Yes, it’s true – Word has its limitations; it’s not as versatile as InDesign for designing printed material. However, it is the leading word processing software, and most designs can be accurately represented in Word as a custom template, keeping in mind the limitations of End User’s knowledge base. When creating templates based on a branded design, every effort is made to marry the design with overall efficiency and ease-of-use.
To facilitate a more seamless template creation process, please consider the following information.
Provided by Designer
While every project is unique, there are common aspects to be answered before the project can begin.
- All sizes marked in points (not picas)
- Custom colours as RGB values, specific positions on the colour theme
- Different First Page (margins, header/footer image & content)
- Font(s) – either built in or custom (purchase price added onto invoice)
- Images as JPGs, with correct size and resolution as per design
- Margins (per section, if different)
- Number of columns of text (as per design)
- Page size and amount
- Photographs (as needed)
- Styles designs (see below)
- Version of Word
The main reason for creating a custom template are the formatting styles that separates the document as well-designed & brand-specific. Before the template can be initiated the designer has to provide specifics for each style (body text, heading 1, title, bullet, list paragraph, etc.).
- Bullets: spacing between bullet and text, bullet symbols, bullet hierarchy spacing
- Font: type, size, colour, and any other discerning factors (bold, underline, all capitals, etc.)
- Highlighting: line above or below, weight of said line, background colour for entire paragraph of text
- Indenting & alignment: left or right or centered, stepped in or flush left under headings
- Kerning ( the space between letters) isn’t specified in Word other than ‘condensed’ and ‘expanded’ in points
- Leading, known in Word as Line Spacing
- Names of Styles. Caution! Most should be left as is since Word refers to certain Styles when pulling information for example, Table of Contents
- Numbered Lists: spacing between number and text, numbering types (A., 1.1, Appendix 1, (iii), 1.1 Section Title, etc.), bullet hierarchy spacing
- Spacing: before and after in points, keeping in mind this flows throughout the entire template for each Style, regardless of surrounding Styles
There are simple templates and more complex templates. And with each complexity added, the time to create the custom template increases. The following is intended to help define how much time is required for the most common types of templates, from building off what Word provides as built-in Styles to creating completely unique custom Styles. As long as all the information is provided from the ‘Provided by Designer’ section before the project starts, the hours quoted below will be all that’s required to create a custom template. A reasonable amount of back and forth with drafts is built in to each Option, as long as the initial Scope of Work is adhered to.
1 Page Template
This would be used for a simple letterhead, fax sheet, poster, meeting agendas, meeting minutes, leaflet, etc.
One 8.5″ x 11″page template, taking into account everything from the ‘Provided by Designer’ section. This can be provided with or without Style samples visible in the document body, which the End User would use for reference on how the document should look, but would delete before editing.
|Same as Option 1, plus:
2+ Page Template
This would be used for a longer letterhead, brochures, memos, simple reports, conference agendas, etc. Most documents fall under this category.
Two 8.5″ x 11″ page template, taking into account everything from the ‘Provided by Designer’ section. This can be provided with or without Style samples visible in the document body, which the End User would use for reference on how the document should look, but would delete before editing. While only two pages would be provided, the template can be used to create much longer documents, repeating the First Page design with each new Section, with the second and subsequent pages in the Section automatically taking on the design of the Second Page.
|Same as Option 1, plus:
Multipage Page Report Template
This would be used for most reports, like Financial Statements, Management Discussion & Analysis, Engineering Reports, HSE Manuals, etc.
Multiple 8.5″ x 11″ page template, taking into account everything from the ‘Provided by Designer’ section. This can be provided with or without Style samples visible in the document body, which the End User would use for reference on how the document should look, but would delete before editing. While only a few pages would be provided (enough to showcase all the customization), the template can be used to create much longer documents, repeating the First Page design with each new Section, with the second and subsequent pages in the Section automatically taking on the design of the Second Page.
|Same as Option 1, plus:
There are two options if the end goal is to have a template and a document created from that template, complete with content. This option does not include editing the content, just the way the content looks and flows throughout the template and the document. If any issues are found in the document while inserting the content, the template will be updated to reflect the improved design.
This would be used if a complete document is the end goal of the template creation process.
.25 hour per page
.5 hour per page
|Same as Option 1, plus:
Definitions & Explanations
A lot of the previous information makes the assumption you’re familiar with Word and designing documents, which may or may not be the case. I hope you’ll find this section of definitions and explanations useful, and if there is anything else you’d like help understanding, do not hesitate to bring it to my attention.
