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How-To Geek

Lesson 1: Using Templates to Ensure Common Layout and Formatting

Create a New Custom, Personal Template

To create a new custom, personal template, simply create a new document and save it as a template file. To do this, click the “File” tab.

NOTE: You can also open an existing document containing the styles and formatting you want in your template and save it as a template file. You can delete the content of the document or leave some in as boilerplate text or add text to explain how to write that type of document.

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Click the “New” option on the “Info” screen.

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On the “New” screen, click “Blank document.”

NOTE: If you have an existing document that contains the styles and formatting you want in your template, click “Open” and select that document.

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If you’re creating a template from a new document, set up the styles you want to use in your document, including fonts, paragraph formatting, margins, spacing, etc. Refer to the How-To Geek School’s Guide to Word 2013 Formatting for more information.

If you’re using an existing document, adjust the current styles and formatting to match what you want in your template. In either case, you can also set up any boilerplate text, headers, and footers that will be common to all documents created from this template, or explanatory text about how to write the document.

Click the “File” tab and click “Save As” on the “Info” screen.

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On the “Save As” screen, click “Computer” in the list of locations on the left and click “Browse” on the right side.

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On the “Save As” dialog box, either “Word Template (*.dotx)” or “Word Macro-Enabled Template (*.dotm)” from the “Save as type” drop-down list. Navigate to the same location you specified earlier as the default location for personal templates, so you can access it on the “New” screen when creating documents.

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Enter a name for the template in the “File name” edit box and click “Save.”

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If you’ve created your template from an existing document created in an earlier version of Word, you may see the following dialog box. If you don’t want to see this dialog box every time you save a document from an earlier version of Word, select the “Do not ask me again” check box, then click “OK.”

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NOTE: If you prefer to keep your template compatible with earlier versions of Word, be sure to select the “Maintain compatibility with previous versions of Word” check box on the “Save As” dialog box.

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In the above image, you may notice that the Normal.dotm template is located in the personal templates folder. When we changed the location of the personal templates, Word copied the Normal template there as well.

Protect a Template

Before attaching your template to a document, it’s a good idea to protect it first. The best way to accomplish this is to make the template file read-only. This is easily done in Windows (not Word).

To protect your template, open Windows Explorer and navigate to “C:\Users\<username>\Documents\Custom Office Templates” or to the location to which you switched for the personal templates. Right-click on the template file and select “Properties” from the popup menu.

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On the “General” tab on the “Properties” dialog box, select the “Read-only” check box in the “Attributes” section and click “OK.”

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Create a New Document from a Template

To create a new document using the template you just created, click the “File” tab and click “New” on the left side of the “Info” screen. The “New” screen displays the various Featured templates. Click “Personal” to view the custom templates you have created and saved.

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Custom templates you have created and saved to the folder you specified earlier as the default folder for personal templates are displayed on the “New” screen. Click on the template you want to attach to your new document.

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A new document opens with the selected template attached. If the template contains any boilerplate text, header, or footer, they would be inserted into the new, empty document.

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If the template contains any boilerplate text, header, footer, or explanatory text, that content would be inserted into the empty, new document, as illustrated below.

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Now you can craft your document as you would any Word document (be sure and save your work). The template saves you time with regard to formatting and styles, but it’s still just a new document until you save it.

Editing the document doesn’t change the template attached to it. We’ll discuss editing templates later in this series.

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 03/17/14

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