Templates

A template is a file that assists in designing professional looking documents, such as letterheads or presentations. The benefit of using a template is that all the formatting is complete; you just input the appropriate text, which will differ depending on the circumstance.

Why are Personalised Templates Effective?

Personalised templates are an effective form of branding, and creating a consistent and coherent brand personality through the design phase is vital. Beyond this visual advantage, templates – especially letterheads – can also be treated as legally binding documents. Recipients are able to recognise correspondence on paper embossed with your official template as valid by rules of law and business. In this sense, tailoring a company template is very useful in maintaining professionalism throughout conduct with partners, other organisations, and both potential and current clients. The bourgeoning utilisation of personalised templates in business communication suggests that establishing credibility amongst recipients without a template is generally much harder to achieve.

How to Create a Template Using Word

If you were planning on using a document over and over again, it would be efficient practice to turn that document into a template. Here are the steps in how to create a new template:

  1. Open the document.
  2. Add, delete, or change any text, graphics, or formatting, and make any other changes that you want to appear in all new documents that you base on the template.
  3. On the File menu, click Save As.
  4. On the Format pop-up menu, click Word Template (.dotx).
  5. In the Save As box, type the name that you want to use for the new template, and then click Save.
    • Unless you select a different location, the template is saved in /Users/username/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/User Templates/My Templates.
  6. On the File menu, click Close.

Tip: To organise templates, use the Finder to create a new folder in /Users/username/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/ User Templates/My Templates, and then save your template in the new folder

Sharing Templates

  • Templates are created to be shared
  • They should be saved on server, DropBox, GoogleDrive or similar cloud service – for us this is the J:Drive
  • However, by default, templates are stored in C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates

You can use word to change the location of were you need them to be stored

How to Change the Templates to Store them in a Shared Location

  1. Start Word.
  2. If you are using Word 2007, click the Microsoft Office Button, and then click Word Options.
 If you are using Word 2010, choose Options from the File menu.
  3. Click Advanced.
  4. Under General, click File Locations.
  5. Click User templates, and then click Modify.
  6. In the Modify Location dialog box, change the setting in the Folder name list or the Look in list to the folder in which you want to save your new templates. Then, click OK.
  7. Click OK or Close to close the Options dialog box.
  8. The changed path is noted in the Windows registry. The path is used the next time that you want to save a new template. For more information, see the "Changes in the Windows registry settings for the user templates file location and for the workgroup templates file location" section.


How to Begin Designing a Personalised Template

It is important to capture your company’s identity in your personalised template. This is facilitated through consistency, which should be maintained between all points of contact you have with your customer. There are a number of factors to take into consideration when developing your own template:

Your Business

  • Your template should help reflect your corporate identity. If you are to include graphics in your template, make sure this corresponds with the message you are trying to display. For a leading company, a professional logo would be most appropriate.

Main Product/Services Offered

  • Template should share what you have to offer through a tag line or logo. Especially if it is the first contact a reader has with your business, give them an idea of what you offer.

Purpose

  • The conceptual purpose of templates is to establish a business’ image, as well as professionalism. It can actually serve as an advertising vehicle for the company. In conjunction with your logo, make sure your contact details, including address, phone number, and email, are made clear. This enhances the accessibility of your business.

Layout

  • Avoid fonts that are hard to read. Consistency should be maintained through product or service offering, website and template. In fact, at any point of contact with your customers you should aim to uphold consistency. Colour scheme, font size and the font itself, are all factors that need to be taken into consideration.

Budget

  • Finally, it is important to keep in mind the resources and capabilities of your company. This is especially relevant to those templates which require printing, such as letterheads. The use of colour will significantly amplify costs, so it may be worthwhile to initially consider whether a single shade or coloured template is going to be more appropriate for you company.

Visual Identity and Templates

  • Make sure your template supports your visual identity, mindful that in B2B impressions are formed by many sources.
  • A brand is built up, in consumers mind, from repeated exposure to certain elements...
  • In B2B, they are not big-ticket items, but a collection of smaller interactions, such as:
    • Meetings
    • Email
    • Letters
    • Proposals
    • Presentations
    • Product
    • Product Packaging
    • Website
    • Media
    • Ads etc.
  • Many of these touch points use templates that represent our corporate identity.
  • Our brand, align.me, is the aggregate of the impressions formed from all these small interactions.
  • Therefore the templates, which are essential to these interactions, must be consistent, clear, complete and efficient.
  • They are the primary from of communication with clients and potential clients, and clients will form impressions of our company based on these documents.

Prima Communications have identified a number of benefits that occur as a result of personalised templates:

Consistency - A template ensures the same points and details are related every time. There’s no need to worry about missing information or what was done or not done previously.

Clarity - Templates remove the guesswork from documentation. Because information and details are outlined for the user, the purpose of the document is clear and concise, streamlining the documentation process.

