Convert Custom Letterhead to Microsoft Word Templates


In these modern times of environmental responsibility, plenty of companies are choosing to ‘go green.’ And while we all have different opinions on the best way to reduce, reuse, recycle – printing is one of those areas where businesses often choose to save costs and reduce their environmental footprint.

While there’s nothing I like more than a beautiful coated PANTONE ink on some quality textured heavy stock, I can totally understand businesses that want to send letters, invoices, and quotes via email, rather than expending energy and cash on paper, printing and postage.

Good luck to them, I say, until they ask me to convert the amazing letterhead I’ve just designed for them in InDesign into a Word template that can be used by their administrative staff and sent via email, rather than snail mail.

Still, I’m sure you want to save our planet as much as I do, so let’s discuss how we can make this happen. And while we’re discussing letterheads in this example, the same techniques can be applied for any custom Word template (like envelopes, reports, invoices etc)

Setting Expectations

Of course, your client has been thrilled with the work you’ve done on the original letterhead and you don’t want them to be disappointed with anything that you submit, so it’s important to have an upfront discussion about what you can and can’t control when it comes to converting your artwork into Word. Here are some important topics to cover.


If your client wants a design that goes right to the edge of the paper – no problem! Until they want to print it out. Make sure they understand that anything that’s viewed onscreen in Word’s Page Layout View (or in Acrobat if the Word doc gets exported to PDF) will have artwork that goes to the very edge of the page. However, if they want to print it out (or have their customers print out the email copy they receive) there will always be a white non-printable area around all four sides of the document. This area is where the standard office printer grips onto the paper as it’s moving through the printer and therefore the space cannot be printed on. The only option would be to trim it off after printing, and most people aren’t prepared to take on that extra workload.


With all the fabulous fonts now at your disposal, you’ll have chosen something amazing that suits your client’s image perfectly. And they may have even installed that font on their own computers. But their customers most likely will not have it. Any text in your design will be rasterized as part of the process which won’t give results as good as a commercially printed letterhead.

Color Fidelity

There’s no such thing as PANTONE or other spot color inks in Word. Your client will have to be satisfied to use the CMYK equivalent of their logo colors. And how close the output is to their intended color depends on a range of factors, including the thickness of the paper, the quality of the printer and whether it’s running out of ink.

So, if your client is still keen to proceed after understanding the limitations of bleed, font and color, let’s make it happen!

Recreating the Letterhead Template in Word

For this example, I’m using Creative Cloud 2019 (14.0.1) and Word 2016 for Windows (18.11) so my screenshots might look a little different to yours, but the concepts remain the same. I’ve created a letterhead in InDesign which has a different first page to the consecutive pages. Measurements are included in my images below.

Export Artwork

Unless it’s an incredibly simple design, don’t even think about re-creating it in Word. It’s much simpler to export elements of your design from InDesign into PNG (Portable Network Graphics) files which can be imported into Word in the appropriate positions.

If your design has elements on more than one side, (art across the top and down the left, as in my sample letterhead above), you’ll need to export each side separately.

For each side that you’ll be exporting:

  1. Select all the objects that make up that side
  2. Choose File > Export, give your file a name and from the Save As Type dropdown, select the PNG format.
  3. Click Save
  4. Use the PNG Options dialog box to specify that you want to export the selection and choose the resolution and other settings (see my recommendations below).

Because of the way I’ve created my letterhead, I’ve ended up with three files – one for the first page header, one for the header on consecutive pages and one for the stripes that go down the left side on all pages. (TopFirst.png, TopAll.png, Side.png). I don’t export the page number text (which appears at the bottom-right of the second and subsequent pages) because I want to build that in Word so page numbers can be calculated automatically in there for documents as they’re created.

Setup the Template in Microsoft Word

Now that you have the various elements exported, we can build the template within Microsoft Word by setting up our layouts and placing our elements into the header and/or footer areas. These areas are similar to Master Pages in InDesign in that elements in these areas will repeat on all pages, sitting on a layer underneath the copy text on each page.

Start a new letter-sized document by clicking File > New > Blank document. If you want to see the page as a whole, the zoom control is at the bottom right.

Click the Layout tab to display the Layout ribbon. While there are separate buttons for each function, the quickest way to make changes to Margins, Orientation and to let Word know if you want to use a different header on the first page is to click the little doodad at the bottom right of the Page Setup section on this Layout ribbon. Its official name is the ‘Dialog Launcher’ but I think it’s much easier to call it a doodad.
Quick tip: you can also double-click the grey area at the beginning of the horizontal ruler to access the layout options. If you’re rulers aren’t showing, click the View tab to display the View ribbon and check Ruler.

On the Layout tab, check Different odd and even if you want facing pages and/or Different first page if your first page design is different to consecutive pages (like mine). On the Margins tab, enter your margin settings and change your orientation if required. Note: despite checking Different first page on the Layout tab, the margin settings displayed on the Margins tab are for the Whole Document. If you’re looking to set a larger top margin on the first page (like I am), enter the smaller settings here (ie the settings you want for all consecutive pages) and we’ll need to adjust the first page later. Click OK when you’re done.

When you’re happy with your initial setup, save the file as a Word Template (.dotx extension). When saving as a template, Word will recommend you store the file in the default Template location – this is up to you, but if you store it here, you can test it regularly because it will appear as an option when you select File>New>Personal. I recommend saving regularly as you’re working (way more than you think is necessary) because things can get a little fiddly and you don’t want to lose anything after you’ve tweaked it into perfection.

Import Artwork into the Header

To access the header area in Word, click the Insert tab to display the Insert ribbon and then click Header > Edit Header (or Footer > Edit Footer).
Quick tip: you can also just double-click in the blank area at the top or bottom of the document to display the header or footer panes. Double-click outside the header area to return to the page working area.

