Graphene grown by chemical vapor deposition can be used as the conductive channel in metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistors, metallic electrodes in capacitors, etc. However, substrate-induced corrugations and strain-related wrinkles formed on the graphene layer impoverish the properties of these devices by lowering the conductance and increasing their variability. Using the scanning electron microscopy, Auger electron spectroscopy, scanning tunneling microscopy, and atomic force microscopy, we investigated the morphology of as-grown and transferred graphene sheets on different substrates. We show that while the compressive strain (from the growth process) in the graphene sheet on flat substrates is minimized by generating wrinkles, and on rough substrates, it can be minimized by improving the graphene-substrate adhesion, leading to lower densities of wrinkles. This method paves the way to the design of wrinkle-free graphene based devices. © 2013 American Institute of Physics.