A business letterhead is a pre-printed heading on documents like letters, memos, and notes. Including one will make any document look professional and help keep your branding consistent.
Creating your own custom letterhead is easy, especially if you start with a business letterhead template.
Keep reading for helpful tips for how you can design your own business letterhead.
Letterhead examples (click to jump ahead):
Unsure about designing a letterhead? Take a cue for your letterhead format from your brand guidelines. Add your brand logo, colors and fonts to an existing letter template to make it your own.
If you feel like a flashy letterhead design is too much for you, there’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple. In that case, simply include your logo and contact information, like in our free company letterhead:
This simple but professional letterhead design takes it up a notch with more accent text and a footer:
When in doubt, start with simple company letter templates that are easier to customize. The aim is to make sure that anyone receiving your letter can clearly recognize your brand from other business letterheads in your industry.
2. Use directional cues in your company letterhead to guide readers
Directional cues are visual indicators like arrows, lines, and images of fingers pointing. They indicate the direction a reader is meant to look.
While directional cues aren’t necessary in a business letterhead, they can help your information flow. A simple way to add a visual cue to your letterhead is to use an arrow shape in the header that points to the beginning of your text.
Directional icons and images can feel like a decorative element on a professional letterhead. But you can’t discount the effectiveness in drawing the eye down the page so your letter gets read.
3. Add a creative footer instead of a header in your official letterhead
Another way to mix up your business letterhead template is to use a colorful, creative footer, instead of a header.
You can create balance in your design by using the same color as your footer for your business/organization name, your name, and any other information in the header.
Take a look at how a creative footer is used in these sample business letterhead examples. The first one uses a bold red line to draw attention to the contact information:
This sample letterhead example uses a playful wavy green footer and icons to organize the company’s contact information:
A number of the free letterhead examples in this post will include creative footers. This is the area in your letter where you can include contact details, such as your company’s phone number, email and website.
These details are very important for any partners, stakeholders or clients who want to get in touch with you. When you choose letterhead templates for your business, or even a personal letterhead template, add a footer so people can contact you.
4. Use a photo or illustration to frame your letter
Instead of using a standard header or footer, you could use an image to frame your letters. This is a great way to add some personality to your business communications.
Typically, you will want to use an image that has a transparent background. That way, your image will blend well into the rest of your design.
For example, this free business letterhead template for a design firm uses a flower image in opposite corners for a creative, balanced design:
An image can capture the imagination far better than text. Which is why some brands pick a company letterhead template with an image.
In the Venngage editor, you can easily swap out photos from the letterhead template. Double-click the image and a menu will pop up showing the 4 million stock photos in the Venngage library.
Choose an image that is suitable for your professional letterhead, or upload your image own.
5. Pick two or three contrasting colors for your letterhead design
A custom letterhead is an opportunity to add a bit of color to your business communications. You can add color to the border, header, and even key parts of the body text.
Don’t be afraid to use bold colors. Bold colors and backgrounds are one of this year’s biggest graphic design trends.
For example, this sample business letterhead template uses yellow and two shades of blue to create a vibrant color scheme:
This official letterhead template draws upon the blue and green in its logo to add a graphical detail to the bottom of the page. It gives the document a modern edge to an otherwise conservative template and complements the company’s logo.
One way to approach color selection is to pick two complementary colors (colors opposite each other on the color wheel). Our brand colors guide has more tips for choosing the right colors for your company’s branding.
You don’t need a graphic designer to decide which colors people will associate with your brand. When you’re choosing colors to customize business letterhead templates, take the cue from your branding.
Add colors from your brand palette for your official letterhead and even for internal memos. This will ensure brand recognition from external and internal parties.
6. Position your logo near the top of your letterhead
The purpose of a letterhead is for your branding to be recognizable across all of your business correspondence. That’s why people typically put their own logo at the top of their letter.
A simple way to incorporate your logo seamlessly into your design is to use color accents that match your brand logo. This company letterhead example uses the orange in its brand elements for the accent text:
For example, the purple and white logo in this sample business letterhead template is complemented by the purple address section and accent text that showcases their brand fonts. This is a great way to highlight your company details.