Now we’re in the Header pane, a few things will look different …

  • A dashed line will appear with a tag that says Header to indicate you are now in the header area. (If you’ve selected a different first page header, this pane will be labelled First Page Header)
  • Your cursor will be positioned inside the header pane
  • The Header & Footer Tools Design ribbon will be made available
  • The vertical ruler changes to indicate you’re in the header pane (if you’ve got rulers displayed)
  • If you’ve already got some text on the page, it will appear ghosted

… and we’re ready to import the PNG file that we want to appear at the top of our first page.

On the Insert ribbon, click Pictures and navigate to the image you need (TopFirst.png for me). Select it and click Insert. This will embed the art into the Word file like an inline object without creating a link back to the original in the way that File > Place does.

It’s likely the image needs to be scaled and repositioned. While it’s still selected, the Picture Tools Format ribbon will be available. This ribbon is where Word puts all the good stuff like cropping, adding borders and effects but since you worked all that out before exporting, you shouldn’t need to do any of that here. What you will need to do is click the Dialog Launcher doodad next to Size to edit the scaling and position of your placed picture.

In this dialog, use the Size tab to return the Scale setting to 100%, click the Text Wrapping tab and choose Behind Text which will sit the image behind the text, allowing you to add any extra text (like a page number or file name) in front of the image and will also allow you to specify an XY position from the Position tab. Most likely, you’ll set your Horizontal alignment to Left, relative to the page and Vertical alignment at an Absolute setting to match the distance your design sits below the top of the page. Unfortunately, there’s no preview checkbox so you’ll need to click OK to see your changes take effect. You can revisit this dialog a number of times to tweak the position measurements but if you’ve taken down the measurements from your InDesign layout, this process should be reasonably simple.

Import Artwork into the Footer

If there’s a footer image you want to include, you’ll need to activate the footer pane. If your header is still open, the Header & Footer Tools ribbon will include a Go to Footer button or you can just scroll down to the bottom of the page and click inside the footer pane. Once again, if you’ve selected Different first page, this footer pane will be labelled First Page Footer. However you get to the footer pane, once you’re there, repeat the whole process above of inserting, repositioning and resizing your image until you’re happy with the result.

If you’ve got elements that are meant to appear on the sides of your document, they can be included here in the footer pane. There’s no problem including a couple of elements in this pane (for left and right), just insert one element and then insert another and lay them out to match your original design as best as you can.

In my example, I’ve put the header items in the First Page Header pane and the left side stripes in the First Page Footer pane. The Horizontal position of my stripes element is set to 6mm to the right of Page and Vertical alignment is set to Top relative to Page to match my original layout.

Checking your document

Close the header and footer panes and take a look at your document so far. There’s a Close Header and Footer button on the ribbon but you can just double-click on the page outside the header or footer pane to return to the main body of the document. The elements that you’ve just added will ghost out to indicate that those panes are no longer active and therefore can’t be easily selected and moved. Don’t worry, they’ll print out at 100%, they’re only ghosted on screen. To see pages 2, 3 and later, you can add a bunch of carriage returns to create a second and third page or just hit Ctrl+Enter a couple of times to force some page breaks. Use the zoom control at the bottom right of your screen to view the document as a whole. You’ll find it easiest from now on if you keep your document zoomed out to about 50% to allow yourself to see pages 1, 2 and 3 the whole time. I also recommend you show your hidden characters at this point to make sense of what you’re seeing. Do this by clicking the Show/Hide button on the Home Ribbon.

You might be surprised to find that the headers and footers you’ve set up aren’t appearing on all pages you’re displaying. Where they are displayed will depend on whether you’ve checked Different First Page or Different Odd & Even pages. I selected Different First Page, so the header and footer I setup was only for the first page. That means my second and third pages still appear blank.

If this is also how your document is looking, you’ll now need to repeat the whole insert/reposition/resize process repeatedly to add the visual elements into the other header and footer panes that you’ve created.

If you’ve selected Different First Page, you’ll just need to put something in the panes labelled ‘Header’ and ‘Footer’ on the second page. But if you’ve selected Different Odd and Even pages, the empty panes on Page 2 will be labelled Even Header and Even Footer, and on Page 3 will be labelled Odd Header and Odd Footer (and they’ll all be available for you to add graphic elements into if you wish).

If your header and footer panes haven’t worked out the way you wanted, you can use the Header & Footer Tools ribbon to access the Different First Page and Different Odd and Even checkboxes to clarify the settings you want.

Don’t forget, you should be saving regularly so as not to lose any tricky tweaks you’ve made along the way.

Final Tweaks

After you’ve completed all header and footer panes on pages 1, 2 and 3 as required, you’ll need to consider if you want to change the margin settings. We setup the margins for the whole document during the initial document setup in Word, but I want my first page to have a larger margin area at the top – I want to set mine to 40mm for the first page only.

Unfortunately, there’s no setting in Word that makes this possible. All you can do is add some whitespace into your first header to create some ‘breathing space’ between your artwork and the body text. Here’s a little tricky way I developed to make this happen easily and all it requires is a teensy bit of math.

Make sure you’re in the First Page header pane and take a look on the Page Setup dialog on the Layout tab to locate how far the header is set to start from the edge of the paper (remember, you can access this dialog quickly by double-clicking the grey part at the beginning of the horizontal ruler).

The default here is 1.25cm but you can change the header setting here a little bit without having too much impact if it makes the following math easier for you. I’ll leave mine set to 1.25mm. Remember from my initial InDesign image that I want my top margin to be set to 40mm. All I need to do here is subtract the difference between these two to work out how much extra whitespace I need to add in (40cm-1.25cm=2.75cm). So, I need to get 2.75cm of extra white space inside the First Page Header pane. And the easiest way to do that is by inserting that much space before the empty paragraph that’s sitting inside the First Page Header pane.

