How to Design a Letterhead

by Jackie Lohrey; Updated September 26, 2017
vintage wood type alphabet

Well-designed letterhead speaks volumes about your company without uttering a single word. You already know the image and message your business wants to convey, so bypass a graphic designer and save money by designing your own letterhead. A high-resolution logo file, which according to Microsoft Office should be 300 dots-per-inch, and business contact information is all you need to start.

Layout and Alignment

Letterhead should support, not compete with written content. A simple visual design and hierarchical layout will highlight company information without distracting the reader’s attention. In a hierarchical layout, the logo and company name come first, followed by a return address, telephone number and email address. Center-align the letterhead design for a symmetrical, formal appearance, or offset the design to the left or right for a more informal letterhead.

Font, Font Size and Color

Match the font to your company’s style and the color to your logo. According to Pamela Wilson, a graphic designer and marketing consultant, serif fonts such as Times New Roman and Georgia are appropriate for traditional or formal letterhead, while sans serif fonts such as Arial and Verdana make letterhead look cutting-edge and modern. Choose no more than two fonts in the same font family -- serif or sans serif -- and vary their appearance with regular, italic, semi-bold or bold weights. The American Management Association recommends using no larger than a 14-point type, and no smaller than a 10-point type. For example, use 14-point for the company name, 12-point for the return address and telephone number, and 11-point for the email address.

About the Author

Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.

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