Using Microsoft Word for Design and Desktop Publishing

Enable text boxes to use word for page layout

above the head of person at desk working on desktop publishing.

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Although Microsoft Word is found in most offices, it isn't usually used like Microsoft Publisher. However, it can be used to create some simple publications.

Because Word is designed primarily for text-focused documents, it can be used for office forms that consist primarily of text, such as fax sheets, simple flyers, and employee manuals or simple graphic designs such as letterhead, fax sheets, and forms.

To go beyond the basic 8.5 by 11-inch plain-text format, it is necessary to set up Word so you can work with text boxes.

These instructions apply to Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2013, Word 2010, and Word for Office 365.

Preparing a Word Document for Text Boxes

  1. Open a new document and select the paper size to the size plan to print your newsletter on. This may be letter-size, legal-size, or 17 x 11 inches if your printer can print that large a sheet of paper.

    Screenshot of paper size in Word
  2. Select the View tab and choose the Gridlines check box in the Show group. Adjust the margins if needed.

    The grid is nonprinting and for positioning only.

    Screenshot of Show Gridlines in Word
  3. Also on the View tab, select the checkbox next to Ruler in the Show group to display rulers along the top and size of the document if it is not already selected.

  4. Select Print Layout view from the Views group of the View tab.

Making a Text Box

  1. Go to the Insert tab and select Text Box in the Text group.

    Screenshot of Insert Text Box in Word
  2. Select Draw Text Box, which turns the pointer into a crosshair. Drag with the pointer to draw the text box on the document.

    Screenshot of Draw Text Box
  3. Delete the border from the text box if you don't want it to print. Select the border and choose the Shape Format or Drawing Tools Format tab. Select Shape Outline > No Outline.

    Screenshot of Shape Outline on Shape Format tab
  4. Add a background tint to the text box if you want one. Select the border of the text box, Select the Shape Format or Drawing Tools Format tab. Select a color in the Shape Fill drop-down list.

    Screenshot of Shape Fill drop-down
  5. Repeat the process for as many text boxes as you need on the page. If the text boxes are the same size, just copy and paste for additional boxes.

  6. Select the text box and enter the information that prints there. 

  7. Format the text just as you would any Word text. Select the font, color, size and any attributes.

  8. Click outside the text boxes to place an image as you normally would. Change the picture's text wrap setting to Square, then resize and reposition it.

Tips for Embellishing a Word Document

  • GRADIENTS — To add a gradient to a text box (rather than a solid tint), select the outside border of the box and then select Drawing Tools Format tab > Shape Fill. Choose a color, select Shape Fill again and select Gradient. Choose a light direction in the Light Variations section.
  • DROP SHADOWS — Go to Home > Text Effects and Typography > Shadow > Shadow Options and select the options that give you the drop shadow effect you want.
  • LINKED TEXT BOXES — Link text boxes so text flows from one to another when you resize them. Select the first text box and go to the Drawing Tools Format tab. Select the Create Link button and then click the second text box. 

Disadvantages of Word for Desktop Publishing

  • Microsoft Word is not the place to create logos or other graphics. The compatibility with other programs isn't good, and the print quality is poor compared to using software designed for this purpose.
  • Using Microsoft Word to format a document takes longer than using a page layout program because you are working around the limitations of the word processing software.