In this next example, a business letterhead template is used to communicate a job offer. The logo takes center stage on the front page, immediately informing the successful candidate that they have been hired.
For consistent branding, the logo is repeated at the bottom of the second page—albeit smaller and less prominently displayed, since the reader already knows which company has contacted them.
Note how the brand logo isn’t repeated in the header and footer on both pages of the letterhead template. Instead, the first page of the official letterhead has a larger version on the front page and a blank footer.
On the second page, no header is included, and the logo appears in the footer of the official letterhead template. You can also include necessary company details in the footer on the second page, such as contact information.
7. Use a solid background color for your letters
If you want to make your branded letters recognizable at a glance, try making some slightly riskier design choices. One way to do that is to use a solid color background for your letters, instead of the standard white background.
Once again, remember to use light text for dark backgrounds, and dark text for light backgrounds. Also note that adding a background color will impact the printing technique.
Take a look at how striking the navy blue background and gold text is in this letter template:
You don’t need design skills to choose business letterhead templates with a bold background. But again, you need to keep your own branding in mind as well as the impact on printing the letterhead designs.
The reason why the above official letterhead works is because the branding is gold in color. It would have got lost on a white background. If your branding is dark, a light contrasting background color, other than white, could be a good choice for your letterhead format.
8. Give your business letters a colorful border
Don’t underestimate the power of a simple border. A border can tie your design together with a neat bow, which is something to keep in mind when choosing from the business letterhead templates available to you.
For a more subtle border, use a shade like grey or charcoal. But if you want your communications to be particularly striking, you could opt for a bold color.
For example, this business letterhead template takes the bold route with a hot pink border:
A border can make a personal letterhead stand out, especially for a solopreneur. But design elements like borders work for official letterhead designs, as well. It’s a great way to catch the eye since the edges of a letter are likely the first part that anyone sees.
9. Create a striking header design using geometric shapes
In preschool, we were given an activity in art class where we had to create an abstract design by drawing geometric shapes and then filling them in with different colors.
My teacher was on to something. Simple geometric designs are eye-catching. They also make for a creative business letterhead.
You can create your own geometric pattern design by drawing lines and filling in the sections with different colors in Microsoft Word. It’s easier if you use business letterhead templates, though, since they already include the shapes you want to include.
For a slightly more advanced design, you could even add some graphic design texture to your shapes, like in this business letterhead example:
This free letterhead example uses more subtle geometric shapes in its header:
Here are some design tips about using geometric shapes: don’t add too much text on the shapes. This is not the place to include your postal address. The geometric shapes are for aesthetic purposes but they can overwhelm any text you place on them, which is why the above letterhead templates above don’t have much text on the designs.
Additionally, when the shapes do include text on the image, such as in the second letterhead template, the background is faded so the text is legible.
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10. Create a slanted or asymmetrical header for your company letterhead
To give your communications a fresh look and make a good impression on recipients, use an asymmetrical business letterhead. You can do this by simply drawing the header line on your official letterhead on a slant.
The result is a visually interesting design with movement. Movement is a basic principle of engaging design. When your design has movement, people are more inclined to look at it.
Take a look at how this business letterhead template uses a slanted header that crosses behind the logo:
The perfect letterhead for your business should be striking and easy to print. When you use asymmetry to your advantage, you also create more white space in the letterhead template. This improves the reading experience and makes your business or personal letterhead look more professionally designed.
11. Use a dark colored background for a striking design
If you want to defy your readers’ expectations, try inverting the standard color scheme for letters by giving your text a dark background.
As a rule of thumb, only use light text on dark backgrounds. Otherwise…no one will be able to read it! A letterhead template will already include the right color contrast but if you make changes, keep the following visual in mind.
Take a look at how striking this business letterhead template is, with its white header and dark grey background. This combination also makes the contact details of the company stand out.
Check out our other quick hacks to customize your template and make your official letterhead pop.
12. Create a custom-shaped border
You don’t have to stick with a standard rectangle border. A custom-shaped border can add an engaging quirk to your business letters and complement your official letterhead.