Now that we’ve worked this out, cancel out of the Page Setup dialog and click the Home tab and then click the Dialog Launcher doodad for the Paragraph section. Change the setting of your Spacing Before to match the amount of white space that you want to add. For me that’s 2.75cm. (Just like in InDesign, you can type the measurement plus the unit of measurement you’re using and Word will convert to the default unit of measurement, so I’ll type 2.75cm and it will convert to points). Click OK and your paragraph mark (only visible if you’ve got your hidden characters showing) will have moved down to allow this space and the First Page Header pane will have grown accordingly to allow the white space to fit.

Now, if you want page numbers added for page 2 onwards, we’ve still got some work to do. Make sure you are in the Footer Pane on page 2. Press Ctrl/Cmd+R if you want your page number right-aligned. Type any text required like “Page ” and then, from the Header & Footer Tools Ribbon, click Page Number > Current Position > Plain Number. This should insert a 2 since you are currently on page two. You can format this text to the font and/or size you like using the controls on the Home ribbon.

Testing it

When everything’s looking good on screen, it’s time to test it out. If you’ve saved the file in your default templates folder, you can select File > New > Personal and select the template from there. Create a new document based on your template and add some placeholder text (this isn’t possible automatically in Word, just type “The quick brown fox ..” or something similar and copy/paste repeatedly until you’ve got a couple of full pages). Your printout will show if the elements are placed correctly on the printed page, and if the quality is up to scratch. On mine, I discovered that the email address on the first page had been cut short by that non-printing white area around the page edge, so I had to move it back to the left a little.

If you find that Word takes too long to print, don’t be afraid to edit your original elements or change the resolution of your PNG files to improve the final output. Consider sending a copy to your client so they can print it out and check it as well. It’s best to spend the time to get this stuff right.

Finishing Up

You might want to edit the built-in paragraph styles for date, salutation, body text and signature to save your users time when they’re using your template. Make sure you select a font that you know your clients have!

When you’re done, remove any page breaks so that the document is only one page long. (The settings for page 2 and beyond will be saved in the template file even though you can’t see them. When the template is being used, it will start as a single page and when a second page is required, the header/footer and margins will automatically be applied.)

Save the file one final time as a Word template (.dotx). Take a look at the file size and ensure that it’s not too mammoth. If this file’s going to get rejected by the recipients’ mail servers your client’s not going to be too happy. Once you’ve completed the entire process, send the file to the client and have them copy it into the default templates folder for each user. To access it, they choose File>New>Personal and it will appear as a custom template.

Phew! Well I warned you that it was quite a process but you’ve done your part towards saving the planet and can give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.

The original version of this article was written by Anne-Marie Concepción and published on Apr 2, 2008 

  • Terry Veiga says:

    About every two years, I get a Word or PowerPoint layout request that keeps me chasing my tail for a couple of days. I always have to perform a cryptic mix of Export/Insert of various graphic formats then test on a PC to see how much I screwed it up. Of course, the hardest part is telling the client that “yes, it does looks crappy on screen now, but wait until you see how good it looks when you print it. Er, you do have a postscript printer, don’t you?”

    Now I’ll just refer to your great article. Thank you!

  • Smavitz says:

    Thank you for this REAL WORLD article! I’m an in-house designer and embrace my Microsoft side daily. I loved the article and just when I thought I knew what I was doing – you helped immensely! (Especially appreciated the “Zaph Chancery” reference!) Keep these kinds of articles coming!

    Love your podcasts too! I listen while I’m working and so far you’ve trimmed many, many minutes of bad habits out of my everyday tasks.

  • saper paper says:

    Working alone is never easy, but having Creative Pro send me valuable tips every week really makes my life much easier!

  • LauraMFoley says:

    I often create Word letterhead templates, but up until now I’ve been placing high-resolution JPGs. It will be interesting to see how well the colors in PNG and EMF files match those of InDesign printouts. It’s been a real problem for me, but somehow the end user doesn’t seem to mind or even notice the discrepancies. Stoopid end users! Oh, did I type that or think it?


    Laura Foley

  • amarie0 says:

    thanks everyone. I’m interested in hearing how the technique I outlined works out for you (e.g., were the colors better than jpegs?). I know it works for my clients, but I’m just one lone designer.

    Also, if anyone knows any secret setting to get art in the header/footer to show up at 100% in Page Layout/Preview mode, I’d love to hear it. I mean it’s nice that it *prints* at 100%, but it would be nicer if the artwork previewed at 100% while people were actually opening and reading the Word docs on their computers. I scoured the Internet and Word .mvp sites for hours looking for a solution but couldn’t find one.


  • jeremydanny says:

    I work in a corporate communications office and quite often I have to create MS templates for use by our various facilities. For example, last week I created posters in Word with a textbox so they could put in the specific details for their location (time and place of a meeting). I created the poster in InDesign (photo and text), exported to pdf (high quality print), opened the pdf in Photoshop (150 pixels/inch) and then saved as a png. Then I set the Word margins to 0, inserted the picture, and inserted a text box on top of it.

    Another method would be Format > Background > Fill Effects > Picture, but you’d have to experiment to get it sized correctly before you insert it (no way to resize it in Word).

    Anyway, great article, I enjoyed it. I’d also be interested in an article that explains what Microsoft office actually does to an image that’s inserted. How does Insert Image compare to copy and paste? When you resize an image in Word, is it changing the resolution? etc. Same with powerpoint?


  • Windward-DG says:

    Can someone please help me? Great article on converting custom letterhead to Microsoft Word templates. I have repeated Hergeekness’s steps in new Word files umpteen times and cannot remove the second page without losing the first page logo header and footer.

