Do you send out client communications, as either email attachments or printed documents that you generate from your own computer? If you do already or if you want to begin doing so, it would be good for you to have a digital letterhead so that these communications can have your logo and brand designs on them and match your other marketing materials.

For a small business, a digital letterhead can be a powerful branding tool. Having one at the ready can make creating branded letters, speaking engagement handouts, invoices, contracts and all other paperwork very easy. And if you use your brand on all of the communications that you send out, it’s more likely that your customers will see your business as established and credible.

To gain these advantages, you need to know how to make a letterhead that will work for your business. Here are the steps I take when creating a digital letterhead for a client, along with some simple instructions on how you can design your own digital letterhead using Microsoft Word.

1. Gather the elements you’ll need. You’ll need to design your digital letterhead using your company’s logo and the Visual Vocabulary elements that are used on your other marketing materials, like your color palette, secondary shapes, and tagline text treatment. I recommend inserting the logo in 300 DPI, TIF format in RGB color mode.

2. Gather your other marketing materials for use as reference material. You’ll want your digital letterhead to match your other marketing pieces, such as your business card, website design, and any other marketing materials you use. Having all of these materials share a consistent design theme will make your company look more professional.

3. Determine what contact information you’d like to include. For a letterhead, you’ll typically include your mailing address, phone and fax number, general company email address (like info@yourcompany.com), and website address. If you’re a consultant or a solo business owner and you plan to stay that way, you may also choose to include your name on the letterhead. If you’re a larger company, then you’ll probably want to leave any individual names off to make the letterhead work for correspondence from everyone in the company.

4. Use these 3 elements (your logo, your other materials, and your contact information) to create your design. You can have a professional designer create a masthead and footer graphic to insert into Word if you’d like a complex, eye-catching design. Or you can design a simple letterhead yourself in Word with the following steps:

a.

Make a new Word document to act as your letterhead template.

b.

Insert a header and footer into a your document using the “View > Header and Footer” command.

c.

Take a digital copy of your logo and embed it into the header of the file by using the “Insert > Picture > From File” command. You’ll want to insert a high-resolution file (300 DPI) and to use an EPS, TIFF, JPEG or some other file format that Word accepts.

d.

Use Word’s Drawing toolbar to add in shapes, color bars, or other visual elements to match your other materials. You can access the Drawing menu through Tools > Customize Toolbars/Menus and then selecting the Drawing menu. It has a variety of tools for creating shapes and coloring them in.

e.

Create a text box (also available in the Drawing menu), and insert your contact information there. You’ll probably want to deactivate the linking capability on your email and website addresses, or at least change the color on the link so it isn’t a bright, festive blue. Unless that bright blue goes with your color palette!

f.

You can put a stripe, your tagline, or some other design element on the bottom of the page if you’d like to balance out the design.

g.

Adjust all of your alignment and spacing so that the design looks cohesive. Save this new document to use as a template and you’re ready!

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>5. Regardless of whether you design your template or if you have a designer create it, do keep these two technical items about Word in mind. First, you’ll need to create your design with a significant page margin. I usually recommend about .75—1″ all around your artwork. This is so that the artwork will work with Word’s page margins. This will also ensure that when you, or a client you email, tries to print the document you’re creating, your printer’s margin allowance won’t trim off the edges of the design.

Second, think about how you want to deliver the final document if you’re planning to send a file. If you email a Word document to a client, they might wind up not having Word—or having a different version than the one that you used to create your document. And, if you send your document as a Word file, then your recipient could easily edit the content—which may not be the result you’re after if you’re sending a proposal or contract. It will probably be safer—and easier—to convert your Word document into a PDF file before you send it along.

If you follow these steps, you’ll be able to create a digital letterhead in Word that will extend your brand onto your email attachments and any documents you may want to create and print from your own printer. This will make all of your digital communications look more professional and appear consistent with your other marketing materials, which will help your marketing efforts to be more well-received by clients and potential clients.