Company letterhead templates in Word® can save time and money … and build your brand
When we’re building out an integrated brand system that’s fully optimized, we include corporate letterhead templates as well as layouts for business cards and other stationery items. Today most companies can eliminate printed letterhead by using templates, then printing on a color laser printer, or sending documents electronically.
Part of our brand optimization process — brand adoption
Letterhead templates are a valuable tool to help your staff maintain brand consistency and streamline work. But letterhead template how to instructions are tricky. Microsoft doesn’t really offer much help. Following are steps we’ve developed after trial and error.
First, what’s included in the letterhead template?
A company letterhead template is designed to standardize the layout and format of a letter or other document (like a fact sheet). It’s also designed to end logo editing. A user can click File/New in Word and open a new document based on the chosen template.
The company letterhead template will include:
- The logo in place, in color
- Address and other standard information elements in place (like a Board of Directors list or social icons)
- Pre-set margins to keep content and the logo in alignment
- A pre-determined style sheet of font style and size, line-spacing, indents, bullet formats and paragraph spacing for headers, body copy and bullets
- A second sheet that is a different setup than the first sheet of the letterhead, usually with fewer and smaller elements
- A header and footer margin that keep text from overlapping the logo or other pre-set copy elements
That’s a lot of stuff to organize and design! A great company letterhead adds a professional polish to communications and supports the brand standards.
In the old days, we would also select an elegant letterhead paper, possibly die-cut it, and perhaps even choose engraving or thermography to add a nice feel to the sheet.
But these days, most people just want to print their letterhead and letter in one pass, from their color printer. Faster and simpler. No more inventory of pre-printed letterhead. No more trying to fit a letter on letterhead with trial and error.
When you’re creating letters to Email as attachments or .pdfs use these templates. The whole document is created electronically and saved electronically.
Just remember, if you’re using the licensed brand fonts in your document and you send it to someone who doesn’t have those fonts, it will default. You can avoid this (and any edits) by saving your document as a .pdf before sending it.
Letterhead templates how to … Step 1
These instructions are for Microsoft Word 2010, and can be adapted to other versions.
1. BACKGROUND: First, of course, is the design. Where will various elements be placed, what size is the logo? What other design elements on the company letterhead will be included? Once the design (which should be shown with a sample letter on it, not as a plain 8.5 x 11 framed by the logo and address elements) is approved, it’s time to prep the artwork for the background.
- The designer must create one 8.5 x 11 .jpg of all the standard elements that would normally be on a pre-printed letterhead … logo, board of directors, address elements, social icons, etc. to the size and relationship those elements are in the approved design.
- Colors should be built with their CMYK (four-color process, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) build. However, some color laser printers actually seem to work better with the RGB builds. Worth a test.
- Open a blank Word document. Under the “Page Layout” tab, set the page layout/margins to fit the designed layout. Set the header (not the margin) deep enough to accommodate the depth of the signature at the top, so the text will start below the design.
- If you have a different design for the second sheet, insert a sheet in your document and start on the second sheet, while specifying in Page Setup/Layout “different first page.”
- Double click on the header section of the page to open the header menu. Insert/place your .jpg of the background in step 1.
- While the .jpg shows its four corners (it’s selected), right-click to bring up the picture menu. Choose “Size and Position” and scale your art to 98%, so there’s no chance of the .jpg pushing outside of the page, which causes all kinds of issues.
- Then choose “Position” and choose (horizontal) Alignment / Left / relative to / Page. And (vertical) Alignment / Top / relative to / Page.
- At the bottom of the same menu, under options, click “Lock Anchor” and unclick “Move Object with Text.”
- In the tab “Wrap Text” click “Behind Text”
- This should align your art to the upper left corner of the page and drop it behind the text in the body of the letter for the background of the company letterhead template.
Step 2 … Define your font system
2. STYLE RIBBON: Define the fonts and styles to pre-configure in the company letterhead template.
Your designer should have chosen two sets of fonts: branded fonts (for those who have the license to install specific fonts on their system); and default fonts, to use fonts that are on everyone’s computer.
