Letterhead Design Essentials

Nearly all of your proposals, sales letters and other correspondence are presented on letterhead, making your letterhead design crucial to your organization’s image. Great letterhead design makes intelligent use of graphic elements to craft a precise image and leave a perfect impression of your philosophy.

The following letterhead design essentials will put you on the right track for crafting excellent letterhead:

Letterhead elements

Most letterhead includes a logo as the focus with contact information centered or off to one side. Some include a tagline or graphic banner elements that add a touch of character. Often, letterhead will also include a footer with contact information, and this element is sometimes carried over to second sheets (blank pages of matching paper). Even though most letterhead contains the same basic elements, the presentation of these elements is what sets great letterhead from mediocre letterhead.

Letterhead style

Your letterhead should match your existing elements, including your logo, business cards and website. If you don’t already have these things or are seeking a fresh start, reinventing your identity through design can be fun yet challenging. It’s important to consider what you do, how you do it and who you do it for to better convey those ideas in your design.

Use colors, shapes, lines and patterns

Use colors, shapes, lines and patterns to accentuate your letterhead’s elements. Lines can be used to separate the banner or footer from the main body; contact information and taglines can be placed in color-filled shapes, and patterns can be used as a blending option for your shapes and lines. Simplicity is key. You don’t want your letterhead to be too busy, but being creative within these bounds is a great way project a powerful identity.

Just because letterhead has basic elements doesn’t mean it has to have basic design. Don’t be afraid to break the mold, especially when it comes to your banner placement. Instead of a logo on the left, contact info on the right model, try centering your logo and dropping your contact info down to the next line in a patterned box aligned to the right. Maybe you can position your banner farther up for a slim ‘n trim look, or drop it down for a bold, bigger-than-life appeal.

Mind your Ps and Qs (and CMYKs)

To ensure your letterhead looks as great off the press as it does on your screen, use a professional letterhead template to ensure your bleed lines, cutlines and safety area are all properly aligned. Design in four-color process (CMYK) and at least a 300 dpi resolution.

Don’t forget the envelopes

Your letterhead is your identity and should be packaged in a complementary envelope designed to match. You’ll also want to order plenty of blank second sheets so you can draft professional multi-page correspondence.

Knowing what to put on your letterhead is easy; finding the best way to present the information and accentuate your image is the challenging part. Follow these letterhead design essentials to craft winning letterheads that leave a lasting impression on your audience.

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