How to Create a Letterhead

How to Create a Letterhead

Read Time: 4 Minutes


12 Dec 2019

Update: 17th May 2023

When you’re designing your own company letterhead, making sure everything’s set out how it should be can be a little daunting. That’s why we’ve created these step-by-step instructions to take away any questions you might have. 

We’ll show you exactly how to create a letterhead so that it prints perfectly every time. We’ve used a range of popular UK design programs including Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, so you can pick the one that suits your access and ability level.

How to Make Letterheads in Word

Microsoft Word is a fantastic program for beginner designers who want a quick and easy way to create a letterhead design. Here are some step-by-step instructions to help you make letterheads in Word.

Designing with a Template

One of the easiest ways to make your own letterhead in Word is to use a free template. Here’s how:

  1. Open Microsoft Word and go to New
  2. Use the search bar to search for “letterheads”
  3. Choose a letterhead template you’d like to customise
  4. Click Create
  5. Delete the letter content from the design (i.e. the placeholder text) ready to print


Setting Up the Printing Specifications

Whether you’re designing with a template, or designing from scratch, it’s important to make sure your Word document is set up to the right specifications for online printing. 

  1. Go to Layout > Page Setup
  2. Increase all Margins by 3mm (or 0.118 inches) – this is your safety area, so keep all important text and images at least this far away from the edge
  3. Go to the Size tab and choose A4
  4. Add another 3mm (0.118 inches) to each measurement for the bleed area


Inserting Pictures

High resolution images, like your logo, can make a great addition to your letterhead design. Here’s how to insert them using Microsoft Word:

  1. Go to Insert > Pictures
  2. Click on the image you want to use from your computer and select Insert
  3. You can position the image by dragging and dropping it
  4. Resize it by dragging the corner handles


Adding Text

If you’ve used a template, you’ll be able to replace the place holder copy. If not, we recommend using textboxes because they allow the most control over where you position your text. To add a textbox in Word:

  1. Go to Insert > Text Box and choose which textbox you’d like to add
  2. Type your copy into the text box
  3. Resize the box by pulling the corners
  4. Reposition the box by clicking and dragging it on the page

If you’re not sure what information you should always include on a letterhead, here are the general and legal requirements.


Inserting Shapes

Shapes are a great way to build your letterhead design in Word. Here’s how to add them.

  1. Go to Insert > Shapes
  2. Choose a shape or line from the menu
  3. Click and drag to reposition on the page, and use the corner handles to resize
  4. To change the colour and borders, click on the shape and go to Shape Format > Shape Fill or Shape Outline


Export Your Letterhead as a PDF

By saving your design as a PDF, this flattens the layers, meaning fonts won’t change and design elements won’t shift when it’s sent to print. Make sure you save a normal Word doc copy too so you can go back and edit it.

  1. Go to File > Save As
  2. Name your file
  3. Click on the drop-down menu to select a file type and choose PDF
  4. Press Save



How to Make Letterheads in Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is another popular way to create letterhead designs. Here’s exactly how to create a letterhead in Photoshop.

Creating the Document

To set your Photoshop canvas up to the correct specifications for letterhead printing:

  1. Select File > New
  2. In the Preset Details, change the Width to 216mm and the Height to 303mm for an A4 letterhead document with bleed area
  3. Set the resolution to 300 pixels/inch
  4. Change the colour mode to CMYK
  5. Click Create


Inserting Images

To add images, like your logo, you need to:

  1. Go to File > Open
  2. Choose the picture you want to insert from your computer and double click; your image will appear in a new tab
  3. To move the file across to the right document, click on the image and drag it to your letterhead design tab 
  4. You can resize your image by using Ctrl + T and dragging the corners, and reposition it by dragging and dropping it on the canvas


Inserting Text

The next step is to add your important text, like contact details. To add text in Photoshop:

  1. Select the Type tool from the Tools Panel (looks like a T)
  2. Click and drag your mouse across the screen to draw your text box
  3. Start typing to enter your text
  4. You can change the colour, font and size of your text in the tools bar along the top of the screen
  5. To move the textbox, choose the Select tool then drag the shape to reposition – drag the corner of the box to resize


Saving Your Artwork

To save your letterhead artwork for print, you’ll need to save as normal (to create an editable document) and export it as a PDF. This flattens the layers, which can help solve a lot of common print issues. Here’s best practice for exporting your design for print in Photoshop:

  1. Go to File > Save As
  2. Select Photoshop PDF from the drop down
  3. Save your artwork out as PDF/X-1a:2001 from the general settings
  4. In compression make sure Do Not Downsample is selected from the drop down



How to Make Letterheads in Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is a powerful tool and a great option for designing your letterhead for print. Here are our top tips for making letterheads in Illustrator.

Creating a New Document

To set your letterhead canvas up to the right specifications for printing:

  1. Go to File > New
  2. Give your file a name
  3. Change the size to A4
  4. Add 3mm bleed area to all sides of the document
  5. Under Advanced, changed the colour to CMYK and make sure resolution is at least 300dpi
  6. Click OK to start designing


Adding Images

To add images, like your logo, to your letterhead design in Illustrator:

  1. Go to File > Place
  2. Choose the image from your computer you want and double click it
  3. To resize the image, drag the corners
  4. To reposition it, drag and drop the image from the middle


Inserting Text

There are a few essential bits of text your letterhead will need, such as contact details and name of your business. To add text to your design:

  1. Select the Type Tool from the tools panel (looks like a T)
  2. Click and drag to draw a textbox on your letterhead
  3. Type into the textbox to add text, choose fonts, colours and sizes
  4. To move or reposition your textbox, click the Select Tool (looks like a cursor arrow)


Exporting Your Document

Our preferred file type is PDF, because this helps embed all the important information on your design so it’s ready for print. Here’s how to save your letterhead as a PDF.

  1. Go to File > Save As
  2. Select Illustrator PDF from the Save as Type drop-down menu
  3. In the Adobe PDF Options dialog box, select the following Preset option: PDF/X-1a:2001
  4. In compression make sure Do Not Downsample is selected from the drop down
  5. Save your file



How to Create a Letterhead Online

One of the easiest ways to design your letterhead for print is by using our free online design tool. We have loads of pre-made designs you can customise, as well as blank templates if you want to start from scratch.

Here’s how to use our design online tool.

Now you know how to create a letterhead, the only thing left to do is start designing! Here are our top 13 letterhead examples to help inspire your own. Or view our full range of business stationery if you want to create a larger custom set, including compliment slips and note cards.


About the Author

Hi! I’m James, the Graphic Designer at instantprint. I like helping customers by creating helpful print and designs tips and guides to make sure their artwork looks the best that it can.