Have you ever been asked to build, or modify, a flyer during your nonprofit career? Whether you’ve worked in program services, volunteer management or development, I’m guessing the answer is yes. It’s certainly happened to me more than a few times!
If you’re Illustrator savvy, this isn’t a big ask. But if not, you’ve probably wondered ‘where do I begin? And WHY can’t we just contract this out to someone else for crying out loud?’
Fortunately, you don’t need to be a designer to put together something solid. You can always rework an old file from your organization’s archives, use an online program like Canva, or browse templates online. But if you need something more custom and not of the internet, and if you have any familiarity with Word, then there is a tool that can help easily help you put this together: tables.
Tables in Microsoft Word, Google Docs and other word-processing software are perfect for crafting a template that’s visually appealing, low maintenance, and easy to edit in the future. Here are 5 tricks to know so that you can take full advantage of this overlooked tool.
5 Must-Know Tips for Quickly Designing a Flyer in Word (using Tables)
For this example, I threw together a very basic flyer about this blog. Nothing too crazy.
Before we get to the real tips, here are some pre-tips to consider when you’re first setting up:
- Document size: 8.5 x 11 is almost always the default. If you’re building a flyer that is any other size, set your new page dimensions first!
- Page Margins: The standard margins for an 8.5 x 11 document are 1 inch on all four sides. If you want a design that spans the whole page, lower these margin numbers to give yourself more space.
1. Shading and Fill.
Every flyer needs color! Use the table shading/fill feature in your cells to create a clean, pretty presentation. Filling rows or columns with alternating colors can give the illusion of a banner, a separate section to your flyer, blocks, or even stripes.
*How it’s Done*: Click into the cell you want to change (or highlight multiple cells). Then, use the paint bucket icon to fill with color. The bucket icon is in the Table Design or Table formatting section of the menu, but you can also right-click and choose Borders and Shading.
Borders can really accent your flyer. The trick is learning how to visualize the way a border (or lack of one) could look in your document. When you insert a table, the borders will automatically surround each cell with a black, 1pt line. In the example below, we remove those border lines.
*How It’s Done*: Click into the cell with the borders that you want to adjust (or highlight multiple cells, like in the example below). Then, use the Border tool in the Table Design tab to add or remove, or to change the color/style of an existing border. (Again, if you can’t find the border grid tool, right-click and select Borders and Shading.)
3. Tables within tables.
Theoretically, one table should be the enough to do what you need. But if you find yourself stuck or unable to format things the way you like, then it’s worth remembering that you can always insert a table within your table – especially if you’re trying to work with images or create a grid effect.
*How It’s Done*: The same way you create a table in a blank document! Click into your cell, then Insert > Table.
4. Cell Alignment.
Do you normally just hit the ‘enter’ button in a table to get your text in the middle of a cell? Use cell alignment instead, to make the placement more precise and consistent across your cells.
*How It’s Done*: Cell alignment settings are found in the Table Properties menu, or by right-clicking in the cell and selecting ‘Cell Alignment’. In the example, see how we change the alignment from top-left to completely centered.
5. Image Wrap Options.
This is actually not specific to tables – image wrap options work the same way in documents without tables too. But they’re important to bring up, because a flyer is likely to have some sort of visual. The wrapping option you select will dictate how easy it is to 1) align your object with any surrounding text, and 2) move your image as you see fit.
*How It’s Done*: It’s good to experiment with all the layout options. Right-click on your image and scroll to the ‘Image Wrap’ section, or click on ‘Layout’ and find the wrap options there.
• Square, Tight and Through are ideal for dragging your image anywhere in the document. Each varies slightly in how the text will wrap around your image, so definitely try them all out.
• In Line with Text treats your image like a text character, regardless of how tall or wide it is (starting from the bottom of the image). This is usually the default wrap option when you first insert an image, and the toughest to maneuver if you plan on dragging throughout the page.
• If you need to use Google Docs, the image wrap options are more limited. They appear as a sort of pop-up, once you select the image in your document.
*Extra Table Tips:*
• Before building out your table structure, try to sketch a rough version of your flyer first. This way, you can anticipate the number of rows, columns and borders you’ll need before getting in the weeds. (Even if you don’t start off with the right table options, it’s easy enough to insert rows/columns and merge cells!)
• If you remove all the borders from a table, but need to see the divisions in order to make edits, put on Gridlines. In Microsoft Word, this is found in the ‘Layout’ tab for your table.
There are tons of resources on how to use word tables for organizing data. But if you need to build something pretty, and pretty quickly, tables are a great means to this end. Your final piece may not be a complete work of art (this flyer certainly wasn’t!), but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you have something that is easy to build, easy to edit going forward, and gets the job done.