As a savvy Assistant, you are likely to be asked to create or work on many different types of document, some on a regular basis – such as reports, minutes or newsletters.

As activities go, creativity and writing can be highly time-consuming. It makes sense, therefore, for the VA, PA or EA to be efficient in how they work when creating professional documents in Microsoft Word.

Using Templates and Themes is not only a smart way to save time on tasks but it is a way to give documents more visual appeal and accessibility.

Why Every Assistant Should Use Templates and Themes in Word

Using Templates and Themes is part of the process of formatting and customising documents for brand consistency.

It’s a way of ensuring the documents you work on have a consistent look or format – either for your own business, your clients or for the organisation you’re part of.

Templates save time because you do not have to start from scratch with each new document. The pre-built template in Microsoft Word has done the essential formatting for you. You can then, if required, use Themes to help align the appearance of the document with brand colour guidelines.

Creating a professional look for documents is easy with Templates and Themes. There are a variety of templates to suit different document types, including:

  • A CV or resume
  • Business letter
  • Report
  • Invoice
  • Newsletter
  • Brochure
  • Flyer
  • Research paper
  • Cover letter
  • Business paper
  • Menu
  • Catalogue.

As an aside, if you’ve not updated your CV or resume for a while, it’s a good move to do that sooner rather than later. It not only gives you practice with templates, but it also reminds you of how your career has progressed, and the skills and experience you have picked up since you last wrote one.

How Templates Can Simplify Your Life as an Assistant

Let me give you a couple of quick examples as to how a template can save you time.

Say you’ve been asked to put together a business letter. The letter template in Microsoft Word can include formatted space for contact information, the date, the recipient’s address, the salutation, body copy and the close. It can also provide a signature line and space for enclosures, such as a business card or brochure.

Creating a newsletter? The template can give you ready-made formatting for the header, body text, footer, and space for images or other media, such as video.

The templates give you a starting point, a framework to work with. Change what you want to change – to customise – and then add the words (and any supporting images, charts, tables or media) to create the desired document.

If you want more confidence in completing these kinds of tasks, my Word Skills Mastery series of mini courses show you how to create stunning documents in Word.

Customising Documents with Templates and Themes in Microsoft Word

When in Word, you select a Template to work with. You can stick to the formatting the Template offers or customise the template to your own requirements.

You can change the font, though it may be wise to keep to a font that is similar in style to the default. Switching from Times New Roman to Comic Sans for a business letter might not be the best idea (if you know how these fonts look, you’ll know what I mean).

You can add images and graphics to a Word document but remember to keep it looking professional. Limit the number of colours and graphics being used in formal documents, saving them more for presentations or creative project proposals.

You can adjust the page layout and margins, and add charts, tables or other elements to make the information in the document easier to digest. To give your document a designer-quality look, you can use Themes to produce coordinating colours and fonts.

When you have customised a document you can save it as a new template, ready to go next time you need to create and work on a similar document.

Collaborating and Sharing with Templates and Themes in Word

The savvy Assistant may well find there are times when they are collaborating on documents in Word with other people – whether clients, colleagues or bosses.

The beauty of templates is that you can build up a folder of templates, ready to go whenever you need them – and share those templates with others so they can use them as well.

A good example of how this might work is a team newsletter for each department of an organisation. Each newsletter follows the company branding consistently but each department can customise the newsletter structure and format to how they want to present their news, information and updates. No need to reinvent the wheel, as they say.

If you are co-authoring documents with others, you can start with a template or theme and build on that co-creatively. Collaboration is a good way to get fresh ideas and new ways to customise documents, to make good ones even better.

And, of course, if you have emails and letters that need to be sent to many people, the savvy Assistant will use the mail merge feature to insert data from a contacts spreadsheet – such as name, title and company – into the Word document. That document can be saved as a template for future mass mailings or communications.

Word Makes Life Easier for the Busy Modern Assistant

Microsoft 365 applications are all about making life easier for users – and Microsoft Word is no different.

The savvy VA, PA or EA understands that efficiency is essential for keeping on top of tasks. Saving time and hassle frees the Assistant to get on with other things – and to add more value for clients and bosses.

When you’re working with documents, on a repetitive or regular basis, it makes sense to use make the most of Templates and Themes to take the legwork out of the creative task. Why waste time starting from scratch each time when some of the work has already been done for you by the technology?

Shelley Fishel - The MS Office Maestro

I find Shelley’s training easy to follow and the very best thing is that you can do it all at your own pace and revisit modules if it doesn’t quite sink in the first time round! I have learned so much from her training and continue to do so! She is responsive to my questions and I learn something new with each module. I find Iam hardly ever having to Google or YouTube information now, so it really is saving me time in my work day. Time that can be better used by learning more about the business I operate in!
Thanks Shelley!