    The file I have created has a logo header and graphic footer. The second page has a blank header (no logo) and a modified version of the original graphic footer. The file looks great and functions as a two pager. However, I do not want page two to be present until needed for a longer letter. When I try to delete this page, the first page header and footer delete, too.

    What am I doing wrong?

  • Windward-DG says:

    I forgot to add that I am working in Word 2007. The margins on page one are 2.2″ at the top of page 1 and need to be 1″ on continuation pages.

    The file works great so long as I keep the same margins on both pages. The trouble equation starts when I change the top margin on page 2. Is it that I can’t have a Word letterhead with different margins? The graphics work great until then.

  • jeremydanny says:

    not sure about 2007, but in Word 2003 you can insert a section break (Insert > Break > Next page) and then in Page Setup you can change the margins for each section (make sure This section is your choice under Apply to:).

    As far as I know, there’s no way to create the second page with different header/footer from a one page document. You’ll need to create a one page version and a two page version.

    hope this helps…

  • amarie0 says:

    Jeremy, you can embed a different first page header in a one-page document. But as explained in the article, you have to add a 2nd page temporarily in order to *see* the 2nd page header, so you can add the artwork there. Then you can delete the text or run of carriage returns you entered to force the 2nd page. You’re left with a 1-page document. You can close it, email it, turn it into a template, whatever. As soon as you open it again and add enough text to force a second page, the 2nd page header reappears.

    At least, that’s how it works with Word 2004 on the Mac, the version I used for the article.

    I *think* we’re confusing margins/sections with headers here (speaking to Jeremy here, too). And there is some overlap between the two, so it’s common to get discombobulated trying to figure it out.

    Side Margins: The only way to set different side margins on a per-page (or even per-paragraph) basis is to use Section breaks. When you choose Insert > Break > Section Break (any of them, including Continuous); and you click your cursor below the break, you can go to Format > Document and change the margins (top/bottom and left/right). Note that by default the “Apply to:” dropdown menu is set to “This Section.”

    Top/Bottom Margins: There are 2 ways to get different top/bottom margins on different pages. Method #1 is to use Section Breaks as above. Method #2 is to insert live text (even empty placeholder carriage returns) into the header or footer to increase their depth. If you insert 20 lines of text in a header, it grows dynamically to fit. When you get out of Header/Footer mode, you’ll see the top margin of the live page area is directly below the header, wherever it ends.

    Since you can’t have a different header/footer every page (unless you use Section breaks — each section can have its own header/footer, a topic for another article!), you can only use Method #2 if you just want page 1’s top/bottom margin to be different from any additional pages in the document. Of course you needed to turn on “Different First Page” in the Header area of Format > Document.

    Now … in my article, I recommended people place artwork into the header and then via Format > Picture, set its X/Y position to an Absolute value. When you do that, it’s like adding a layer (background or foreground) to the page, and it pays no attention at all to the live area in the header. In other words it won’t force the header area down, so it doesn’t affect the top margin.

    The moral of the story: If you use my method to add header art, AND you have a different first header, AND you need the top margin of page 1 to be different than the top margin of additional pages, I recommend you cheat with placeholder carriage returns in the headers. Add as many as necessary to force live text down to where it should start on the page.


  • amarie0 says:

    Man I wish we could edit these comments …

    In my long comment below, in the 3rd paragraph, I meant to say “(speaking to Windward here, too)” … the commenter who can’t get my instructions to work.

    Also, Windward, don’t take my comments to mean that I don’t believe you … ;-) I do, I do. I just can’t replicate them over here. No matter what I try, what checkboxes are enabled when I place the images (linked/not linked, e.g.), I cannot *shake* the 2nd header art. It’s always there, even after I delete the 2nd page and add it back in again.

    Just to confirm … you’re not using Sections, are you? The method I described has nothing to do with Sections. If a section break is on page 2, and you delete the page, then I’m guessing you might lose any header/footer that belonged to section 2.

    I just used the Different First Header method. It’s important to turn this on BEFORE you add art to the first header, btw. Otherwise, as soon as you turn it on you lose the art in the first header — it empties out, and you have to redo it.


  • Leah Hanlin says:

    The article helped me immensely, too. (twice in the last week since I read the article!) I’ve used it to help our Marketing folks create somewhat “branded” documents. (User/technical manuals.) The info about having 2 different page styles (first page different) was PRICELESS. THANKS!

  • Aaron_is_here says:

    I’ve developed a letterhead for a client and they’ve just reported to me that after editing some text and re-saving, it balloons from <1 mb to 21 mb!
    Anyone else experienced this? They’re using Word 2003, Windows; I’m on Mac Word 2008 and no ballooning on my end.

  • JennieR says:

    Thanks Anne-Marie!!! I get this request a lot. I’ve never been able to make it work very well. Unfortunately I will now be able to satisfy those requests. I really, really hate Word…but not quite as much as I hate Publisher!

  • sherrme says:

    I have also been experiencing this problem. Any solutions yet?

    Thanks for the great article. I always cringe when I have to “design” something in Word.

  • amarie0 says:

    I have not run into this problem… but I’m wondering if Word’s Fast Save could be at fault? With the file sizes that are already big, ask the user to choose Save As and name it the same/save it in the same location as the original, to overwrite it, and see if that’s any smaller.

    And then ask them to go to their Preferences, choose the Save panel, and disable Fast Saves if it’s on, see if that makes any difference.


  • Dozza says:

    I’ve had to do this numerous times for clients and hate having to do it as I hate Word and always have to remember how I did it. I now have a bookmarked reference, so thanks Anne-Marie for this.

    I have to generate stationery exactly like ‘Windward-DG’ , where letterhead and continuation differ in their header graphic AND their top margin depth. From reading the comments and Anne-Maries, it appears that her article does not cater for this scenario. Unfortunately it doesn’t explain how to adjust your doc to allow the second page header AND margin to be different.

