Templates let you configure all the relevant settings you want pre-applied to documents—page layout, styles, formatting, tabs, boilerplate text, and so on. You can then easily create a new document based on that template.

When you save a document as a template, you can then use that template to create new documents. Those new documents contain all the text (and images, and other content) that the template contains. They also have all the same page layout settings, sections, and styles as the template. Templates can save you a lot of time when you’re creating multiple documents that need to have a consistent layout, format, and some boilerplate text.

How to Save a Document as a Template

The first thing you’re going to want to do is craft your document the way you want new documents to appear. Strip the text (and images, and so on) down to just the boilerplate material you want to appear in new documents. Go ahead and set up your page layout (margins, sections, columns, etc.), as well as any formatting and styles you want to use.

When you’ve got the document looking how you want, it’s time to save it as a template. Open the “File” menu, and then click the “Save As” command.

Select where you want to save your document.

After typing a name for your template, open the dropdown menu underneath the name field, and then choose the “Word Template (*.dotx)” option.

Click the “Save” button.

That’s it. You have now saved your custom Word template.

How to Create a New Document Based on a Template

Once you have saved your custom template, you can then create new documents based on it. The easiest way to do this is to just fire up Word.

Its opening splash screen shows a bunch of featured templates that are either built-in or downloadable. At the top of the window, click the “PERSONAL” link to show your custom templates. Then, all you have to do is click the template you want, and Word creates a new document based on it.

By default, Word likes to save templates to Documents\Custom Office Templates, where they’ll show up alongside templates you create in any other Office app.

RELATED: How To Create Custom Templates in Excel

When you save a template, you can choose a different location if you want. The trouble is that if you save it in a different location, Word may not be able to pick it up and display it on the splash screen as an option. If that’s not a big deal to you, then save them anywhere you like. You can still create a new document based on the template by just double-clicking the file.

You can also open the template in Word so that you can edit it by right-clicking the file, and then choosing the “Open” command from the context menu.

If you want an even more organized approach, you can change the default location where Excel saves templates. This lets you save templates where you want (though they still need to all be in the same location) and be able to access them on Word’s splash screen.

On the “File” menu, click the “Options” command. In the “Word Options” window, slick the “Save” category on the left. On the right, type the path where you want to save templates in the “Default personal templates location” box. Click “OK” when you’re done.

In the end, Word templates are functionally much like regular Word documents. The big difference lies in how Word handles those files, making it easy for you to create new documents based on them.

Profile Photo for Hayley Milliman Hayley Milliman
Hayley Milliman is a former Teach for America teacher turned curriculum developer and writer. Over the past five years, she's written hundreds of articles on everything from Microsoft Office to education to history. She's co-author of the book .
Read Full Bio »