Using the chosen fonts and your brand’s color palette, you can set up a “theme” to support branded templates for your staff throughout all Microsoft Office menus.
- On the “Home” tab/menu, you’ll see a section called “Styles” with a few named fonts showing different sizes and weights. This is the “Quick Style Gallery.” When you click on the sidebar, you’ll see a lot of style options already configured. We’re going to change that.
- For a letter, we prefer fewer options in styles. It’s often easier to customize the ones already in the Gallery and remove the ones you don’t need.
- We recommend: Normal for standard body text; Bullet 1 for the first level bullet; Bullet 2 for a bullet that indents beneath Bullet 1; Title; Heading 1; Heading 2 and No Spacing (single space). This gives you a good hierarchy when you need it.
- First, go through the existing Gallery and highlight, then right-click on extraneous styles to “Remove from Quick Style Gallery.”
- “Normal” becomes the foundation for many of the other fonts, so start there. This is your basic font for body text. Although small type can be very attractive, consider your audience. We suggest no smaller than 11 pt. for body text, but more open line spacing or leading to make it easier to read. For most fonts 11/14 is comfortable.
- Right click on “Normal” and choose “Modify.” Your menu will open. Select your font and size. At the bottom click “Add to Quick Style list” and “New documents based on this template.”
- Then click on the “Format” tab at the bottom, then “Paragraph.” This is where you set the line spacing and the spacing between paragraphs. Then when you click “Enter” (a hard return) at the end of a line, a new paragraph is started.
- Leave everything aligned on the left. Under “Spacing” leave “space before” as 0. For space after, we suggest 10 pt. for an 11/14 font system. But you can test how much space you want between paragraphs.
- Under line spacing click Exactly 14 pt. when you’re using an 11/14 setup. Click okay at the bottom, and okay again at the next menu.
- You’ve defined Normal. Now you can set up the other fonts. Adjust with bold or italic or different fonts as the design system shows. Choose colors from the brand’s color palette. (See our summary of how to set up the color theme throughout Office.)
- To define bullets and their indents, use “Paragraph” for indents, and click “Numbering” to find the bullet style options.
- You can also go deeper into your font options, weights and colors for each style by selecting “Fonts” in the “Format” menu.
Sometimes it’s easier to type in dummy text and test out your styles, or to show users what style options are available by typing in “This is normal text at (your font) in 11 point with a 14 point leading.” And “This is Heading 1.” Then, of course, choose the appropriate style for each. You can leave this info in your template to quickly show a user what’s available. They can edit it out in their document.
Now you have your styles defined and the background set up. It’s time to save this as a company letterhead template. Name it so you can find it easily and choose “Word template” in the “Save as” menu. Your document will have the extension .dotx rather than .docx.
Note … setting up a separate format/design for a second page can be tricky. We’ll address that later.
To put this template into your template folder
Save As, then in the top left of your menus you’ll see Microsoft Word. If the template folder doesn’t show under it, click to find the folder.
Save your .dotx named template into the Templates folder. Then close it. Now, to open a new document based on the template, just click File/New in Word. Choose “My Templates” and your template will be there. Click on it, rename it from “document 1” and save it where you want. Then edit and create your document. Any edits in your document will not affect the original template.
Voila … styles in place, logo and margins aligned, standard information where it should be. A company letterhead template that streamlines work. Letterhead templates how to. As needed, you can now build other versions for fact sheets, case studies, agendas, etc. following this same process.
Brand adoption … brand optimization
Providing templates and tools so staff can easily maintain brand standards is one goal of brand adoption, the final piece of brand optimization. Download our overview sheet, or visit our website to learn more about our brand optimization process.
Here are a few examples of a brand refresh, brand guidelines and templates.
- Read about NYSAC and AOC, two government associations who raised their perceived value by refreshing their brand and establishing standards.
- Review our award winning work for Salem Health, including brand training for staff.
- Learn more about internal brand adoption on our website.
- Read Proclamation #8 in our Brand Responsibly Manifesto.
- Learn how to define a brand “Theme” in Microsoft Office and all applications.