Most documents have one column of text, much like this page. A newspaper or bulletin has at least two columns, if not more. Some designs incorporate sections where columns make more sense. The End User has to keep in mind, this segregation of two columns in the midst of a one column document means there are Section Breaks surrounding the two column section, so any deletion of the formatting markings for the separation of sections will result in losing the two column setting, reverting to one column.
In most instances, Content Controls are more versatile than Legacy Form Fields, which require the document to be in Protect Mode in order to fill in the form. Content Controls can be linked in such a way where editing one of the same name (like Order Number) updating all of the same name throughout the document. Content Controls can reside inside Headers and Footers, while Legacy Form Fields cannot. Rich text, date calendars, check boxes, drop down boxes are the most commonly used Content Controls.
Different First Page
In Word, there is the option of having the first page of each section have a different header & footer automatically. By ‘different’ Word means different from the rest of the document, not different from previous First Pages. For example, if you want a large logo in the top left of every new Section but a small logo on subsequent pages in that section, ‘different first page’ is the option to go with. When Section Break>Next Page is chosen, the different first page design will show up, and the second design will follow in the subsequent pages.
Indenting & Alignment
Indenting can be done as per tab spacing options, and stepped in just means you indent further for each level down you go. For example:
- First Level
- Second Level
- Third Level
- Second Level
Left aligned Centre aligned Right aligned
The space between letters. Each font has its own set space for each character. Kerning isn’t specified in Word other than ‘condensed’ and ‘expanded’ in points.
Known in Word as Line Spacing, it can be modified to be an exact measurement in points, or a multiple of the line, or ‘at least’ a certain size.
Legacy Form Fields
Fields inserted throughout a formatted and designed template, which require the document to be in Protect Mode in order to fill in the form, leaving the bulk of the document untouched and only the End User’s information in the fields as editable. Legacy Form Fields can be linked via bookmarking and referencing, so when information is entered into the original Field (the bookmark), all fields referencing back to that bookmark update automatically. Text, check box, and drop down boxes are the most common Legacy Form Fields.
Used in more complex documents, numbered lists are generally used when one has to refer to a specific paragraph in the document somewhere else in the document. As in “in subSection 2.1, paragraph b), it clearly states…”.
Numbered lists are tricky, as they can continue from a previous list, even if that list was 10 pages back. You can ‘restart at 1’ so you don’t have the confusion of continuous numbering when it doesn’t make sense, but if custom options were made on the first part of the numbering and if it’s not all linked properly, the spacing can get out of alignment as the ‘restart at 1’ is associated with Word’s basic setting.
Linked to Styles
One of the great things about numbered lists is they can be linked to Headings so everything under that heading nests within that numbering system (Section 2, Heading 2.1, subsection 2.1.3 etc.). This is also where adjustments are made so the ‘restart at 1’ doesn’t alter the spacing.
Picture Insertion Macro
This is a small macro that helps constrain an image insertion to a predetermined size. When an End User double clicks on the box, a separate window opens where the End User can choose Insert>Picture, and when they close that window, the image is in the right spot in the right size. This is a bit dependent on the aspect ratio of the image, as a 4″x6″ photo doesn’t have the same ratio as a 5″x7″.
Placeholders, ‘click & type’
Instead of a Form Field that is only useable once a document is in protected mode (where nothing is editable except the Form Fields) a ‘click & type’ placeholder merely holds the place of where text is to be inserted, and prompts the End User to click the field, and type in the information.
Points versus Picas (1 point = 0.0833 picas)
In Word, everything is done in points.
- A point is equal to 1/72 inch. Points are the measurement most commonly used in print to indicate the size of type, as well as the space between lines, referred to as line spacing or leading. In some instances, points are also used to measure the width and depth of a column.
- A pica is a hair less than 1/6 inch, and contains 12 points. Picas are typically used to represent fixed horizontal measurements, most often column width. They are commonly used when designing newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and ads.
Quick Parts a.k.a Auto Text
Vast sections of text and tables and images can be typed up, formatted, and then saved as a Quick Part in the Building Blocks of a template. When needed, the End User can simply go to Insert>Quick Part>Auto Text. Where this would be useful is when a Report has a few options in legal wording, depending on the situation. Instead of having each option in the template to be deleted, the End User can easily just pick the correct version from the Quick Part.
In more complex documents, I’ve used this option for different forms, which are entirely created in Word, inserted into the Quick Part, and pulled out as needed by the End User. In more simplified documents, signatures or different salutations can be stored here and pulled out as needed.
