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Experts On Your Side

Use templates to pour your work into molds sculpted by professionals.

For anyone running a small business and trying to do it all, using the predesigned templates that are bundled with popular computer programs--particularly office suites, such as Microsoft Office, Lotus SmartSuite, and Corel WordPerfect Suite--can save both time and effort. You can use templates, which are designed by graphics and business experts, to help create documents of all types: letters, memos, newsletters, spreadsheets, databases, presentations, and even World Wide Web pages.

You can use templates without worrying about page layout, design, or color combinations. And you don't have to think about setting margins, selecting fonts, or choosing point sizes for headings and body text.

Templates are not just for layout and design--sometimes, they provide part of the content. For example, many letter and fax templates automatically enter names and addresses that you have previously typed as part of program installation or when filling in a wizard. A wizard is a type of template that guides you, one step at a time, through the early steps of document creation. For example, a letter or fax wizard prompts you, through a series of dialog boxes, to choose a style or type, or to verify names, addresses and telephone numbers. A newsletter wizard enables you to choose the style and number of columns, the newsletter name, and the number of pages. After completing the wizard's dialog boxes, your document is onscreen but still incomplete; you will have to type in the body of the letter, or articles in a newsletter. You may also have to insert graphics into some types of documents, such as newsletters. In presentation templates, which are sets of slides or computer-screen displays, the background design and color are usually in place; all you have to do is type bulleted items and page titles.

Some programs provide templates that help you with the content of each page. Imagine having sales experts such as Zig Ziglar and Ken Wax by your side as you write a sales presentation. With Lotus Freelance Graphics, a presentation program, you can rely on tips from these and other experts to help you construct an effective presentation.

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This article was originally published in the January 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Experts On Your Side.

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