Microsoft Publisher: How to Customize Templates

customize Publisher templates
Select a design set with a layout that pleases your eye, knowing that you can replace the graphic elements.
(Click for larger image)

Microsoft Publisher is so popular and so good at what it does that this popularity can backfire on you. If you use the software’s template designs as they are, then you’re likely to encounter other businesses doing exactly the same thing, which makes it difficult to stand out from the crowd.

The better solution is to customize the template you want so that it better reflects your business. You can do this easily with photos, custom colors and effects. In this article I’ll show you a few tips and tricks to give your business documents a sharp unique look. Let’s get started.

Choose File > New. From the Publications For Print dropdown list, select the Design Sets collection in the New Publication taskbar and choose Master Sets.

Click on each set in turn to see how the various elements look on the page. Look at those documents you’re likely to want to create, such as business cards, letterhead, envelopes and a brochure. Ignore the colors but consider the arrangement of elements on the page.

Some designs lend themselves to customization more than others, and these include PhotoScope, Modular, Layers, Floating Oval, Crossed Lines, Capsules, Brocade, Bounce, Blocks and Bars. Select the design you like, and click on the document you want to create, such as the business card. When the business card design appears you’re ready to customize it.

customize Publisher templates
You can recolor any image to match your color scheme using the recolor options.
(Click for larger image)

Add Your Own Logo

If you have a business logo, you should add it to the business card in place of the Publisher default. To do this, select the logo and click the Wizard icon that appears. Click Logo Options and select Inserted Picture to add your own logo to the project. Size and position it to suit. Simply replacing the default logo with your own will give you a start on customizing the design.

Changing Colors

Change the color scheme of the entire design by selecting the Color Schemes task pane and selecting an alternate scheme. You can also recolor individual items. Click a shape, right-click it and choose Format > AutoShape. Select the Colors and Lines tab and click the Fill Color dropdown list to choose a color from the color scheme or a color of your choice. If you choose Fill Effects you can fill the shape with a Gradient, Texture, Pattern, Picture or Tint of the base color.

You can select an alternate set of fonts by selecting the Font Scheme task pane and choose a mix of fonts that suits your business style or create your own combination. You’ll get the best result using a simple font scheme that uses same font for both headlines and body text ‑‑ but with a different style so that, for example, one is bold while other one is not.

customize Publisher templates
This design takes the straight edge business card and replaces the colored bar with a photo and a gradient overlay.
(Click for larger image)

Customizing with Images

If you don’t have a logo, you can still add visual interest to your business documents using photos that you have taken yourself or bought from a royalty free stock site. Sometimes something as simple as a photo of your business premises will work just fine.

To use an image on a business card, select the shape you want and right-click. Now choose Format > AutoShape > Colors and Lines tab and select the Fill Color dropdown list. Click the Picture tab, click the Select Picture button and locate and insert the image from your disk. Enable the Lock Picture Aspect Ratio checkbox so that the image does not distort when you place it in the shape. Click OK twice.

If the shape you placed the image into is not large enough for your taste, you can resize it by dragging on it, and the image will continue to expand to fill it. You can also right-click it and choose Order and select a different order. This lets you resize the image and layer it behind other objects on the card. You can also select Format AutoShape and adjust the transparency of the shape so that it is partially transparent behind the elements on the business card.

If the textboxes have white or colored fills, you can make them transparent by right-clicking the textbox, select Format Auto Shape or Format Textbox (depending on what you have selected) and from the Colors and Lines tab, set the Fill Color to No Fill and click OK.

You can also place an image on the background of the business card by clicking the Picture Frame tool on the toolbar and adding an image. When the image is in place, you can size it and crop it to suit – you’ll find that you get more control over the image this way than adding it to a shape. Right-click the image and choose Order > Send to Back to send it behind everything else on the business card. You can bring other items can forward by right-clicking them and choosing Order > Bring to Front.

customize Publisher templates
To create a gradient overlay, set up a partially transparent, one-color vertical gradient as shown.
(Click for larger image)

You can also recolor an image and make it monochromatic. Right-click it, choose Format Picture > Picture tab, select Recolor and then choose a color from the dropdown palette — the best choice is a color from your color scheme — click Apply and then click OK twice.

If an image is so dark that you can’t see the text, add a partially transparent white filled rectangle over it. For a sophisticated look, fill the rectangle with a single-color white gradient. Select the Vertical option and the second style, which is darker on the left than on the right. Set the transparency to range from zero percent to 75 percent, and the image will fade neatly into the background.

When you’re done, save the template by choosing File > Save As and, from the Save as Type dropdown list choose Publisher Template (*.pub). It will then be available in the Templates collection next time you launch Publisher.

Next time you’re creating documents in Publisher consider putting some of these techniques to work on the basic Publisher templates so you get the benefit of the template designs but make them your own with your custom look.

Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. You can learn more about her at her Web site,

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