Making a company letterhead is a template design process that is quite similar to making a logo, except you’ll most likely create it using texts and word processors like Microsoft Word.
Letterhead designs serve to make your business appear more formal and professional to the public. Simultaneously, it enables you to uniquely present yourself within just a couple clicks. For this reason, letterhead designs are considered to be an important part of a brand’s visual identity.
By learning how to create a great letterhead yourself, you’ll save a ton of money and time that would otherwise go to a graphic designer to do the same. Luckily, In this article, we’ll be covering all the things you need to know about creating a company letterhead. This way, you’ll be able to kickstart your very own letterhead design project.
1) Pick a size and shape
Most letterheads use the landscape orientation, meaning a rectangle that goes across the top and bottom of the document. When selecting the size of your letterhead, you should make sure that it matches the size of the document format you most commonly use, such as A3, A4 etc.
Remember that a letterhead is like a picture frame – it’s supposed to emphasize the picture, not distract from it. Hence, you should try to keep it as simple as you can. It is recommended that the letterhead size and shape you create won’t compete with the content or draw attention to itself.
Also keep in mind that you won’t only be limited to simple rectangular shapes for your letterhead design. You are pretty much free to choose whichever shape you think works best. So, if you’d like to go with unconventional shapes, such as a curvy shape for example, go for it!
2) Pick the right tool
You don’t necessarily have to use Photoshop to create a letterhead. Some tools are better at making a logo while others are better for designing templates. Once you’ve tried out a couple, you will eventually find your own favorites.
InDesign works but so does an online design tool such as Canva. Just be aware not to fork out on cash if you’re just starting out and are not so familiar with the programs. Play around with the options for a little bit. You’d be surprised as to how great some other programs work for letterhead designs.
The main problem with all these specialized tools is that they often have proprietary file formats that might not work in other design or text programs you’re using. Even worse, you might end up having to redo all your work because of the finicky new versions of the program. Therefore, the best tip would be to pick one program that you like and try to work on all your designs on it.
There are plenty of tricks that come into play further down the line when designing a letterhead, one of which being the bleed requirement (in the case that you’re making commercial prints). To find out more about this aspect, you may contact any print agency and ask them for tips on the specific requirements for it.
3) Select a font
Choosing the right font for your template means going with whatever font you’ve chosen for your entire business. At this point, you’ll be putting your branding efforts to the test, hence it is vital that all of your brand’s design elements remain consistent and cohesive. By doing this, you’ll be able to present a strong and meaningful visual identity to your consumers.
The font that you end up picking needs to be readable and easy on the eyes, and there are two types of fonts that are great for this: serif and sans serif. You’ve probably seen many of theme being used for various types of copy texts, and that’s because they’re the most readable fonts.
Serif letters include a small line of embellishment that isn’t present on sans serif letters. While serif fonts are designed for low resolution screens and are meant for readability, sans serif fonts are more stylistic.
Some serif fonts include:
Some popular sans serif fonts include:
- Lucida sans
Apart from selecting the font type, you might also want to consider tinkering with different text sizes, bolding, or underlining words or phrases in your letterhead for greater emphasis.
For example, if you prefer customers to contact you via email rather than your phone number, you could potentially increase the font size of the email address. Similarly, if customers often call your company to ask for a specific piece of information, such as your fax number, you might as well include it in the letterhead and underline it too.
At the end of the day, whichever choice you end up making for your letterhead design, remember that all choices matter. As your letterhead will impact how potential customers view your company, be sure to make wise selections even with all the minor details.
4) Choose a theme
Choosing a theme is all about making a great first impression. If you could pick one word to define your company, what would it be? After you’ve brainstormed and found the perfect adjective, make a letterhead design that clearly communicates it.
The color, font, style, and overall design of your letterhead should be able to reveal your brand’s story, an explanation that makes sense if someone were to wonder what exactly your business stands for. Your vision, goals, and values should be represented by your letterhead. If you’re in need of help, feel free to consult someone and ask for input. Sometimes, these people can even bring up a valuable point that you hadn’t noticed or thought of.
Most professional text processors will have stock letterhead templates or a library of them available online. Browse for a bit before settling on a choice and don’t just buy the first one you find. If not, you can even consider creating your own template. Although it may take a bit more time and effort, it could be very well worth it since you’ll be able to personalize every element.
