Using Templates to Ensure Common Layout and Formatting

Determine and Change Which Template is Attached to a Document

If you’ve forgotten which template you attached to a document, you can easily find that out within Word and change the template attached to the document. However, you need the “Developer” tab, which is not available by default.

To activate the “Developer” tab, right-click on the ribbon and select “Customize the Ribbon” from the popup menu.


The “Customize Ribbon” screen displays on the “Word Options” dialog box. On the right side of the dialog box, make sure “Main Tabs” is selected from the drop-down list under “Customize the Ribbon.” In the “Main Tabs” list, select the check box next to “Developer” and click “OK.”


Click the “Developer” tab on the Ribbon and click “Document Template” in the “Templates” section.


The “Document template” edit box at the top of the “Templates” tab displays the template that is currently attached to your document. To change which template is attached to the document, click “Attach.”


On the “Attach Template” dialog box, the default personal template location is automatically selected. Select the template you want to attach and click “Open.”


The path to the selected template is entered into the “Document template” edit box. To change the styles in the document to reflect the styles in the template, click the “Automatically update document styles” check box and click “OK.”


The styles and any custom toolbars and macros (as long as you saved the template with the “.dotm” extension) stored in the template are now available to your document.

NOTE: Attaching a template to a document does not add any text or graphics from the template into your document. This only happens when you create a new document from a template.

You can also use this procedure to unattach a template from a document. To do this, simply attach the Normal template to the document instead.

Edit a Template

Editing a template is similar to editing a regular document; the only difference is that the file is saved with a DOTX or DOTM extension (instead of DOCX).

NOTE: Before editing a template, be sure the “Read-only” attribute is off for the template file, as discussed in the “Protect a Template” section earlier.

To edit a template, click the “File” tab and click “Open” on the “Info” screen.


Click “Computer” on the “Open” screen and click “Browse” on the right side.


On the “Open” dialog box, navigate to the folder containing your template, select the file, and click “Open.”


Notice the name of the document in the title bar is the template file with the DOTX or DOTM extension.


Make changes to the styles and any toolbars, macros, and boilerplate text you may have in your template and save the file. Make sure you keep the DOTX extension, or DOTM extension, if your template includes macros.

Lori Kaufman is a 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.