Designing documents for clients to create and send electronically

“Make me a Word template please.”

There’s a bit of a hitch in the designing world when it comes to electronic documents.  That is, what we can design for print, can’t always be transferred to a document the client can use to send electronic correspondence.  A scenario we have run into more than once is that we are asked to create letterhead for a client, and once completed and off to the printer, they request a “template” of that same letterhead.  They want to be able to open this “template” in Microsoft Word, type, format the text, add pictures, save and send attached to an email… all with the design we created in the background.

This should be simple, but in many cases the design of the letterhead does not fall within the parameters Microsoft Word has set for how letterhead should look.   Here is an example of how Word sets up the documents:


word document layout


This setup works fine for placing a logo and some informational text in the header and footer areas.  The size of the logo and information within the header determines the place at which the text area begins- there is no running over of the header/footer into the text area or vice versa.  Not a problem unless the design layout calls for a header that utilizes the space along the sides of the main text area  such as with a line or image:

The solution?

Obviously the best answer is to know in advance where the letterhead you are designing is being used and design accordingly.

However, if you need to work with a document that was not designed with Word’s basic template in mind, you have two options:

1- Re-design the document to fit within Word’s parameters (see example below)

2-Place an image of the files in the Word document, use advanced image settings to allow text over the image and to lock the image (although this still allows it to be moved), and teach the client how to use the text box tool to draw a text box over the image.

Neither is ideal, but until Microsoft Word comes up with a way to work with more than a basic design, it’s what we’ve got.

Letterhead designed for use as a Word Template


Have you found a way to work around this we haven’t noted here?  Please let us know with a comment!

Thanks!  Lorelyn