Creating Word Templates to Use and Share

Mychelle Blake
woman sitting at cafe table drinking coffee and working on laptop

Creating templates in Microsoft Word can make you work more efficiently if you tend to create a lot of documents that have a similar structure but different content. For example, forms, invoices, handouts, flyers and even school assignments can be done quicker with a template.

Make a Text-Based Template in Microsoft Word

When creating a template, you can either save a document you've already created as a template, or start one from scratch.

  1. If you're creating a new document, use Ctrl-N or choose New and Blank Document from the menu. If you're using a document you've already created, open the document using File and Open and choosing the document from your computer's file directory.
  2. When you save the file as a template, it will save all the text and text formatting, or styles, that you have in the document. Edit your text and styles so they match exactly how you want them to be for future documents.
  3. Once your document is ready, you need to save it. Go to the File menu and choose Save As and then from the drop-down menu provided, scroll down and choose "Word Template (*.dotx)". Then choose Save.
How to save a Word document as a template.

Make a Text and Image Template in Microsoft Word

Templates can be more complicated than just simple text. For example, you can create templates with images, columns and text boxes to make a flyer or brochure.

  1. Start by creating a new document as described above.
  2. Format your document as you would if you were creating the actual finished document. For this example the document will be a one-page flyer with photos.
  3. Use the Insert menu to add in objects such as text boxes, shapes and pictures. You can then add formatting for the text and images in these sections.
    Using a box in a template
  4. When you're done, choose Save As and name your template and save it as a Word Template (*.dotx).
  5. You can then create documents using this template. To edit text and images in the template, simply click on those sections with the mouse and edit.
  6. Remember to save the document as a regular document file when you're done!

Using Form Controls with Your Microsoft Word Templates

Form controls allow you to add additional features to your template, such as instantly updated date fields and drop-down menus. Form controls can be a great option if you're making a document that will have the same information from a set of information that the user can choose from, such as meeting locations or divisions of a company. You can also use it to make sure that users can only make certain changes to text boxes in your template.

  1. To use form controls, you'll need to access the Developer Tab.
  2. Go to the File menu at the top and then choose Options at the bottom of the list.
  3. Choose the Customize Ribbon option and then on the screen provided, click on the Developer option in the right-hand box and choose OK. Now the Developer tab options will be visible to you on your main menu ribbon.
    Accessing Developer Tools in Word.
  4. If you want to allow users to edit the styles of the text in a text box, click on the box in question and then click the Rich Text Content Control icon and choose Design Mode and Properties to make your changes and choose OK to save. Likewise if you want to prohibit someone from editing the styles, choose the Plain Text Content Control icon.
  5. You can add a small calendar pop-up that will appear when users click on the date field. Click on the field and then Date Picker icon and Properties. You can set the style of date format and then choose OK when you're done.
    Adding a date picker field to a template in Word.
  6. To add a Dropdown List, click on the area you wish to add it and then click on the Dropdown List Control icon and then Properties. Choose Add to add options, such as locations for a company location drop-down menu and then choose OK to save.
Adding a drop down menu to a template in Word.

Using Your Microsoft Word Templates

Once you've created your templates, you're now ready to use them to make new documents. You can also change where they are stored and edit them as need be.

Changing the Template Directory

If you are using World 2019, Word will automatically save the template in the default template directory, which is C:\Users\{Your Username}\Documents\Custom Office Templates. If you are using older versions of Word, they will either be saved in C:\Users\Owner\Documents\Custom Office Templates or C:\Users\{Your Username}\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates.

  1. If you want to change the default location where templates are stored, go to the File menu and choose Options.
  2. Then choose Save and go to Default Personal Templates Location.
  3. You can enter the directory here where you want the templates to be placed when you save them.

Editing Your Template

To make changes to your template, use the File menu and choose Open to access your template.

  • Make sure you are opening it from either the default template directory or the directory you set up to save templates in.
  • Edit the template and when you are finished, choose File and Save (or Ctrl-S) and save and close the file.

Using the Template to Create Documents

Once your template is ready to go, you can now use it to make documents.

  1. Use the File menu and choose New and instead of choosing Blank Document, look down on the screen to see a list of pre-defined templates from Word. Look for "Custom" among the menu options and your templates will appear. Note, on some versions of Word it may say "Personal" instead of Custom.

    Finding a saved custom template in Word.
  2. Click on the template you want to use and it will open up for you.

    Opening a saved custom template in Word.
  3. Choose File and Save As to name your new document. Now that you have saved it as a regular Word file, you can start adding in your new text and images and save the file when you are done.

Sharing Your Template for Download

It's easy to share your templates with others via a website or blog. Simply upload the template file to your site's directory as a media file. Paste the link to the file or an image with a link into your site's public pages and provide instructions for people to download. They can download the file as they would any other typical Word file but when they save it to their drive, they need to make sure they save it to their template directory. Or, they can open it which will open as a regular Word document and then save it as a template to their default or custom template directory.

Save Time With Microsoft Word Templates

Using templates can make your work go much faster by eliminating time wasted duplicating information and formatting. They're easy to create and edit and you can share with your friends or work colleagues online. Start thinking about all the types of documents you can use with templates to organize your workflow more efficiently!

Creating Word Templates to Use and Share