Creating PDF for Digital Letterheads

Law firms often have corporate letterhead designed to reflect the professionalism of the firm.

It’s only natural, then, that firms want to create digital letterhead that retains the firms branding when creating PDF files.

I recently received an email from a law firm that complained about “fuzzy text” when they attempted to create their PDF letterhead. After a bit of digging, I determined that the firm had scanned their existing letterhead, placed it as an image in Word, then PDFd the file. The result, was poor quality, fuzzy text.

Bitmaps vs Vectors

In order to create good digital letterhead, you need to use the right kind of graphic format.

A bitmap image is composed of pixels, the small individual dots that make up an image. Bitmaps are resolution dependent meaning that their appearance varies depending on the type and resolution of the device on which they are displayed. Typical bitmap file formats are TIFF, JPEG, PNG, BMP and GIF. Because bitmap images do not scale well, they make a poor choice for your digital letterhead.

A vector image is mathematically defined and scales correctly to the device on which it is displayed such as a monitor or printer. Typical vector formats are EPS, WMF, and EMF. Vector graphics are a good choice for your digital letterhead.

Creating your Digital Letterhead Graphic

The best way to create your digital letterhead graphic is in a vector illustration program such as Adobe Illustrator.

However, since most legal professionals don’t have a copy of Illustrator laying around, I’ll show you how to create the letterhead graphic in PowerPoint.

The instructions below are for Office 2007 and 2010, but earlier versions will work just fine.

  1. Launch PowerPoint. A new, blank slide show should appear. If not, choose New and create one.
  2. You’ll insert a Text Box to type into:
    A) Click the Insert tab
    B) Click the Text Box tool
  3. Click and drag to draw a text box in a blank area of the slide.
  4. Type in your text and format it as you like. You can add borders, fills, and other text boxes if necessary.
Getting the right Look for the Text Box Here are some links from the Microsoft website with some tutorials on using Text Boxes in PowerPoint:Change or remove a border from a text box or shape Add or delete a shape fill or shape effect
  1. Select the text box(es) on the slide (you might want to group them first), then right-click and choose Save As Picture
  2. From the Save As Type menu, choose Windows Metafile and save the file to a location of your choice.
    You might also want to save the PowerPoint file in case you want to make changes at a later time.

Using your Letterhead Graphic in Microsoft Word

It’s simple to use the WMF file you created above in Word.

You can use it in the body of the document or in the header or footer area.

To insert the image in Word:

  1. Open or create a new document in Word
  2. Click the Insert tab then click Picture (example here is inserting the picture in the header)
  3. Locate the letterhead graphic and insert it.

You’ll notice that the graphic looks nice on screen in Word.

Converting your Letterhead to PDF

Once your graphic is inserted, you can create a PDF by printing to the Adobe PDF Print Driver or by using the Adobe PDF Maker in Word.

The result looks great on-screen in Adobe Reader or Acrobat and also prints beautifully:

The Digital Letterhead as it looks in Acrobat.