When we first started out working with computers, and using them for work and business, we were generally taught that less is more, and getting fancy with your documents was undesirable at best! As a general rule, this makes sense for documents that are intended to be printed, adding fancy backgrounds, coloured pages, borders and pictures can make the page harder to read and also more tricky to print, especially if users are  printing at home.

That being said, as technology moves forward, people don’t print as much as they did, the introduction of e-readers, smartphones and tablets means that much more content is read solely on screen and this can give us more scope to ‘pretty up’ our documents without worrying if it will cause problems when printed on a home computer.

One thing we can do is add a background to our documents to keep them consistent with you branding, or simply to brighten up the page. Here we will look at using Microsoft Word to create a letterhead or branded page that matches your service by adding a predesigned background. Here’s how:

First of all, you need to design the background you will use, which should ideally be designed to the exact size of your page. This will prevent any distortion or stretching of your design once added to your file. The design should be saved in .jpg or .png format.

When you’re ready to add your design, open up a new document, then from the main menu select ‘Design‘ tab.

Under ‘Page Background‘ group select ‘Page Colour‘ > ‘Fill Effects‘.

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You will then see a new box with options for your fill effects, choose the tab labelled ‘Picture‘ and here you will see that you have an option to browse to a picture, click ‘select picture

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You’ll then be offered a number of options as to where you can find your picture design, you could choose to add an image from the clipart gallery, or browse to a file on your computer. If you have already designed your image and have it saved on your computer then select the option ‘from a  file‘ and click ‘browse‘ – you can then browse to your image file, select it and click ‘insert

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Next, you will be  able to view a preview of the image you have uploaded, and depending upon the size and shape of the file, you can select the option to ‘lock picture aspect ratio’ which will prevent your image from becoming stretched and distorted.

If you are happy, click ‘ok‘ and you’ll see your background magically appear!

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This technique is great for easily adding letterhead designs or branding to company documents, and I much prefer it to creating a letterhead in Word. Not only is is easier to add the design, but it’s also easier to use the template, as there’s no need to worry about settings margins or header sizes etc., and a greatly reduced chance of users accidentally moving or deleting elements of your design. Of cours with this method, it does require a small amount of skill in creating your design, or the presence of a graphic designer!

Extra tip! If you change your mind and want to remove the background it’s dead easy to do. Simply go to ‘Design‘ > ‘Page Background‘ > ‘Page Colour’ > and select ‘No Colour‘ from the options underneath the colour palette.

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