Specifying cover images for Microsoft Word templates

I can most faithfully represent your design in a Word template if cover images are:

  1. in png file format
  2. the full size of the page (793px x 1123px for A4)
  3. with no bleeds.

A lot of my work is in creating Microsoft Word templates for formal reports.

Typically, a graphic designer will have created an image for the cover, with text to be placed over the image.

In developing a Word template, my aim is to re-create your design as faithfully as possible. To do that, it helps to get material in the format I can best use it.

Image format

Word can cope with lots of image formats: jpg, gif, wmf, emf and others. But I find that the best combination of image quality, file size, and flexibility is with a png image.


Word is, in the end, a word processor. It was designed to create documents and print them on bits of paper.

Word lays out a page depending on the capabilities of the currently-selected printer. Most printers can’t print to the edge of the paper. So Word won’t let you set margins of 0 to have content against the edge of the paper.

Word will let you position an image against the edge of the paper. But in practice, few office printers can print without a margin. And if the client prints your document and then photocopies it, there is no chance of a bleed surviving intact.

So, avoid bleeds.

Image size

I find that the best way for a graphic designer to supply an image for front or back covers, or even for letterhead, is as one image, exactly the full size of the page.

You may, for example, want to specify that a logo should be 17mm from the top of the page and 22mm from the left of the page. If I just get the logo image, I can position it 17mm from the top and 22mm from the left. But there will always be a bit of uncertainty. It can be tricky to line up the image with text or other elements. And it can be hard on users.

I can reproduce your design far more accurately if I have an image that is the full height and width of the page.

So, how big does it need to be?

By default, Word displays images at 96ppi.

So for A4 paper, we need an image that is 210mm x 297mm at 96ppi. By my calculator, that's  793px x 1123px.

When creating the Word template, I can then place the image in the header or footer, behind the text, aligned with the very top left corner of the page.

In that way, the image does not get in the user's way, the user is unlikely to move the image accidentally, and there is no question about where, exactly, it should be positioned.

Related pages

Front cover images in Microsoft Word report templates