    Using sections (Method #1) removes the ‘natural’ way, after enough carriage returns, a different header is added to continuation pages in Anne-Maries article and my clients like this. What I think Anne-Marie needed to clarify for her ‘Method #2’ was the following.

    SOLUTION: If you want different headers on first and continuation AND different Margins on First and continuation, follow the article to a T, then set the whole documents top margin (Format>Document>Margins>Top and Apply to Whole document) to the size of the SMALLER top margin, which is usually the continuation top margin as the first page has address details etc. You then add additional carriage returns to the First page header only, to ‘push’ down the live text area to your desired start point.

    Out of interest, I find the AI export to .EMF is not accurate and does something akin to a ‘roughen’ filter on closer inspection. I tend to export (save for web using max setting for JPG with ICC embedded) the page graphics from PShop at 144ppi, then place in Word and scale to 50% so it is effectively double the screen res, but the correct physical size. This is ample for most clients in-house inkjet/ laser jet printers and generates a filesize that is not prohibitive to it being sent regularly via email

  • amarie0 says:

    Dozza, great info from someone who’s “been there.” Thanks!


  • angdesign says:

    oh so brilliant, thanks i really appreciate your insite it was easy to follow and got me outa some deep doodoo this week,
    ta mucho

  • jmed says:

    Great article. It really helped me out with a past project.

    Now, I would like to create a document for my client that shows them the graphic, but doesn’t print the graphic since we have previously printed letterhead available. Any ideas? I’ve been searching and reading articles, but haven’t found a solution yet.


  • premierpress says:

    My graphic and outlined text look bad (“chunky”, for lack of a better term) when I export them from Illustrator as EMF files. So, I placed the eps file from Illustrator to see, and it worked fine, but I have had eps files display/print incorrectly before – seems to be a bit hit and miss. Is there a setting or preference in Illustrator that may be causing my EMF files to not export correctly? I’m using Word for the Mac 2004 and I tried both CS2 and CS3 Illustrator with the same result. Any suggestions?

  • ibwenb says:

    How do I add a blank second page? Each time I turn on “different first page” it gets rid of what I’ve done and makes the first page blank. I just want any pages after the first to be blank from then on. How do I go about doing that?

    Thanks so much for at least getting me through all this Word nonsense. I was just asking myself, why do people want me to put their nice letterheads into Word b/c I don’t know Word as a designer and Word is stupid. I found your article just in time to help a current client. Look forward to hearing how to add blank 2nd and 3rd pages and so on.

  • Anonymous says:

    Great info. Referencing the below statement, I believe once you free the image from being inline w/ the text, you can position it easily just by dragging it with your mouse. No need to guess the x/y coordinates.

    “Alas, there is no Preview checkbox, so it may take a lot of clicking and tweaking to get the artwork exactly where you want it.”

  • Anonymous says:

    I have all of that sorted but only want one letterhead on the first page…. great.
    but page 2, the content is stuck more than a quarter down the page,
    But for no real reason. (from the point of view of the person recieving the letter.)
    Sorry, I appreciate this article, just been scanning, reading, trying and frustrating for hours over this now.

    I need the header only in the first page, and to not affect the second at all…


  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for your article. I have wrestled a beast of an assignment for hours and hours of the last week. Your article was a helpful reference. Just wanted to note my experience…

    I was having trouble getting graphic exported from AI and inserted in right format, resolution, etc. to ensure nice PDF “print”. Everything I tried gave me a nasty, jaggedy version of my header.

    My header file was 8″ wide, so it needed .25″ margins. I found that when I set the margins to .25″ BEFORE inserting graphic, I got much nicer results. It seems word’s resizing (even though it was resizign from 81% to 100% of original file) was wrecking my resolution somehow.

    I set margins to .25″, inserted 8″ PNG file (300 ppi), changed it to fixed position, then readjusted my margins to 1″ so that the body copy area would have the appropriate margins.

    Another key was to go into Print Properties dialog box and choose Press Quality or other high-resolution output instead of “standard”.

    After dozens and dozens of attempts, the combo of these two tricks made it work for me. Let’s hope that works for client! :)

  • Anonymous says:

    Great article … is there a way to create a second page of the template that contains different margins? I tried this but when the “content” is deleted from the entire document the second page replaces the first page.

  • Anonymous says:


  • sanserofin says:

    Finally! A well written, easy to understand set of instructions on how to create a letterhead template in MS Word! (i hate word, i hate word, i hate word) Way to go Anne-Marie! This Mac user salutes you.

  • Anonymous says:

    I’ve actually had to do this a few times for clients. Some companies don’t even want letterhead stock, they no they will almost never use it now.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks a lot for this well written and very informative tutorial!!

    obs* word is not a program, is a virus.

  • Anonymous says:

    I was wracking my brain and the support sites trying to find a better solution. With CS4, I had to save it as a pdf from illustrator to crop it, and then I opened the pdf file and exported a png.

  • Anonymous says:

    I’ve created a series of Word templates for my office. Everything has been working fine with the exception of one co-worker. When she opens the template, the page is a square (instead of 8.5×11), and part of the background image is cut off! I’m at a complete loss, and it’s just one computer. Does anyone know how to fix this?

  • Anonymous says:

    Enormously helpful Article and comments that take this tutorial to a new level.
    I bow down to her Geekness, I’m not worthy

  • Anonymous says:

    Not long ago, I had to do something just like this (though it was a fax cover page, not their letterhead, thank God) and had NO idea how to force Word to do my bidding. It was a long, incredibly frustrating process. I was recently asked to do another Word template and decided there had to be a better way. There are very few resources out there on how to use this godawful program from a designer’s point of view. Thank you so much for posting this!

