How to Convert Adobe Illustrator Letterhead Design to Word Template

To convert Adobe Illustrator letterhead design into a Word Template, the best approach appears to use the WMF file format, which retains vector based information. Another method is to convert the artwork to PNG format, however that rasterizes the artwork and does not print as crisply as vector based format.

Color and bleeds are items to consider in your design.  Word will convert the art colors to RGB.  While bleeds can be set up, most personal printers don’t print them.  The software versions used in  this “How To” are Adobe Illustrator CC (this can probably be done in a legacy version) and Microsoft Word 15.32 for Mac.


  1. Determine what your printer can actually print in terms of margins: measure printer output  margin limitations for left, right, top, bottom of printer (example, my printer cuts off at 20/32” at the bottom).
  2. Determine your Word text block and associated margins for top, bottom, left and right(i.e., left 1”, right 1”, bottom 1”, top 2.5”).  The dimensions of the Word text block will affect your letterhead design;  setting up guides in AI can serve as a reminder of the text block area.


  1. New document, set up 8.5 x 11 artboard.
  2. Add in guides for your printer cutoff margins left, right, top, bottom.
  3. Add guides to mimic your Word text block (document layout margins: left, right, top & bottom).
  4. Design your letterhead.
  5. ART BOXES:  set up “invisible” art boxes for the header and footer.  Reason:  because when you later export the artwork as a WMF file,  then import it into Word, Word automatically determines the artwork’s image area based on the dimensions of the art objects.  In other words, Word will ignore any margins/white space that does not include artwork.
  6. ART BOX – HEADER: create a white (no fill also works) box and place behind the header.  Size the box:  Top = to the top of paper edge; Bottom = to just below the header; LEFT & RIGHT box edges should extend to the LEFT and RIGHT document layout margins. The LEFT/RIGHT header placement in Word will be affected by the LEFT/RIGHT document margin settings (unless you override in Word see note*).
  7. ART BOX – FOOTER: same idea as #6.
  8. Convert the fonts to outlines (select all>type>create outlines>expand)
  9. Save the document as two separate copies (1 is header, 1 is footer).
  10. Open header, remove footer artwork. Save. File>Export as>WMF
  11. Open footer, remove header artwork. Save. File>Export as>WMF


  1. New Document
  2. View>Header and footer
    1. Click inside header area
    2. Insert>pictures>picture from file (find your wmf header)
    3. Picture will appear flipped. Go to : flip picture icon (1/4 arc with arrow over picture), select reset picture & size.  This should make it normal.
    4. Do same for footer
    5. Last – Click inside header, not on picture. Align to top/bottom – top GUI shows “header and footer” in green and a measurement dialogue box to enter amount of space between paper edge and picture. This should be set to 0.  (note: if you set vertical alignment before adding the footer, you won’t be able to add in footer).  Repeat for footer.
    6. Close header and footer.
  3. Document set up: Format>Document – set up Top, Bottom, Left and right margins (in this case, T=2.5”; B=1”, L = 1”, R = 1”)
  4. File – save as template (in Wordtemplates so that it is easy to locate)
  5. To use: file, new from template, find your template.
  6. When you print document, Word may prompt with a warning that sections of header and footer are outside the available printer area:  remember that part of the header/footer artwork includes “invisible” white box, which creates margin space between header and footer.

*(note:  alternate technique using LEFT and RIGHT extension to paper edges will also work, but will require additional modifications in Word)

To Change Header placement in Word, which is affected by document margin settings:

  1. View>Header and Footer – go to Header
  2. Layout tab
  3. View ruler (note – count each 1/8 to determine number of spaces to move on ruler)
  4. Move triangle slider to position you would like image to be at
  5. Physically move the header piece