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Business Document Templates – A Brief Overview & Tips

Person signing a business document

It can seem like employees spend eternity creating documents. This is because they may have to create the same documents over and over again. With business document templates, however, the amount of time spent is greatly reduced since you do not have to start from scratch and they minimize error, which means minimized need for certain error checks. To effectively use templates, however, businesses have to identify the templates they need and then determine how to create them.

The most commonly used templates fall into the following categories:

Legal Document Templates

Legal team standing around a desk

Any document that has legal implications falls in this category. This includes:

Legal documents are complex and usually need a legal brain to create but with templates, this can be done easily by a competent employee.

To create a legal document template, open a blank document in Word and save it as a template. As you save, ensure you give it an appropriate name that will make it easy to find. For example, “Service Contract Template” is a name anyone can remember.

Now that you have a fresh template to work on, you can start setting guidelines. Usually, the formatting is the next thing you should take care of. Use standard formatting that your business has agreed on. You can also set style guidelines.

The template can also have guiding content like headings, introductory statements as well as clauses that are a constant. For example, a service contract usually has most of the clauses as a constant but you can leave areas for variables to be added. When all the content is done, the document can be saved in a central location where authorized personnel can access it easily. Most business document templates are designed similarly.

Human Resource Documents

Human resources group in a discussion

Whether it is a big or small business, as long as there are employees, there will be a need for several HR documents. All the documents that are concerned with employee welfare and employment will fall under this category. These include:

Not every HR document may need a template, but it helps to have templates for commonly used documents that may take time to create and that need to follow certain guidelines. It can be tiresome having to create terms of employment from scratch so creating a template for every time a new employee is signed on is a better option.

Finance Documents

Business person on phone and laptop

Finance documents help a business keep track of success benchmarks. They show you if you are within budget or on a runaway train to debt. They are very important documents and with no errors. Using templates for these documents enables the finance department to keep their mind on the figures and the graphs instead of worrying about how many columns should be inserted in a particular report. Common finance documents include:

Marketing Documents

Sales and marketing are the heartbeats of a business because that is where the money comes from. Some documents within this department can pass for finance documents. If there is a department within a business that should be given priority when designing templates, it would be this one since the personnel has the hard task of marketing the business and they have a high document demand. Some of these important marketing documents include:

Marketing team sitting around a table discussing

Administration Documents

The administration handles a lot of communication internally as well as externally. This communication needs to be professionally structured and perfectly branded. Templates ensure that and more is achieved. The admin documents are varied and the most common include:

How to Come up With Business Document Templates?

Identify the Need: Businesses are unique and therefore will have unique document needs. Each business needs to study their use of documents and identify which ones are used often. This is a process that should involve every department and it helps to handle it one department at a time. A list of the necessary templates will have to be made.

Create a Brand Identity: Your templates must epitomize your brand. Determine what fonts you will use, the size of the fonts, colors as well as the logo. You should have a uniform logo, not different versions used in different departments. The brand identity will determine the regulations that guide document creation within the template.

Choose a Template Designer: Evaluate the abilities of the staff within the business to see if there are individuals who can competently design templates. If there isn’t, you may need to outsource the task. You can also consider the use of software that can make template design easier and save costs. You may need more than one designer since the work may be a lot.

Person sitting at a desk in front of a laptop

Implementing Document Templates

The implementation of designs may not be as easy as you imagine. You may need to hire a company to ensure that the templates are compatible with the applications you are using within your organization.

You can also have the templates automated so that they enter personalized information for example when using a CRM, the template will load a customer’s name and other personal information automatically.

A business will also need a template manager who has access to the template and can update the designs as needed. At the same time, user access should be implemented so that there is a centralized location where the templates can be accessed. Cloud storage would be the best option.

Monitor Performance

Once the templates are in use, monitor performance to ensure they are achieving the success you predicted, and where necessary, changes can be made.

Tags Start & End

Tags Can Start & End Anywhere

Appendix B

.NET code for multi-page image output

Appendix A

Java code for multi-page image output

Data Bin Search

The Data Bin can now be searched to find a table, column, node or other piece of data without scrolling through it all.

Shrink to Fit

This will shrink the contents of a cell until it fits the defined cell size.

Time Zone Conversion

A new Windward macro has been added to help with converting dates and times from UTC time to the local time zone.

Image Output Format

New image output formats added.

PostScript Output Format

PostScript, commonly used with printers and printing companies, has been added as an additional output format.

New and Improved Datasets (Designer, Java Engine, .NET Engine)

Datasets have been re-written from scratch to be more powerful and easier to use.

Stored Procedure Wizard (Designer)

This works for all tag types that are connected to a SQL-based data source (Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, or DB2).

Boolean Conditional Wizard (Designer)

Before, conditional statements could only be written manually. Now they can also be built using our intuitive Wizard interface.

Reorganized Ribbon

The ribbon menus have been re-organized and consolidated to improve the report design workflow.