  • Anonymous says:

    Great but when i make the emf from ill the emf file has some broken text and icons? not sure why it does this? it seems to happen to smaller text (which has been outlined) and the small icons

  • Anonymous says:

    That was so so very very helpful. Thank you so much for the post!

    xo Graphic designer and loather of Word

  • Anonymous says:

    Is there a way to view the header NOT screened back when you’re working in the body of the document? I need to see the full color of the artwork in my company logo, instead of the faded “header” version…

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you fellow designer.
    “Bleeds are problematic. Though you can bring artwork right up to the page edge in a Word document, and it looks great in Word’s Page Layout view or exported to PDF, few clients (or recipients) will print to an oversize printer and trim it! “
    When I…. Print – Save as PDF. I always get a white border on my pdf. Is that the nature of the beast? Can eliminate the white border when I look at the pdf on screen?

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you. exactly the information that i needed.
    great help for an amateur.

  • Anonymous says:

    This was a great article, I have one problem though, when I made my first header and footer, and then clicked “different first page” it erased what i did on the first page and kept it on the second page. When I wanted the reverse to happen… how do I fix that?

  • Anonymous says:

    Your article was great!
    A couple things, I cannot seem to get my side panel to show up in the print preview. Abd U don’t know how to fix it! And I also will need to insert graphs into this template however I am having trouble with the spacing and them going over the margins. They need to be organised in a certain way and I feel like it won’t conform to the margins.

    I am also having trouble with page numbers, I have put in a symbol behind the page number in the footer on Page 2, which at first repeated on every page, and then suddenly disappeared from the other pages! Things either keep moving or disappear and I can not figure out why to control it.

    Is there any way to lock the template?

    thank you so much!d

  • Anonymous says:

    I just had a request for this and I am glad I read this before I started! Thank you so much.

  • Anonymous says:

    This was so helpful for me. I am a graphic design student doing a letterhead for a client that is paying me. I had no idea how to convert my illustrator design into word. I asked my computer guru boyfriend to help me and it took him forever to try to figure it out. As he was making it very difficult for himself, I googled and found this site. I was finished in no time. He was so upset with me because I was working on this at the same time. Male ego is a mutha. Anyway thanks again. JB

  • Anonymous says:

    To me, ms word has simply been a means by which to get copy from clients. Kudos to Anne-Marie for this easy-to-follow article and your gracious assistance with what was looking to be a pretty head-achy addition to a letterhead package. Thanks you!!!

    Steve Moore

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow … all these kudos are great. Thanks so much! And thanks to Terri for reminding me to check here to see all these!


  • Anonymous says:

    Great breakdown of the process. The gotcha is in getting Word to honor margins less that 1.5 inches when printing. The secret to that is in page setup. No matter what I try, the page attribute reverts back to “page indent” — and it must be US Letter (or whatever your pleasure).

  • Anonymous says:

    this was great. i hate figuring out how to translate between programs. Thank you! one thing- for me when I got to formatting the picture and moving it around – you mention x/y coordinates- I couldn’t actually affect anything in my advanced dialogue box. I had to get out and then manually move it around. ? It works for me, but was the one point I felt like I couldn’t follow you. Thanks for this great, layman term explanation.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for your tips.

    However, I got some difficulties that I would like to share. First, either the EMW/PNG export work – both produced too low resolution a file exported, it’s better to use jpg, and the MS word version I use is 2007 (windows) which has different look and some functions (like Advanced layout) disappeared in this new version…

  • Anonymous says:

    thanks so much for creating this tutorial. I followed it for a “challenging” client and all is good. Yippee! thanks again…

  • Anonymous says:

    This is exactly what I needed, and it worked perfectly. Thank you!

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you! I’ve been digging in the Help pages of Microsoft for hours now. Frustrating. This did the trick!

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi Anne-Marie,

    I exported my outlined Illustrator logo as an EMF but when imported into Word the elements are distorted.

    Do you know of a solution to this?


  • Anonymous says:

    So helpful — could not have done this without your awesome tutorial!

  • Anonymous says:

    Ok, so the issue I’m having is that when I made a pdf my artwork is getting cropped into. the design has a blue bar that bleeds off of the left side of the page and my pdf now looks like it would look if you tried to print it and that part of the page is outside the printing area. Any ideas? Looks right in the document.

    Thank you for this wonderful article!!

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you for the fabulous instructions however, I ran into problems when I chose the overprint option. That was the only way I could position the PNG files I was adding and as soon as overprint or any other option besides wrap around (figure 7) was selected the images would no longer print. I am still working on it. If anyone has any ideas….

  • Anonymous says:

    Found this so invaluable!!! Thanks ever so much!

  • Anonymous says:

    thanks so much – this really helped a lot! :)

  • Anonymous says:

    Seriously, super informative, love the way that the article pretty much directly addresses the “troubles” of us corporate designers.


    This article is in need of some kind of update – Word 2010 is already out, and a lot of companies seem to have already upgraded, if not to the latest, then at least 2007. To boot, both of these document programs are a huge step DOWN from the 2003-2004 era of Microsoft Office in regards to design compatibility, which really says a lot… and might make a case for an updated method.

    I’m going to search out more articles like this, though!

  • Anonymous says:

    I do have Word 2010 for the PC, don’t think I’ve upgraded yet to the latest Mac version of Office. I’ll check my instructions and see if I can slip in an update. Thanks for the reminder, “guest” ;-)


  • Anonymous says:

    Need the best dimensions for creating the banner in illustrator?

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for your help, EMF worked perfectly

  • Anonymous says:

    This was a wonderfully clear and extremely useful article. Worked perfectly. It anticipated all of my issues and questions. Well done!

  • Anonymous says:

    Nice post. Thanks for sharing.
    You may check out the article below on how to convert Pdf document to word or Doc file through website.
    I hope that you will find it useful. cheers.

