What are custom Word templates?

Every business should use custom Word templates to support their brand and make documents consistent. Our Word templates help thousands of users across the globe every day creating professional documents quickly and accurately.

MS Word Proposal Template Design

But what exactly makes a custom Word template easy to work with?

What good custom Word Templates need to have

Various elements should be an integral part of every business Word template:

  • A relevant background design which obviously should show the company logo but perhaps also some other business information. This background should be embedded in the Header/Footer layer of the template so that it cannot be accidentally distorted.
  • A functional page setup which defines the margins for your document pages. Ideally, the page should look light and content must be easy to read. It is also beneficial to allow for certain automatic behaviour (for example a different header design on page one compared to all following pages).
  • The ‘Color Theme’ within the file should automatically default to the business brand colours and all design elements and styles in the template should be based on this custom Color Theme.
  • The ‘Font Theme’ within the file should automatically default to the prescribed font and all text styles should be based on this Font Theme. Ideally, Microsoft Word templates should be based on a ‘system font’. There is a large choice – much more than only Arial.
  • All text styles body text, headings, bullets etc. should be pre-defined and these text styles should be easily available to users. Ideally, the heading styles are used to visually give structure to the textual content – making information easy to navigate.
  • Automatic defaults so that all functions within Word will automatically use the correct colours and styles defined within the template.

Depending on what documents the template is needed for, there could also be pre-defined structural pages. A few examples for such such pages for typical Report templates and Proposal templates is given below:

  • Well designed title cover page (which can feature images and be pre-set with placeholders for title, date and other elements)
  • Automated table of contents defining how many levels of headings are being picked up, perhaps pre-sets for automated ‘Table of Tables’ and/or ‘Table of Figures’.
  • Revision history records are often needed in larger documents, especially if they are created in collaboration with different authors.
  • Sign-off pages may be required
  • Main body section, possibly with dividing pages between chapters
  • An appendix section can often contain attachments that pose challenges such as large tables or scanned documents
  • A graphical back cover page, possibly with some company details or a little marketing statement rounds off a professional looking document

What sort of documents do you need custom templates for?

Custom business templates in Word are predominantly required for client facing documents such as:

Take a look at our specialised sections on those template types on the links above.

How are custom business templates used?

We generally differentiate between ‘manual‘ Word templates which are used with normal, native Word functions and ‘automated‘ Word templates that are enhanced by custom ribbons and programmed tools which can help users format, edit and even change certain aspects of their Word documents.

Automated custom Word templates

These are professional business template which contain automation that Word alone cannot deliver. Such custom Word templates contain macros and other programming:

  • Custom xml coding to create a ribbon tab with buttons that are not usually available with normal Word and that can do nifty things in your documents. 
  • Buttons for automatic editing features for all sorts of things that would usually be very hard to achieve for average users. In our experience, they can include things such as:
  • Buttons and dropdown menus with choices for the template setup itself such as:
    • Selecting from a choice of brand logos (where applicable)
    • Selecting from a choice of colour themes or styling the document in one main colour (automatically)
    • Selecting from a choice of disclaimer
    • Even selecting the editing language or paper size

Take a look at our category ‘Automated Word Templates‘ for further reading about templates with custom toolbars and wizards. 

Manual custom Word templates

A good business template, offering all those features that native Word can embed in a template will mainly work through text styles. Text styles are an easy way to create consistency within documents and provide some simple automation:

  • All headings in the right font colour and size and with the correct spacing already defined. Heading styles can also have features such as automated numbering or even automatic structural numbering. Good heading styles will be set up so that they are automatically followed by the right normal text styles when you press ‘enter’.
  • At least three levels of bullet styles, again these can also be numbered. The bullets should nicely align with your normal text and perhaps even add some colour to the document.
  • Obviously, the body text style. Ideally, this is a font size of not smaller than 10p and has a bit space between the lines which makes it easier to read. It is also recommended to take a closer look at the typical document content when defining the look of the body text style so that the font choice is appropriate to the density of the text.
  • Highlight text styles such as ‘key messages’ or ‘quotes’ etc. These styles can really lift a page and make it look much more editorial. Sometimes just having such styles available can make you even think about your content more carefully as it will allow you to make important content ‘jump out’ on the page.
  • A designed table style so that even complex data can be displayed in a format that is clear, on brand and easy to read. Users can apply these with one click and there are even features such as banded rows that can be switched on and off.

Normal Word can do quite a few things automatically and we always ensure that as many of those automatic features as possible are included with our custom Word templates. There can be automated contents pages, headers that automatically show your document title or even automatically numbered captions for figures and tables which are great to create cross-references to certain figures within the content of your reports.

Speak to us if you would like some recommendations on what could make your editing processes easier.