Writing and printing letters in Microsoft Word is a fairly simple task that all virtual assistants must know how to do. Yet recently, I was asked a question that I actually didn’t know the answer to. I was asked “what are the measurements for placing the address block in a letter in the correct place so that they show in a window envelope?” Well, I thought, surely it’s just one of those things that you know. I just KNOW where to put it so that it lines up with the window as equally I just KNOW where exactly to fold the letter so that it folds tidily. Perhaps it’s an inbuilt secretarial sixth sense? No, I doubt it, it’s more likely to be the numerous years of trial and error, frustration and wasted paper back when I was an employed secretary!

Now that’s fine for those of us who have these great letter typing/folding skills, but what about those who don’t, your clients for instance? As a result of this conversation, I was then asked if I could create a template letterhead for my client, so that they can make sure they always get their address block in the correct place so I thought I’d share it with you.

It’s important to remember that it’s possible that the window positioning could vary slightly depending upon the manufacturer, but on the whole, these measurements should work for most envelopes. The standard window (a left-hand window) size and position is the same for all commercial window envelopes, regardless of the size of the envelope. It measures 9cm wide and 3.45cm deep. It is positioned 2cm from the left side of the envelope and 1.2cm from the bottom of the envelope.

Create your address container

To begin, open a new Microsoft Word document. Then using either paragraph formatting or a text box or frame we want to position our address. With my template, I chose to use a text box, as I feel that this will eliminate user error with accidentally moving the text box and upsetting the alignment. You could just as easily the address directly onto the document, using paragraph formatting to set the address block alignment.

To insert a new text box click insert > text box > draw text box

then click anywhere in your document and draw a small text box. At this point, the size doesn’t actually matter as we are going to set the dimensions from within the text box properties.

Size & Positioning

Next, right click in your text box and select ‘more layout options’, you’ll then be presented with a further box with options. Firstly, choose the ‘Position’ tab and set the settings as in the image below. As margins may vary in different documents it is important that you set the absolute position relative to the page and not the margin:

  • Horizontal alighment – set the absolute position to 2cm to the right of page
  • Vertical alignment – set the absolute position to 5.5cm below page
  • Make sure that the options to move object with text are unchecked to avoid the text box moving when the letter is edited.

Next, select the tab named ‘size’ and set the size as in the image below:

  • In the first section, set the height to 3.45cm
  • In the next section set the width to 9cm

When you are done, click ‘ok’.

You should now see you text box positioned something like this. You can add in a dummy address at this point so that you can see how to position your text. Your text box should be almost exactly the same measurement and positioning as the window in your envelope. The next step is to position your text inside the text box, allowing perhaps for slight errors in folding the letter or slight variations in window position.

As we did before, right click on your text box, and this time select ‘format shape’

In the resulting window, select ‘text box’ from the menu on the left (near the bottom) and then you will see the options for formatting the internal margins of your text box. You can play with these and set them to your preference, but I found that an internal margin of 0.5 – 1cm was sufficient. I made sure to leave at least 1cm in the left hand margin to make sure that the address won’t be cut off by being too close to the edge of the window on the envelope.

Also, make sure that the check box ‘resize shape to fit text’ stays unchecked to avoid your text box changing shape when you alter the address.

When you are done, click ‘close’ and that’s all there is to it.

One last thing…

One final little touch that I added to my template was two very small marks in the margins of my document positioned at 10.4cm below the top of the page. I simply did this using the line tool to make a tiny line, then right click and position as we did for the text box. I put these into the header of the document so that they couldn’t be accidentally deleted, but they serve as a useful guide for folding your letter and making sure that you get it right first time!