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How to Make Awesome Page Layout Designs in Microsoft Word

This post is part of a series called Learn How to Use Microsoft Word (Beginner Tutorial Guide).
How to Quickly Format Basic Text Styles in Microsoft Word Documents
How to Quickly Add, Move, and Format Pictures in Microsoft Word

When you create a new document in Microsoft Word, it looks decent right off the bat. But sometimes you want to make your page look much better than the default. 

Use Microsoft Word’s page layout design tools to make easy-to-read documents that reflect positively on you and your business—even if you’re new to Word.

Finished Page Layout for Word
Create a page layout design like the one above from scratch. Or, save time with a print template for Word.

You can make page layout designs in Microsoft Word from scratch. Or, skip the grunt work by using Microsoft Word templates. 

Envato Elements and GraphicRiver are both great sources of print templates for Word. Each template is made by professional designers. Elements makes a compelling offer. Download unlimited templates, fonts, photos, and other creative assets for one fixed subscription price.

But, if you only need the occasional template for MS Word and prefer to pay for each single use, then look to GraphicRiver.

Why Learn About Page Layouts In Word?

Page layout settings in Word determine how your document looks when you print it out. It includes the page orientation, margins, and columns, for example.

It’s important to pay attention to the page layout of your document for several reasons:

  • It ensures consistency. This gives your readers a good experience while consuming your document.
  • A good page layout makes your document more readable. When your document is aesthetically pleasing and has a consistent look, your audience is more likely to read, comprehend, and remember your content.
  • A well-designed document reflects well on you. It reinforces your credibility and authority in your field.

Microsoft Word has robust page settings that allow you to control your page layout design. Everything is designed to be as simple and intuitive as possible. Yet, doing page layout in Word can be daunting if you're new to the software.

This article breaks things down for you. So, you can follow along, step-by-step, and take control of how your document looks.

Types of Documents You Can Create in MS Word

You can create all kinds of printed documents in Microsoft Word.

Make business documents like:

MS Word is also very handy for creating marketing documents. Create everything from:

For education or training use Word to prepare:

You can also produce postcards, invitations, newsletters, and signs. If you can print it, then you can whip it up in Word.

In this tutorial, you'll learn how to use Microsoft Word's page layout tools to produce the print materials you need.

How to Work With Templates to Quickly Change Your Design

The quickest way to change or apply a page layout is by using a print template for Word. For the examples below, we’ll be using the SEO Proposal template from Envato Elements. 

SEO Proposal Template for Word from Envato Elements
Templates for Word, like the SEO Proposal template, make many of the page formatting decisions for you.

When looking for a print template for Word, it’s a good idea to choose one that uses paragraph and character styles. The styles feature will allow you to quickly format text even in a long document.

Below are some roundups of Microsoft Word templates you can choose from:

Now that you've chosen a template with a good page layout in Word, it's time to learn how to use it. 

1. Download the Template

Download the template of your choice to your computer’s hard drive. Unzip the file, then copy the template. This way, you've got the original template file intact, if you want to revert to it.

Download and copy Envato Elements template for Word
Make a copy of the Word file so that your original stays intact.

2. Customize the Template With Your Own Content

Replace the text with your own information.

Word Template - Personalize Text
Replace the placeholder text with your own content.

If you want to change the text formatting, change the settings for fonts and paragraphs.

To add your own image, click on an image placeholder. The Format Picture dialog box opens. Under Fill, select Picture or texture fill. Under Picture source, click Insert….

Word Template - Insert Picture
You can easily insert a photo or image into your MS Word layout.

Find and select the image you want to use. Click Insert.

Word Template - Insert Image
Select the image file and click Insert.

Now, the image is inserted.

Word Template - Personalized Image
Notice the difference an image can make in your page layout in Word.

To replace an existing logo on the template, click on the logo, then click on the Picture Format tab.

Word Template - Picture Format
You can also add your own logo to a Word template.

Click the Change Picture button on the ribbon. Find and select the logo file, then click Insert.

Word Template - Replace Logo
Find the image file that contains your logo on your computer.

If necessary, click-and-drag one of the handles of the logo to resize it.

Next, I’d like to change the color of the rectangle on the cover page. To do that, select the shape, then click the Shape Format tab.

MS Word Template - Shape Format
You can also change the colors on Word template layout.

The Shape Format ribbon is displayed. Click on the drop-down arrow beside the Shape Fill button. Select from the color options shown or click More Fill Colors... to specify the color you want to apply.

Word - Shape Fill Color
Use the color palette to choose a new color.

This is what the customized proposal cover looks like now:

MS Word Template - Customized Cover
Notice how the color has been changed for the rectangle at the bottom of the cover page.

