Optimize My Brand

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Letterhead templates how to: in Word

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.

letterhead templates how and NYSAC style guide for colors

Part of the style guide provided for the New York State Association of Counties

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
letterhead templates how for AOC

A letterhead template styled and standardized for Association of Oregon Counties (AOC)

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.
Letterhead templates how to instructions for users

This is the user guide created for the award-winning Salem Health brand adoption program, with instructions for accessing and using Word and PowerPoint templates.

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.

Download the e-book - 10 Steps to Optimize Your Brand

About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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  1. dear Jennifer, can you tell me how to get the address in a letterhead page at the very bottom of a page in word 2013. There is 2 inches left under the address and I need that extra space for the body of a letter. i would be most grateful for your advice.


    • Hi Anne, have you clicked on header/footer? By adjusting the margins for header/footer, then clicking into that space (outside of the body of the letter) you should be able to insert the address there. That will put it on every page. If you just want it on one page, adjust your margins.
      Hope that helps!


  2. Hi Jennifer, this article is so helpful! Do you have any advice for those of us creating letters that will be printed on top of a pre-printed letterhead? How can the logo image stay on the page but not print? Any help is appreciated.

    • Hi … I would recommend creating two templates. This is what we have done. So one template uses all the styling and formatting but not the logo art or signature that’s on the pre-printed letterhead. Just name it something like “on letterhead” … then the second template includes all of the logo art to print and name it something different, like “electronic letterhead” … When you open your document, just choose the template you need for how the letter is going to be printed. It’s pretty easy. Good luck!

  3. Hi – found this very helpful. However, I need to lock the template so staff do not change margins, etc. Is there a way to do this without using Macros? If not, any easy way to set this up? Thanks.

    • Hi … thanks for your question! And I’m glad you found our post helpful. We have not run into the locking issue … but if you check Help, there is some information about properties and controls. Good luck!


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