Let’s design stunning stationery

Custom stationery speaks volumes about your client. As a designer, you have a lot of tools to bring their style to life. Here’s how to deliver a design they’ll love.
Your client just ordered stationery (score!) but you’ve got some questions. Have no fear, 99designs is here. Read on for specifications, design do’s & dont’s, and a glossary of design terms. It’s everything you’ll need to hand-off an awesome design.

Size and specifications

Yes, “sizes and shapes may vary,” but standard stationery can still stand out. The most common sizes are slightly different for printers in America and the rest of the world. Follow these specifications to ensure your letterhead and envelope designs print correctly. But if your client wants a special shape, you’ll need to request specifications directly from them.

US letterhead

  • Size: 8.5 x 11 inches
Download a template (PhotoshopIllustrator) 

Non-US letterhead

  • Size: A4 (210 x 297 mm)
Download a template (PhotoshopIllustrator)

#10 US envelope

  • Size: 9.5 x 4.125  inches
Download a template (Photoshop / Illustrator)

#9 US envelope

  • Size: 8.875 x 3.875 inches
Download a template (Photoshop / Illustrator)

#6 3/4 US envelope

  • Size: 6.5 x 3.625 inches
Download a template (Photoshop / Illustrator)

Non-US envelope

  • Size: 221 x 110 mm
Download a template (PhotoshopIllustrator)

Submitting to your client

Once your client has approved the final design, send them all of the design files. Here’s what they need:
  • An editable version of the final design (AI, PSD, PDF, EPS or INDD)
  • All web preview images (JPEG or PNG)
  • A link to purchase any commercial fonts used in the design
Make sure all files are saved in the CMYK color mode and 300dpi resolution.

The design checklist

Great design never came from following rules. So, break ‘em! Except for these. They’re pretty important. Stick to these guidelines to ensure your text, images and layout are perfect.
  • Stay consistent with brand elements like logo, colors and typeface.
  • Confirm size and specifications for each piece you’re designing.
  • Include the print bleed.
  • Ask client if they're printing themselves or at a commercial printer. Don’t use borders unless letterhead will be professionally printed.
  • Check if your client plans to print on a special type of paper and adjust your design to that type of surface.
  • Ask if printing budget allows for advanced techniques like embossing, foil blocking and die-cutting before adding into design.
  • Remember space for stamp, return address and the back on envelopes.

The dictionary of design

CMYK and RGB... droids from Star Wars, right? Design lingo can be a little tricky, but we can translate. Here are some design and printing terms you’ll need to know.

Color mode

How to represent colors in your design
  • CMYK: Used for print design, ink-based
  • RGB: Used for digital design, light-based


The amount of detail in an image in pixels
  • High resolution: 300 dpi (dots per inch) keep image sharp
  • Low resolution: Too little info will make image pixelated

Print guidelines

Measurements to include for physical printing process
  • Trim line: Printer will cut image here
  • Bleed: Area of printing extended to the edge, beyond the trim line
  • Safety line: All printable text should sit inside this border

Printing techniques

How your design is printed
  • 4-color offset: Standard, full color printing process
  • 1- or 2-color: Limit color to accommodate limited budget
  • Foil ink: Special process using metallic foil, not ink
  • Spot color: One additional foil or fluorescent color


The final touches made to printed designs
  • Foil blocking: Stamp with metallic, foil finishes
  • Embossing: Raise the texture of printed material
  • Spot UV: Make certain areas of printed design glossy