Try out variations like rounded corners, dashes instead of solid lines, or a framing image.
For example, the custom border in this business letterhead template gives the impression of the page being turned:
You can also add a rounded border to your personal letterhead template to make your content stand out. Alternately, an official letterhead could use dashes to give the correspondence a semblance of uniqueness.
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13. Add quirky illustrations to your letterhead design using icons
Icons are a great way to add some creative flair to your company letterhead. Depending on your audience and the purpose of your letter, you can change the icons to fit the occasion.
Remember to use consistently styled icons in the official letterhead. Decide what style of icons fit your brand guidelines, and use those whenever you’re decorating a letter.
For example, this business letterhead template uses line art icons to for a friendly conference follow-up letter:
Icons have universal appeal and can easily be understood by everyone. That’s what makes them such a unique design tool to implement in a corporate letterhead.
Remember to be consistent with icon styles but also avoid overusing them. The above letterhead template uses icons sparsely, so the content is still legible.
14. Use a color gradient in your header or spine column
Color gradients are making a comeback. If you want your business communications to be up to date with design trends, you might want to incorporate them into your letterhead design.
That doesn’t mean you have to go for a super gaudy gradient. A more subtle gradient of shades of the same color can be quirky but make for a professional letterhead.
For example, this business letterhead template uses a subtle pink color gradient in the spine column. Icons also help to illustrate the content of the template:
Remember that you might have to print your corporate letterhead, so the colors you choose could affect the pricing of the final product.
15. Divide your business letterhead template into columns
If you aren’t sure how to approach your design, a good place to start is to divide your page into columns. Then, you can figure out where to put your header or spine column, proportionate to the rest of your page.
Take a look at how this business letterhead template divides the spine column from the body of the letter using a thin line:
When you choose a corporate letterhead template, the columns will already have been created. Pick a template that has the column structure you want and then customize it from there.
16. Use your header and footer designs to create a visual hierarchy
Visual hierarchy is a fundamental principle in design. To put it simply, visual hierarchy is the arrangement of elements in a design to indicate importance.
Visual hierarchy indicates which information on the page is most important, or which information should be read first.
Your header and footer can contribute to the visual hierarchy on your page. For example, you could make a heavier weighted header and a lighter footer. You can make this distinction with a change in font size and icon sizes.
Take a look at how the footer in this business letterhead template mirrors the header, without taking away from the emphasis of the header.
Now you have the tools to create your own custom letterhead. Remember, it’s easy if you start with a template and you can save time!
Follow these steps to use a business letterhead template:
- Pick a business letterhead template that fits your goals.
- Add, remove or rearrange elements in the template using the drag and drop canvas.
- Insert your logo, name, and address in the template.
- Customize the colors, fonts, and icons to fit your brand.
- Save your custom business letterhead template and use it over and over again.
What is a business letterhead?
A business letterhead is a header at the top of a company letter. The letterhead usually includes a business’s logo, name, address, and contact information such as phone or fax number, email address, and company website URL.
What is the purpose of a letterhead?
The purpose of letterhead is to:
- Reach out to prospective clients
- Brand your corporate contract templates
- Submit or print a cover letter for a new job
- Write invoices
- Prepare legal documents for a law firm
- Record meeting minutes
- Send personal correspondence
How do I make my own letterhead?
Here’s how you make your own letterhead:
- Open a new document or pick a template
- Insert your logo in the top left corner of the document
- Add a text box in the top right of the document, aligned horizontally with the logo
- Enter your company name, address and any contact information such as phone or fax number and email address in the text box. The text should be right justified.
- Apply your brand fonts or colors to the text
- Save the document and create a copy of it whenever you want to write a new letter
- You can also use letterhead templates from Venngage to make your job easier
What information should be on a business letterhead?
The following info usually goes on a letterhead:
- Company logo
- Legal business name
- Registered physical address
- Contact information: phone number, fax number, email address
- Company website URL
- Company registration number, if applicable
- Email address
- VAT number (legal requirement for invoices)