Repeat these steps to customize the other pages of the template.

As you can see, when you start with a template for Word most of the design and page formatting decisions are already made for you by the template creator.

But, if you prefer to start your document from scratch, follow the steps below to change the default page format settings.

Type or paste your text into the document. Apply text and paragraph formatting to modify settings for fonts, spacing, alignment, and more. Then, you can move on to the page layout.

3. How to Set the Microsoft Word Page Orientation as Portrait or Landscape

To set the Microsoft Word page orientation of your document, go to File > Page Setup….

MS Word - Page Setup
You can change your page layout in Word from portrait to landscape layout (and vice versa).

The Page Setup dialog opens. Click on the button for either Word portrait or landscape layout orientation.

MS Word - Page Orientation
Use the Microsoft Word Page Setup dialog to choose the Word layout orientation that's right for your document.

4. How to Set the Print Size of the Paper

From the Microsoft Word Page Setup dialog, you can also change the paper size when you print the document. Click on the Paper Size field to show the different paper size choices available.

MS Word - Format Paper Size
When changing the page layout in Word you can also change the paper size.

Select the size you wish to use. You can also click Manage Custom Sizes… to specify your own size.

MS Word - Format Custom Paper Size
You can even specify a custom page layout.

5. How to Split Your Text into Multiple Columns

Sometimes you may want to divide your text into columns. This can make the document more readable and adds variety to an otherwise monotonous layout. Columns are popular in magazines, newsletters, and similar types of materials.

Arrange the Entire Document into Columns 

To change the MS Word layout to columns, follow these steps:

1. Go to Layout > Columns.

MS Word - Format Columns Layout
You can also add columns to your MS Word layout.

The Columns dialog box opens. 

MS Word - Format Columns in Whole Document
Use the Columns dialog box to set the number of columns.

2. Select one of the Presets or manually set the:

  • number of columns
  • width and spacing
  • apply to the whole document or from that point forward

3. When you’re happy with the settings, click OK.

Apply Columns to a Part of the Document

You can also apply columns to only a specific part of the document.

1. Select the text you wish to display in columns.

MS Word - Select Text
Choose the part of the document you want to apply columns to.

2. Go to Layout > Columns.

MS Word - Layout Columns
Select the column option.

3. In the Columns dialog box, choose the settings you want to apply.

Notice that you now have the option to apply the column settings to Selected text. Click OK.

MS Word - Columns in Selected Text
Apply the columns to your selected text.

Now, only the selected text has been broken into two columns. The rest remains in one column.

MS Word - Columns in Selected Text Applied
Here's what our page layout in Word looks like with columns applied to part of the text.

6. How to Add Page and Section Breaks

Sections in Microsoft Word enable you to apply different layouts to different parts of your document. This is useful for making creative layouts, especially to long documents.

Insert a Page Break in Word

A page break separates text, so that anything after the break is moved to a succeeding page. It's useful for dividing up a document into chapters and sections.

To insert a page break, place the cursor at the point where you want the break to be, then go to Insert > Break > Page Break.

Microsoft Word - How to Insert a Page Break
You can even add a page break in Word.

In our sample document, the title page is now on a separate page from the rest of the text.

MS Word - Two Pages View
Use a page break to separate some of the text from the rest.

Insert a Section Break in Word

If you wish to apply varying formatting on different parts of the document, then you’ll want to break it into sections. This includes varying the columns, headers and footers, pagination, borders, and other settings.

To create a section break, place the cursor where you would like the section break to be. Go to Insert > Break > Section Break.

Microsoft Word - Insert a Section Break
You can also add section breaks.

Select the type of section break you want to insert:

  • Section Break (Next Page) creates a section break and moves the next section into a new page.
  • Section Break (Continuous) keeps the two sections on the same page while allowing you to apply different formatting settings for each.
  • Section Break (Odd Page) starts a new section on the next odd-numbered page.
  • Section Break (Even Page) starts a new section on the next even-numbered page.

Take Control of Your Page Layouts with Microsoft Word

Use Microsoft Word’s page layout tools to give your documents a consistent, readable, and professional look. You don’t have to be an expert in Word to take better control of your document’s page layouts. With Microsoft Word’s page layout tools, you can make any document look the way you want it to.

You don’t have to start from scratch, either. You can have professional designers make most of the design and layout decisions for you by using print templates for MS Word. If you want unlimited downloads of templates as well as photos, fonts, icons, and other creative assets—all for one small, fixed fee—then Envato Elements is the best source for you.

For one-off Word templates and other desktop publishing tools, look to GraphicRiver. Here, you can access everything you need to create impressive print materials on a pay-per-use basis.

And when you use a template, the skills you learned in this post will help you customize and adapt it to your needs.

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