XPath 2.0 as Data Source

Adds various capabilities such as inequalities,descending sort, joins, and other functions.

SQL Select Debugger

SQL Select  Debugger

  • The look and feel was improved
  • Stored Procedure Wizard
  • Improved Exceptions pane

Tag Editor/Tag Selector

Added a Query tab as a field for typing or pasting in a select statement

  • Color Coding of Keywords
  • TypeAhead
  • Evaluate is now "Preview"

Rename a Datasource

All tags using that Data source will be automatically updated with that name.

Connecting to a Data Source

New single interface to replace 2 separate dialog boxes

Tag Tree

Displays of all the tags in the template, structured as they are placed in the template. This provides a simple & intuitive way to see the structure of your template. Also provides the capability to go to any tag and/or see the properties of any tag.

Added Javelin into the RESTful Engine

Support for Google Application Engine Integration

The ability to integrate the Windward Engine into Google’s cloud computing platform for developing and hosting web applications dubbed Google Applications Engine (GAE).

Additional Refinement for HTML Output

  • Improved indentation for ordered and unordered lists
  • Better handling of template header and footer images
  • Better handling for background images and colors

Redesigned PDF Output Support

This new  integration will allow for processing of complex scripts and bi-directional  text such as Arabic.  Your PDF output  will be much tighter and more closely match your template, and we’ll be able  to respond rapidly to PDF requests and fixes.

PowerPoint Support

Includes support for new ForEach and slide break handling, table header row repeat across slide breaks, and native Microsoft support for charts and images.

Tags are Color Coded

Tags are color coded in the template by type, making it easy to visually identify them.

Increased Performance

Version 13’s core code has been reworked and optimized to offer a reduced memory footprint, faster PDF generation and full documentation of supported features and limitations in the specifications for DOCX, XLSX and PPTX.

Advanced Image Properties

Documents can include advanced Word image properties such as shadows, borders, and styles.

Improved HTML Output

Windward has updated HTML output to reflect changing HTML standards.

Version 13 New Data Sources

Windward now works with a slew of new datasources: MongoDB, JSON, Cassandra, OData, Salesforce.com

Generate Code

The Generate Code tool in the designer allows you to open an existing template and, with a click of a button, automatically create a window with the code needed to run your current template with all data sources and variables. Simply copy this code and paste into your application's code in the appropriate place. You now have Windward integrated into your application.

You only need to do this once. You do not do this for each template. Instead, where it has explicit files for the template and output, change that to parameters you pass to this code. Same for the parameters passed to Windward. This example uses explicit values to show you what to substitute in where.

Pivot Tables Adjusted in Output

Any pivot tables in an XLSX template are carried over to the XLSX output. The ranges in the pivot ranges are adjusted to match the generated output. So your final XLSX will have pivot tables set as expected in the generated file.

This makes creating an XLSX workbook with pivot tables trivial.

Imported Template Can be Set to Match the Parent Styles

In an imported sub-template, if its properties for a style (ex. Normal) differ from the parent template's properties for the style, the use in the sub-template can be set to either use the properties in the sub-template, or the properties in the parent.

You set to retain when you don't want the child template's styling to change when imported. You set to use the parent when you want the styling of the imported template to match the styling in the parent.

Any explicit styling is always retained. This only impacts styling set by styles.

Tags can be Placed in Text Boxes

Tags can be placed in text boxes. Including linked text boxes. This gives you the ability to set the text in a textbox from your data.

Tags can be Placed in Shapes & Smart Art

Tags can be placed in shapes & smart art. This gives you the ability to set the text in a shape from your data.

HTML Output Supports Embedded Images

When generating HTML output, the engine can either write bitmaps as distinct files the generate HTML references, or it can embed the images in the HTML providing a single file for the output.

Footnotes & Endnotes can Have Tags

You can place tags in pretty much any part of a template, including in footnotes & endnotes.

Document Locking Supported in DOCX & XLSX

Any parts of a DOCX or XLSX (PowerPoint does not support this) file that are locked in the template, will be locked the same in the output.

Specify Font Substitution

If a font used in the template does not exist on the server generating a report, the font to substitute can be specified.
In addition, if a glyph to be rendered does not exist in the font specified, you can specify the replacement font. This can be set distinctly for European, Bi-Directional, and Far East fonts.

Process Multiple Datasources Simultaneously

If you need this - it's essential. And if you don't need it, it's irrelevant.

Windward enables you to build a document by applying multiple datasources to the template simultaneously. When Windward is merging the data into a template, it processes the template by handling each tag in order, and each tag pulls from different datasources. (As opposed to processing all of one datasource, then processing the next.)

This allows the select tag to use data from another datasource in its select. For example, if you are pulling customer information from one data source, you can then pull data from the sales datasource using the customer ID of the customer presently processing to pull the sales information for that customer. If you're interested in patching together your data from multiple datasources, read this post on our blog.

Genesis Abel

Written by:_
Genesis Abel
Windward © 2020 All Rights Reserved.


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