RGB color space or RGB color system, constructs all the colors from the combination of the Red, Green and Blue colors. The red, green and blue use 8 bits each, which have integer values from 0 to 255. This makes 256*256*256=16777216 possible colors.
An example of how I would prefer to receive a value from you regarding each different colour in your scheme is R:184 G: 61 B:104.
There are three types of shading the space around text: highlighting the text directly, inserting the text within a text box or within a table cell.
The easiest of the three to use is highlighting the text directly, but this limits the design to the spacing surrounding the font by the font’s designer. Within a text box allows a wider space between the edge of the colour and the text, and allows a border all the way around the text, but it now functions as more of a picture, and not text that flows along with the rest of the document. Shading within a tables gives the most control of design, but is the least End User-friendly, as there are many nuances to this option. If the End User chooses from a Quick Table or if the Table is left for them to fill in only, this solution provides the most versatility in design, but not quite the same as InDesign.
For each and every paragraph in Word, there is a certain amount of space before the paragraph and a certain amount after the paragraph. When you have a heading you may want more space between the paragraph prior to the heading but less space between the heading and the paragraph following it. Or in a bulleted list, you might want space below it, but not between each bullet point. Each Style has the option to tweak the spacing like this, and it flows through the rest of the document. While there is the temptation to put a lot of space between some headings and not others, keep in mind how the end document is going to be used. Having a Page Break before every Heading 1 might only look good on the first few pages, but create a choppy looking document afterwards, but creating multiple Heading 1 options is also not very feasible, as it will confuse the End User as to which one to use in which circumstance.
Styles a.k.a. Quick Style
Styles, when used properly, greatly increase the efficiency of document creation. Table of Contents are linked to Styles, each Style can be modified and it will update throughout the entire document to reflect the change, fonts are linked into the Styles and updating the Font Theme updates all the Styles as well. If there is one aspect of Word every End User should learn, it’s Styles.
Word has a lot of Styles already built in to the program. They’re all set up in the template Word presents when it opens up, Normal.dotx, which most End Users don’t realize is actually a template. The spacing and fonts and bullet symbols and tabs and style names are all already set up, ready to go. The main common ones already show up on the Quick Styles Gallery, which is entirely editable.
Each and every Style is customizable. Colour, font, spacing, effect, tabs, symbols, hierarchy in lists, linking to multilevel lists, borders…. The list goes on and on. What shows up on the Quick Styles Gallery is editable, and can be constrained to show just the customized Styles.
When this option is chosen, each Style is shown on the page so the End User sees how it’s to be used. This can be done with a simple set of Styles or all the Styles and every Quick Table, or just instructions on how to use the template.
Table a.k.a Quick Table
Incredibly specific tables can be created and then saved as a Quick Table so when the End User needs to access the same type of table, it’s available in a blank format ready to be filled in. This is an incredible time saver for intricately designed tables like Financial Statements!
Tables as Design Elements
There are designs with specific placement of text that isn’t normally easily supported by Word without the help of a Table the End User doesn’t see the gridlines. Once this type of design element is used, the time it takes to create and test the document extends. For example, a complex design called for a small red line above the Section Title, which meant one cell was split in two to accommodate the red line’s size. The top of the photograph the designer wanted had to line up with the top of Heading, but the caption had to be at a certain height as well. This type of design extends the creation time considerably, as every space around each Style has to be measured and tested to ensure everything maintains the proper alignment. Once the End User receives a template such as this, it’s a good idea to have a small ‘how to use this’ session to make sure they understand tabbing through the table and typing (instead of clicking on the existing text and replacing it) could pose issues for the overall design.
A reusable design of a Word document, where multiple documents can be initiated from. Once all design and formatting changes are made to the template, it can then be saved in such a way the End User can simply navigate to Open>New to locate the template, and a blank version will open. The template is not changed in any way, as each new document created from the template will automatically be saved under a new name.
A text box can hover almost anywhere, be filled with colour, have a colourful border and/or text. It can function much the same as a picture, with text flowing around it in a variety of ways (square, tight, through, top & bottom, in front or behind text).
See RGB for a sample of the Colour Theme dialogue box. Each template can have specific themes for fonts and colours that Word then uses to apply across the document in the background, so when Charts or Tables are created the colours and fonts match the Theme.
Hopefully, this has demystified the process of what is involved in creating a branded template. Let me know how I can help you out with making an awesome template for your company!