  • Anonymous says:

    Very helpful article… I was working in Windows Vista version of MS Office and Inkscape as an open-source alternative to Adobe products.

    I was able to translate this and make an excellent, well-formatted MS Word letterhead from my organization’s PDF letterhead. The margin and bleed issue relative to printers is going to be an issue with mine since I have color all the way to the edge, but there’s nothing I can do without changing the whole letterhead.

  • Anonymous says:

    Fantastic tutorial for me who knows Illustrator like the back of his proverbial hand and for whom Word is a foreign land.

    It enabled me to do what the client wanted with minimal pain, thank you thanks you!

  • Anonymous says:

    Great. that was driving me crazy. But what do you consider a reasonable price value for a job like this one?

  • Anonymous says:

    Awesome article, Anne-Marie; really nice to compare techniques, as I’ve been doing the dreaded InDesign to Word templatey goodness for years, and you are so right, it’s worth every penny the clients pay me.

    One thing you didn’t cover in much detail is how Word handles color. I’m often asked to recreate designs for specific document types other than Letterhead, which is where some of the more rarified Word stuff can come up. I’m a bit of a zealot about stylesheets for everything, and a big part of the work I do on Word templates is making them as fool-proof as possible, so that it actually takes work for the end users to go off the design guidelines. It’s pretty straight-forward with most things, but color is a complete nightmare.

    Designing with color in Word is frustratingly complex. You point out in your article that Word doesn’t understand anything but RGB, and while this isn’t gospel according to Microsoft any more—Word 2007 & 2010 for Windows and 2008 & 2011 for Mac all allow color definitions in Greyscale, CMYK, RGB & HSB, the programmers of Word seem to have made some really stupid assumptions about how to handle color, making it almost impossible to keep the colors used consistent.

    I just received some Word template files this morning that I designed, and the values I set for the type colours have subtle changes. The kind of changes that people who don’t care about design don’t notice.

    My designs called for converting Pantones into RGB values, which I used the InDesign values for consistency. Each Word stylesheet was built from scratch, using the values from InDesign. When the templates are saved, opening them again in Word shows different RBG values than the designed ones. It feels like a rounding error to me. In one instance, the RGB equivalent of Process Cyan (100%C) converts to 0, 174, 239, but changes on reopening to a different value. The same thing is happening to greyscale text elements. The style requires 85% K text, which is defined in the styles, then when the file is reopened, the font color is 74%K.

    This is a huge problem for people who use this software to earn their living in part by translating professional design into office-usable digital stationery.

    I often warn clients, both designers and end-users, that Word places severe limitations about what’s possible, but this kind of unpredictable problem defeats the purpose of trying, and will cost more than it saves.

  • bmcraec says:

    That anonymous poster was actually my comment. I just joined, but submitted that before doing so.

  • Anonymous says:

    Great in depth article and you do it just like I’ve been doing it for years, which is comforting. Also, i wasn’t aware that PNGs could be anything other than 72dpi !!!

    I came here looking for help on creating a template for a letterhead with continuation sheet where the cont sheet has a less deep margin, so you cover that with use of section breaks.

    I also now need help with placing a separate text box on the first page for addressee address details, so that it’s not repeated on the continuation sheets. Trying to make it as easy as poss for the client.

    Any suggestions?

  • Anonymous says:

    I was using JPGs which printed fine from Word on my Mac, but it was pixelated on the client’s print outs from Word on a PC. Thank you for the PNG information! It saved a lot of frustration!

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you! I’ve been struggling for days thinking that ‘watermark’ was the way to go, but it kept placing margins on me every time I saved as PDF. This is perfect!

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi, im wondering if theres a way to do this in Pages. So far I had done one and without these many steps, however, I don’t know if the PNG is embedded in the template or linked to the document. Theres no dialog box letting you choose.


  • Anonymous says:

    Hi, im wondering if theres a way to do this in Pages. So far I had done one and without these many steps, however, I don’t know if the PNG is embedded in the template or linked to the document. Theres no dialog box letting you choose.


  • Anonymous says:

    So helpful. Thank you!

  • Anonymous says:

    Lovely stuff Anne,

    I have another way of doing this which I would like you to know about and let me know if there be any problems with doing it this way.
    Do your artwork up in Indesign place a box the full size of the page with a paper fill behind the artwork, export that as a pdf and open in illustrator, export it as you described in this article. Open a Word document to the correct size and place the png file as a water mark with no transparency. This is great for same artwork every page only I think. but is a lot more straight forward. Set up your margins and away you go.

  • Anonymous says:

    Your instructions were fab!!
    Importing my Letterhead design into Word for my client, worked a treat. Thank you!!

  • Anonymous says:

    YOU ARE A GENIUS. Thank you thank you thank you.

  • Anonymous says:

    I was dreading making a letterhead for my client, but your post has made my life infinitely easier. Thanks so much for consolidating so much important information in one place! I even took notes!

  • Anonymous says:

    I’m not a designer but this was exactly what I needed. I love the details! Thanks EL

  • Anonymous says:

    I know this article is 5 years old. Does this method still work if you’re using CS6 and a current version of Word?? Thanks!

  • CARLIEB says:

    Help! I can’t get the Format Picture dialog box to appear when I click on my imported graphic and go to Format> Picture. I’m sure it’s really simple?

  • NotAGeek says:

    HerGeekness, It’s stationery, not “stationary.” Stationary means something else. But thanks for the how-tos.

