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Quick Tip: Designing a Basic Letterhead with InDesign CS5

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Read Time: 3 min

For today's Quick Tip we are going to set up a letterhead within InDesign. However, before we can start, you need to have a logo, some content (you can also use place holder text) and contact details ready. I will be using a logo from GraphicRiver which happens to be the free file for October.

Step 1

Before we launch InDesign I would advise sketching out a few ideas of how you want your letterhead to look.

Step 2

Once you are happy with the sketch, open InDesign and create a new document by going to File > New > Document.

Step 3

You will be presented with the New Document panel. Click on the More Options button to reveal the Bleed and Slug options (this is necessary as my design requires bleed). Below is a screen grab of letterhead setup based on my earlier sketches. Once you have set the your values click OK.

Step 4

Place the logo by going to File > Place, navigate to where the file is kept, select it and click open. Now click once within the document space to place it at its original size or click and drag to create a custom size.

Step 5

Within my design I need a text frame for the contact details and another for the main body content. To create the text frames select the Type Tool and click an drag to the required size.

If you don't have any text to work with, make sure the cursor is active in the text frame and go to Type > Fill with Place holder Text.

Step 6

Now choose your typeface and set the character styles within the Character palette, which can be found by going to Window > Type and Tables > Character.

If the text is looking unbalanced use the Type Tool to highlight the text and go to paragraph palette. If it is not open go to Window > Type and Tables > Paragraph. Open the triangle fly-out menu which is located in the top right hand corner and select Balanced Ragged Lines.

Step 7

While the Paragraph palette is open turn the Hyphenation off and set Space After to 2mm.

Step 8

It is now time to add the supporting graphics. Within my design I need to add a color bar that bleeds of the bottom of the page. Activate the Rectangle Frame Tool, click and drag to create the required size. Remember to extend the frame until hits the bleed guidelines. Finally add the fill color from the Swatches palette by going to Window > Color > Swatches. Select the frame you just created and add the color from Swatch list.

Step 9

Now that the main layout is complete it is time to zoom in and check the alignment is consistent and there are no errors present throughout the text. On my design I have discovered that the address text frame and the logo are not aligned correctly.

To fix this, select both frames with the selection tool and open the Align palette by going to Window > Object and Layout > Align. Hit the Align to Left Edges button.

Step 10

Finally check for errors within the text, for example double spaces and unwanted formatting. A quick way to do this is to turn on Show Hidden Characters. Go to Type > Show Hidden Characters. And zoom into the document to locate any errors.


And here is my finished letterhead...

You should now have a freshly designed letterhead to send out into the creative world or a base template for future client designs. To finish the tut on a fun note here is a link to some letterheads used by famous people: www.letterheady.com

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