Tracey Whitehouse – Executive Assistant

I have been following Shelley on Linkedin for several years, and always loved her hints and tips. In May of this year, I had the opportunity to recommend Shelley as one of our workshop speakers at the annual HMC Heads’ PA Conference in Sheffield.

On receiving the brief Shelley quickly produced content for two IT Microsoft Skills Workshops covering nuggets from Outlook, Word and Excel. Shelley then delivered (virtually) these two fantastic workshops to over 60 PAs at our conference.

From initial enquiry to delivery Shelley is the consummate professional and it was my pleasure to have had the opportunity to engage with her.

I would have no hesitation in recommending Shelley to any individual or group.

Michaela Fletcher – Heads PA

Shelley is THE guru on all things Microsoft.

I love Outlook, use it every day, and think I have a pretty good understanding of it. But every time I attend one of her sessions I learn a lot more. Her knowledge is remarkable. And she delivers her knowledge in a really clear, engaging way.

Thanks Shelley

Kathy Soulsby

I have just spent less than an hour at one of Shelley’s presentations and my mind is truly blown! I thought I was fairly proficient in Outlook, but I had no idea it could do so much more! So many time saving tips and shortcuts to help me – I can’t wait to get stuck in and implement them all! Thank you Shelley – I would highly recommend!

Hayley Rose – Executive Assistant -Dalcour Maclaren

Shelley joined us for the annual HMC Heads’ PAs conference in May 2023, where she delivered two hands-on practical IT skills workshops for over 60 PAs in attendance. Both sessions were warmly received by all participants, and from a personal perspective it was an absolute pleasure for me to work with Shelley both offline in the extensive prep phase ahead of the sessions, and online during the day itself – sharp in subject knowledge, flexible in content delivery and everything executed with a really affable manner and “can-do” approach throughout. I would recommend her services wholeheartedly.

Gareth Johnson – Leader GRE Education

Heads PA Conference

The session was well structured and the explanation was very clear. It was amazing how Shelley managed to squeeze so much info in just one hour and a half! Colin’s support and contributions were also very valuable, and so were “Virtual Veronica”‘s. Thank you for a most interesting and useful training session at the Miss Jones Virtual Summit!

Laura Carizzo- Royal Norwegian Embassy in Argentina

I haven’t used PowerPoint in 20 years, this has really boosted my confidence.

Lyn Parker

Course is packed with so much valuable information in a easy-to-understand and follow language, even for a complete beginner. I can respect the fact that sometimes it’s very hard for an expert to break the information down to basics. but Shelley has done it brilliantly. I was sure that I knew quite a bit but Shelley has proven me wrong even at the very beginning of the basics of PowerPoint. Lessons are short and precise which allowed me to easily transfer the new skill into practice without being overwhelmed and to carry on adding on more with each lesson. I had so many ‘Aha!’ moments and for most of them I couldn’t believe I used to pay graphic designer to do it for me, now, thanks to Shelley, I am looking forward to creating, designing, converting my presentations all by myself!

Iva Freeman – Vertex Human Capital

Shelley was very thorough and knew a lot of tip’s for using Teams, thank you 🙂

James O’Connor – Cavannah Homes

Very informative, constantly getting everyone in the meeting involved, loved every bit of it!

Dylan Teal Hopkins – Cavannah Homes
Fantastic and informative training and great to see all of the exciting functions with Microsoft Teams.
Laura Rigby – The Apprenticeship College
Shelley was really clear in her teaching and went at a pace that was helpful to us. We covered all we needed to know to get us started, as a small team, using MS Teams. She was also very helpful in the run up to the session, with check in calls and ensuring our platform was set up correctly. I would highly recommend Shelley to anyone wanting to learn to navigate their way around MS Teams.
Leigh Dowling – Innuous

Microsoft Teams One to One Training Session

Shelley was approachable, easy to work with, and agile with answering questions to apply the session to my specific needs

Melissa Marshall – Present Your Science

A course on Outlook had been on the top of my list when Shelley asked VA’s what they wanted to learn. It was a real case of ‘so that’s how you do it’ or ‘I never knew that’. I have to say that I learnt so many great tips it has definitely improved the way I work in Outlook and my inbox is looking colourful and organised and I can’t wait to share this knowledge with my clients.

Jacqueline Leake – JLeake VA Services – Outlook

A great course with lots of examples and step by step instructions. I can now confidently create infographics and as a bonus, I learnt a lot of new PowerPoint functionality that will enhance all my PowerPoint work and save me so much time.

Jessica Bailey – Integral Resource

I really like Shelley’s courses. She has a clear and easy to follow teaching style. In ‘How to Create Fillable Forms’ I’ve learned about the functions of the Developer ribbon which will mean I’ll be able to create a bespoke Returns Form for a client who has an online shop

Freya Henderson – Virtual Office Orkney