  • URLBar says:

    Thank you so much !! Every once in a while I get this odd client that wants “everything to work in Word”. Your article helped saved a lot of time !! Thank you. Keep them coming :)

  • Peter Gabany - RGD says:

    Finally, clear, concise, HELPFUL direction. We hate MS Word, but a necessary evil. Thank you for this helpful article – now if MS could get this into their instruction set…

  • cawcacaw says:

    This did not work for me, I seem to be the only one so I hate to even throw this out there, since I feel like it might be user error.  I am not heavily experienced in adobe,  I usually have minutes to put together something for my company and use photoshop if it is 20 or more minutes and publisher if I have even less time.  I appreciate someone bridging the gap between the office side and the design side.  Once I had 20 minutes to remove the background from a complicated photo.  After doing so super quickly to meet the print deadline everything looked great.  The next day they wanted the same ad on a 6 foot banner.  No one understood why it took so long to redo the thing I had done already.  They don’t get why you can’t turn a business card on red cardstock into full page ad, and you can crop and paste elements and get asked why it looks grainy or spend hours redesigning it, matching text etc… to be asked why you wasted so much time.  So the simple fact that art people are still trying for business people is astounding.  That being said, no one in the business world understands or cares about things the way art people do.  I am sad when I make something magical and people slaughter it with suggestions and changes so by all means you have the right to be upset if someone prints your work low quality or bastardizes your text.  But give us a break.  The boss tells people like me to print and we don’t have time to load the letterhead in the printer sometimes we just need it on the computer.  And yes I have multiple drawers of paper types on multiple printers and notes on the printers saying, “do not adjust paper tray settings or refill drawers, ask for help”.  But someone always has to ruin it for the rest of us.  Bottom line is, everything yall do is great.  But rarely does anyone in the business world have the mindset/talent/schooling/appreciation for it.  Once I made beautiful letterhead.  A year later a new girl changed hers to be green lettering with 3 fonts.  Everyone loved it.  There was no way to explain to the lady who uses comic sans as her everyday font why mine was better.  I know why you do it.  I always secretly hope no one with a design degree looks closely at some of my stuff.  After reading tons of comments I really appreciate the tips and sympathize with the complaints.  I still don’t know why I can’t work it out.  I saved it as both types of file in illustrator, neither will open in word.  I will have to do it another way but hopefully I can master it incase I ever need it.  Oh and I am using cs5 and office 2007 and 2010 wouldn’t open the files.  Seriously might be me.  I guess I wanted my story outthere in case it helped bridge the gap.  And sorry for saying art vs business, that’s just what my sister and I call it.  Oh and I know publisher has a bad rep on the artsy side but I tend to use it as my document software because word can be so frustrating with the limitations.   So I’m gonna go use one of the simple methods that lose quality to make my letterhead work. And thanks for all the suggestions that made me realize there was an easy way if I wasn’t going for high quality!

  • Christine Cole says:

    THANK YOU.  Worked like a charm. Crisp and beautiful using .png.

  • guest says:

    I am a designer, but I work in an educational setting where Microsoft Office reins supreme, so I’ve had to except the many limitation of this software. I build as much as possible outside of the Office programs and just rebuild in Word or PowerPoint. Even though this would not be my first choice, my clients (a.k.a. technology-challenged faculty) are pleased, which works for me!

  • Jan M says:

    Anne-Marie, have you tried saving an InDesign file in PDF, opening it in Acrobat (not Reader) and doing “Save As Other…/Microsoft Word/Word Document”? It’s like magic. I have done a product page for a client recently, which included three column tables and an image of a product and was amazed how well it came out. I could’t have done it better in Word in a day, had I built it there from scratch. And all it took was about 30 seconds of my day (my product page was already in InDesign). It also saved me a headache and a lot of swearing! Thank you Acrobat. :-)

    • Anne-Marie Concepcion says:

      Jan, cool! I have had little luck on the Mac side with Acrobat’s Save As Word. Curious if you were on a Mac or on Windows, and which ver of Acro and Office are you using?

  • Gary Schelling says:

    Anne-Marie, I’ve been doing something similar to thisprocess for a while now. All my small business clients want e-letterhead! (I’ve had a couple who ask for business card “blanks” too, and it’s not very different.) When you mentioned “export selected” in Illustrator, I thought “you should be able to do that,” and it turns out you can. The secret is nesting your artboards. Make each letterhead segment a new artboard, snapped to the edges of the art. Then, when you export yor artwork, select the use artboards option at the bottom of the save box. Alas, this technique only works for PNGs, not EMFs or WMFs.Cheers!

  • Lukas Engqvist says:

    I teach my students to convert via PDF. Still needs some massage in word but at a crunch Indd to PDF and then save as word is a quick fix :) styles need a bit of tweasking, and some text is best to create outlines so that word doesn’t mess things up.

  • Guest says:

    Thank you so much for this. Life saving stuff.

  • Kristi says:

    Thank you! Your information was very helpful and relevant as someone still using CS4.

  • shristi says:

    I have a physical letterhead of the company where i work with recommendation.It is hand written,will it be okay?

  • sofiacandice says:

    help please update this tutorial for those in cs6 and above!

  • ciaoangel says:

    Is there a reason when viewing image that was inserted appears to be a watermark, with transparency…not sure how to fix this?

  • akdia says:

    If you are only worried about a single page layout, I export my design as a full page and use the watermark feature. I don’t decrease the opacity. It works for me and is duplicated if they add another page. I still have not figured out how to use a second page option though. Hopefully this will work for someone else too..

  • akdia says:

    I should have given some more detail. I export my layout from Indesign as a High Res. PDF. In Word I import my layout as a watermark, the image does not look bad. It does not look like awful like a jpg and png file.

  • This article has fast-tracked me for creating a Word letterhead template that will resemble my client’s professionally printed letterhead, with real-world results. The suggestion to explain to the client what he should expect is great advice.
    It is a pleasure reading an entire article where every its and it’s is properly applied.
    You may enjoy this poster about UPPER & lowercase featuring the ampersand:

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