It’s an inescapable truth: Word isn’t perfect when it comes to templates.
In fact, sometimes it’s downright unruly, uncooperative, obstinate, disobedient, stubborn, and quite frankly unmanageable. Like many of our customers, we’ve had the delightful experience of running into a Word template that simply won’t work; nothing sits where it’s supposed to, things jump around the page, and all in all it simply looks awful.
So, why haven’t we thrown our hands up in despair and done away with Word templates altogether?
- Microsoft Office is simply something that nearly everyone has access to and is familiar with.
- While it might not provide the precision and sheer variety of tools offered by graphics software, Word is perfectly capable of turning out simple and effective templates.
So, how do we tackle the trouble of Word templates?
As usual, the Devil is in the details. Or, more precisely, in the “Format Tools” options.
While Word is first and foremost a Word Processor, it does have a limited number of tools for working with graphics; every single kind of object you can add to a Word document has a variety of formatting options for you to choose from. It is the formatting tools that give you the greatest amount of control and precision when designing a template – you just need to know where to find them.
So, what are they and where do you find them?
Word is designed to keep things neat and simple, and one way it achieves this is the use of the “ribbon” at the top of the page. All of the actions/options you can use have been grouped together into sets of related actions/options. These sets are then grouped again into related sections, which are then displayed under one (or more) of the tabs contained in the ribbon.
To keep things simple, the ribbon will only display one tab at a time, so you need to select the tab that is relevant to the action you want to take or the settings that you want to change and then find the specific action/option you want from one of the sets displayed under that particular tab.
For example, to take any action or choose any option related to adding an object to your Word template, you will need to use the “INSERT” tab. This tab contains 10 sections: Pages, Tables, Illustrations, Apps, Media, Links, Comments, Header & Footer, Text, and Symbols. Each of these sections contains specific actions/options related to that section. For example, the “Pages” section contains three actions/options; Inserting A Cover Page, Inserting A Blank Page, and Inserting a Page Break.
At this point, you might have noticed that none of the tabs you can see in the ribbon appear to relate specifically to the objects you might wish to include in a template. Helpfully, Word has also grouped the Tabs that appear in the ribbon so that you have “Main Tabs”, which are always visible, and “Tool Tabs”, which only become visible when you select the item that the actions within that tab relate to.
Currently, Word provides Tool Tabs for: SmartArt, Chart, Drawing, Picture, Table, Header & Footer, Equation, and Ink. [Previous versions also included specific Tool Tabs for: Text Box, WordArt, Diagram, and Organisation Chart.]
So, to alter the formatting applied to your Word template, and any objects that you add to it, you need to select an object to make the related Tools Tab appear, find the section of that tab that relates to the action/option you want to choose, and then select the tool to perform that action or change an option.
Here’s a list of the KEY TOOLS that you will want to find and use to get the very best out of your Word template:
DRAWING TOOLS TAB:
- You’ll need this tab if you insert either a Shape, WordArt, or a Text Box.
- Sections include Insert Shape, Shape Styles, WordArt Styles, Text, Arrange, and Size.
- If you’re having problems with the positioning of your objects, then the “Arrange” section will give you some more control over this. Specifically, check the “Position”, “Wrap Text”, and “Align” options and, if you’re layering objects over one another, try using the “Bring Forward”, “Send Backward”, and “Group” options. You can also use the “Size” section to resize your object to a particular measurement.
PICTURE TOOLS TAB:
- You’ll need this tab if you insert an image (or “Picture”).
- Sections include Adjust, Picture Styles, Arrange, and Size.
- Again, the most important section here is likely to be the “Arrange” section, with the “Position”, “Wrap Text”, and “Align” section allowing you to choose options that give you finer, more precise control over where your images sit in the template. You can also use the “Bring Forward”, “Send Backward”, and “Group” options to layer images (and other objects), and use the Size section for more precise resizing of your images.
TABLE TOOLS TAB:
- You can use this tab to apply settings to the entire table.
- Unlike the other Tools Tabs, this option gives you TWO tabs to choose from: Design and Layout.
- The Design tab allows you to change the look of the table itself (meaning you could use it to add borders or a coloured background – but you need to take care that your borders don’t alter the alignment of your labels).
- The Layout tab allows you to alter the number and size of the rows and columns in the table but MOST IMPORTANTLY it allows you to set the text alignment and direction of ALL of the text in ALL of the cells in the table.
All of our templates (including Word and PDF options) are available to download from our Template Page.