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One way to spruce up your professional image is to explore the world of pre-built business documents and web site templates. There are many good resources online where you can freely download templates for everything: brochures, newsletters, business cards, balance sheets income statements, and more. These […]

One way to spruce up your professional image is to explore the world of pre-built business documents and web site templates. There are many good resources online where you can freely download templates for everything: brochures, newsletters, business cards, balance sheets income statements, and more. These are complemented by some good sites for getting attractively designed web site templates for free, and free applications for business document creation. In this post, I’ll round up some good choices for automating these aspects of self-marketing, including several, free, open source solutions.

Themed templates. In this post, I covered Hewlett-Packard’s extensive collection of freely downloadable business document templates. They come in “Business Identity Kits,” which allow you to streamline how flyers, brochures, business cards and other documents look, using common themes. Additionally, if you use Microsoft Office, you can get free themed document templates from Microsoft.

Web design templates. Open Source Web Designs is an excellent first stop if you’re looking for eye-catching web site templates. The available designs have user ratings and comments, too.

A free desktop publisher. If you are going to build documents, brochures and other materials from the ground up, and you don’t happen to have a solid desktop publishing program, look into Scribus. It’s a free, open source desktop publishing solution available for Windows and the Mac, and it has most of the bells and whistles you need to produce attractive documents. I have found it especially useful for producing booklets and brochures, because it has pre-built templates that you can just insert your graphics and text into.

OpenOffice templates. Even if you don’t use the open source productivity suite OpenOffice on a regular basis, you can download it for free for Windows, the Mac or Linux. You can download many OpenOffice business document templates here; you don’t need to be an expert in using the applications to customize and print the templates.

Clip art, photos and images you can use without worries. Images and photos can spruce up most any document you create. You can find a large collection of free clip art from Microsoft here. For photos that you can drop into blog posts and documents without copyright worries, I recommend using CompFight. The site allows you to cycle through various types of Creative Commons licenses available for photos on Flickr, so that you can choose photos that you can reproduce without fear of infringing anyone’s copyright (although in most cases, you should supply a photo credit and mention the license used).

Fast, professional invoices. For freelancers and remote workers, invoices are some of the most frequently sent documents. In this WebWorkerDaily post, you’ll find several good choices for producing professional-looking invoices online.

Where do you turn for professional-looking templates?

By Samuel Dean

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