5) Personalize with images
A good letterhead conveys all the necessary information about your business. It is also simple, striking, and memorable. Therefore, to achieve the best letterhead design, you should use images that are easy to recognize, easy to print and perhaps even easy to draw by hand.
Try going with stylized images that represent the main message you want to communicate through your letterhead. If you don’t have experience in graphic design, try getting someone who does to do it for you as you will need a professional’s help with this.
However, if you decide to do it yourself, the key to this would be an iterative design – start from an idea and keep perfecting it until you reach a form that works.
Good images are ones that are recognizable at a glance, meaning that they have some sort of memorable details. While you do want it to be attention-grabbing, remember not to make your letterhead too distracting. Otherwise, the recipient of your document might not even end up reading its content!
6) Adding a Picture to the Letterhead Header
If you want to add a picture to the letterhead, this too can easily be done. Simply click the header part of your template and choose “Insert image”. For example, you might have already created the specific design on another program and now just want to insert the picture into your text document template.
However, be sure to pay attention to text wrapping, size, and orientation of your image. You might have to adjust margins as well. To do that, set all margins to 0 and slowly increase them until you’ve ended up with something that works for you. Again, this is an iterative design process.
Remember that people scan documents they get from top to bottom, hence your header should include all the most relevant information. Leave social media links in the footer unless that is something that you want to stress. In that case, you can reverse the order. Either way, do not overload the letterhead with visual information as this could result in a clutter.
How to Make a Letterhead Using Microsoft Word
Depending on which version of Microsoft Word you’re using, this process will differ slightly. However, it essentially involves the same steps. This includes either:
- Creating two symmetrical rectangles on the top and bottom of your document where you’ll be able to insert the graphics you’ve made previously
- Editing the header/footer by drawing shapes and adding images
Note that text processors, such as Microsoft Word, are not the most appropriate software for making graphical designs. Therefore, to create special graphics that you want to use, you should probably use some other dedicated software for graphic design. You can save the file and insert it later into your document template.
If you need a letterhead right this instant, Word will do, as will any other application that can combine text and images. However, anything more nuanced would probably need the addition of a specialized application, and this will be highly advised if you are aiming to create the best letterhead.
1) “Create symmetrical rectangles” method
Start from a new blank Word document. Click “Layout” and then “Size”. Choose the appropriate document size (A3, A4, etc.)
Click “Margins” and go with “Narrow”.
Click “Insert” and select the “Shapes” option. Select a rectangle and draw it at the bottom of your document. Change its color to whatever you fancy. Move it around and resize it until it fits. You can then click the “Edit points” option, which is shaped like a “connect the dots” image. This will let you transform your rectangle into any curvy shape you want.
Once you are happy with the footer, copy and paste it to the header. If you’ve added several shapes or items to the footer, right click the footer and choose “Group” so you can duplicate them all at once by pressing CTRL+ D.
Move the duplicate to the header, click “Rotate” and “Flip Vertical”.
Lastly, click “Insert” and select the “Text Box” option. Type in the information about your company and then choose “No Fill” and “No Outline” to allow the text blend in.
2) “Edit header” method
Start from a new blank Word document.
Click “Insert” and then select “Header”. By doing this, you will be offered several presets but there should be an option at the very bottom titled “Edit Header” to make your own.
You can also double click the very top or bottom of your document beyond the margins where the text belongs in order to activate the header and footer respectively.
The idea is the same as with the first method: create shapes, edit them, add text boxes, or just insert the files of the graphics you’ve already designed and then edit them to fit.
For both methods, save the document as a text file format and give it a memorable name. Whenever you want to send a document with your letterhead, open that file and type in or copy the text as usual. However, when doing this, remember to save it under a different name to avoid confusion.
Making a workable letterhead is very easy and can be done using any text processor in a matter of minutes. However, making a remarkable letterhead is a whole different story. It will take effort, skill, wisdom and specialized tools. Give some thought and time into making a good letterhead and your business will exude confidence, professionalism and expertise, which is always a great first impression to make.
At DesignBro, we have design experts who will be able to help you out with this. At an affordable price, we can provide your business with high-quality letterhead design services. Contact us here to find out how you can get started.
Besides having grown up in the design Industry, Christiaan has advised some of the world’s largest companies on their branding & packaging designs. Has been the resident judge for design awards, and has spoken at numerous global design & marketing events. Christiaan founded the London office of the award-winning Cartils agency, and has founded the DesignBro.com platform.