Letterheads are a necessity for any business. So you want to make it as good as possible, right? Well, there are some things that will instantly turn off your prospects and customers. Here’s what not to do:
1. Don’t use plain white paper.
We know it’s cheap and easy, but this is one of those times when you get what you pay for. Your letterhead screams “I don’t care about my company!” And nobody likes a whiner.
Use cream or ecru instead; it looks more professional and expensive than white paper; plus the color matches most other stationery colors well enough that you can print all your correspondence on the same stock (and save yourself some money in the process).
2. Don’t use a standard font.
Unless you work for the government, there’s no reason to use Times New Roman or Arial on your letterhead. They’re both overused and bland. Try something more interesting, like Gill Sans or Copperplate Gothic.
3. Don’t use too many fonts.
You may think that big chunks of text look boring, but most people are reading on screen now instead of in print, so they don’t care about font size as much as you might think. Make your letterhead legible by limiting yourself to two fonts-one for the body copy, and one for headlines.
4. Don’t use your logo on the letterhead.
We get it, you paid good money for that logo design, so rather than waste it by sticking it in an envelope or email signature, you want to put it out there where everyone can see how great it looks.
But when we open the envelope to find a letterhead with your logo plastered down the side, it doesn’t make you look like an expert, it makes you look like a rookie. Instead of using your logo on the letterhead, use your company name. It’s better branding to have “XYZ Company” rather than just the logo.
5. Don’t use clip art.
Unless you work for a children’s book company, there’s no reason to use clip art on your letterhead. It looks juvenile and unprofessional.
6. Don’t use excessive graphics or images.
Just like with fonts, less is more. A simple background or graphic that sets your letterhead apart from all the rest is fine, but too many competing messages will just confuse people.
7. Don’t use cut-off portions of images.
It looks unprofessional to have part of an image chopped off at the edge of the paper, so even if it’s a really cool image, don’t do it.
8. Don’t use borders.
Borders are outdated and look cheap. If you want to add some visual interest, try using a simple graphic or background pattern instead.
9. Don’t make the paper too heavy or too light.
Standard weight paper is usually best, but if you’re going to use a different weight, make sure it still looks professional. Heavier paper can be good for embossing or letterpress printing, while lighter paper is better for recycled or eco-friendly versions.
10. Don’t use too much ink.
Just like with fonts and graphics, less is more. You don’t want your letterhead to look like it was printed in a different century. Stick to black ink on white or cream paper for a classic look.
11. Don’t use shading or color.
Unless you’re trying to create a specific effect, like antique letterhead or a children’s book, use black and white letterhead.
12. Don’t put the company URL on the letterhead.
If you want people to visit your website, give them a reason to go there (like an interesting offer), don’t assume they’ll magically know to type in your web address. Instead, give them your address, phone number, or email address.
13. Don’t use letterhead for anything other than letters.
Just because it’s letterhead doesn’t mean you should write a novel on it. Save the oversized envelopes and other large pieces of paper for postcards or flyers instead of wasting your letterhead on them.
14. Don’t forget to include contact information.
Even if you have a website or email address, it’s still a good idea to include your mailing address and phone number on your letterhead. That way, people can always get in touch with you the old-fashioned way, if they need to.
15. Don’t forget to print your letterhead on both sides of the paper.
If you’re going to use a lot of text or graphics, it’s better to print them on both sides of the paper so that they won’t be cut off when the page is folded in half.
One bonus tip is to use Venngage — an online infographic maker that provides different online letterhead designs for everyone. To give you an idea, here are some professional letterhead examples from their website!