Form - Rather than reviewing plans or procedures that all look different and contain information in varying order, templates allow for a consistency of form that enables users to know where to find what they’re looking for in every document.

Completeness - Templates ensure that all necessary information is included in a document. Each time the template is used, specific details are required to fill in the page. This makes it hard to erroneously leave something out.

Efficiency - Instead of rewriting entire documents each time they’re needed, templates enable a document to be created once and then reused over and over again. The only difference from document to document is the specific information being provided. This saves valuable time and money, because employees no longer have to reinvent the wheel when they work. All they have to do is open the template and start providing the required information.

The Collaboration that Exists between the Marketer, Designer, and the Creator

When contemplating the design of a template, it is important to know who is involved. The 3 main players are:

  • Designer
  • Marketer
  • Template creator

There must be collaboration between all three for the production of a successful template. By breaking down this template creation process, businesses are able to realise the greatest value from their end product.

First of all, the marketer, who has a sound understanding of the company’s image and personality, generates an idea for the template. This idea is not so much about the design for the template as it is about CONTENT. The marketer will specify what content he wants see in each of the templates. Essentially, the marketer needs to identify how they want the templates to be used. Once decided upon, this information is passed onto a designer who has the specialised capabilities to transform these ideas into a physical design.

Here is an example of one of our own template designs, where the specifics are defined around the perimeter of the page: The designer needs to detail EXACTLY how he/she wants the template to look and feel. https://align.me/files/Example%20Design%201_0.jpg

You now need someone very knowledgeable to build it. The instructions given by the designer will enable the creator to gain an in-depth understanding of the end design, as well as possible variations. From this point, the creator will determine the most effective layout will be arrived upon and the final template will be produced. The goal of the creator at this stage is to honour the original design without losing functionality.

Communication is vital to ensure the smooth transfer of information between each of these participants. Coherency of ideas through each of these stages will enable a company to procure the most effective and appropriate end template.


Styles and the Role they Play

  • The pre-meditated style of templates force users to honour the templates design.
  • They make it easier to share content between documents (as the styles are consistent, whereas customised headings will rarely be consistent).
  • Styles are sets of formats that you can apply to selected pages, text, frames, and other elements in your document to quickly change their appearance. When you apply a style, you apply a whole group of formats at the same time.
  • They allow you to shift the emphasis from what the text (or page, or other element) looks like, to what the text is.
  • Not only can styles help you make sure all of your documents look consistent, they dramatically reduce the time it takes to format a document.
  • Additionally, styles are the building blocks for outlines and tables of contents. Word automatically creates a table of contents based on your headings when you click the Table of Contents command on the Insert menu.

Pre-fills

  • These are the rather annoying fields you have to populate.
  • They appear in documents using any of our templates, and force you to edit any of the customisable fields,
  • This will avoid the trap of failing for forgetting to do so.
  • They also make sure that each template is personalised to the reader.

How to Balance Function and Design

  • A balance must be struck between the functionality and creativeness of the template.
  • The company image needs to be taken into consideration when deciding on the optimum balance between these to aspects.
  • For example, the template for align.me is going to have a very different balance of functionality and design compared to a baby-wear or confectionary retailer.
  • In this way, it is essential to determine who your company audience is – small delicate print, with lots of white space is pleasing to a designer and may look good, but may frustrate the middle age businessman who has to squint to read the text, when really we should be making it as easy and pleasurable experience as possible.
  • You also need a sound understanding of what your recipient needs to take away from your template, whether that is the personality of the company or simply an address, should form the basis of your rationale for this balance.

Common Mistakes when Developing Personalised Templates

Poor choice of font

Each font has a unique 'personality', so you need to ensure that you choose the one that is consistent with the rest of your business. Poor font choice can reduce the clarity, and ultimately the effectiveness, of your document.

Incorrect Page size

This is a very common mistake for something seemingly so simple. The simplicity of this factor is the reason it is often overlooked – it is very important to double check.

Overcrowding the Letterhead

There are often so many things businesses want to include and the template can quickly become cluttered. Plan ahead and make decisions early on what information is really necessary. The more open space you can provide, the more professional the design will be.

Spelling Errors

There is nothing more unprofessional than sending your brand new, personalised (and probably expensive) letterhead to a client riddled with misspelt words and grammatical errors. Unless, of course, you are aiming to implicate your specialty for maladroit and unprofessional business practice… But let’s just assume that for argument sake, you’re not. It is absolutely vital to make sure your template has been triple checked for any mistakes, in order to sustain a credible image.

The ‘Canned’ Template

Try and avoid using generic template designs that any Tom, Dick or Harry could get his hands on. Even when restricted by budget, there are many simple ways you can customise your template to differentiate your company from the rest of the pack. While these ‘canned’ templates can be very useful in terms of layout, depending to heavily on them in defining all of your design elements can lead to a lackluster and unappealing end product.