How to Best Create Templates for Clients to edit the content/copy


The Big Question

What is the best (possibly a software application) to create Documents (e.g PDF Brochures, Business Portfolios, Annual Reports etc)so that a client can edit the text content?

My Problem

I have a client who often needs me to make small content changes to brochures - as his company grows and gains new clients, products etc he wants these in the orginal documents. He is a good client so I don't want to tell him to just bugger off, but it seems to be a waste of my time and his to have me edit a paragraph and title.


  • Software I don't really want to tell him to buy indesign and Id rather not wrangle with word
  • Simplicity I don't want to have to spend an entire afternoon helping him learn something

Ideally he will be able to click change a header (keep fonts, pt sizes, etc... the same) and edit content areas.

4/14/2014 11:38:00 PM

There are really only 3 solutions....

  1. Client purchases and learns the software you use (InDesign, Illustrator, etc) - Watch font licenses here. You can't legally just give clients fonts you use in many instances.Therefore the client will also need to purchase font licenses for themselves. - In addition, I charge for native files. So there is that added cost as well.
  2. You use software the client has and knows (Word, Powerpoint, etc) This is often not an option on my end. I don't have the time to spend reconstructing items in a less-than-designer-friendly application. Sure you can go the Indd -> PDF -> Word route, but that's always unstable and requires a lot of fiddling in my experience. In addition, I'd be laughed at by my print providers (who would reject the files) if I provided Word files for press - no cmyk, no resolutions, etc.
  3. You can use PDF forms in some cases. This can be really difficult to do however due to the nature of the PDF forms (single or multi-line no text wrapping, etc). It is possible to set up some areas, such as addressing to allow the client to input their own information. However, this is not a viable solution if the client wants to edit a single word in the middle of a paragraph. With Acrobat Pro some text editing can be done in standard PDFs, but again, the amount of editing is generally not as thorough as clients would like.

I've run into the same requests. I traditionally explain items 1 and 2 above without actually providing option 3.

If the request falls into item 3 for me - 1 or 2 lines of text and that's all that is needed - I'll use option 3 and send the client the PDF - beyond that I don't suggest the PDF form to the client. And if asked to allow more PDF form input, I explain why it's not a viable option in many cases.

Generally, with a conversation about software costs and print requirements, the clients come to the conclusion that it much more cost effective to have me make that small edit than to purchase software, fonts, and educational materials. And I simply don't have the time to dedicate to constructing press files in Word or something similar (in addition to explanations as to why Microsoft products aren't designed for professional print production use).

4/14/2014 10:25:00 PM