Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Understanding Templates.

Understanding Templates

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated November 19, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


A template is nothing more than a pattern used by Word to describe how your document looks and how you interact with the document. Templates contain formatting information, a style sheet, macros, and boilerplate text.

Since a template serves as a pattern for a document, it can be very powerful. For instance, you might define a template for each type of document that you work with. If you do a weekly departmental report, you might define a template that serves as a pattern for the report. If you write letters, you could define two different templates, one for business letters and another for personal letters. The uses to which templates can be put are literally endless.

Word allows you to create as many template files as you desire. The names of template files end with a filename extension that designates the type of template: either DOTX (a template that does not contain macros) or DOTM (a template that contains macros). If you want to create a template, follow these steps:

  1. Start a new document.
  2. Make your desired changes to the formatting and macros.
  3. Press F12 to display the Save As dialog box.
  4. Using the Save As Type list, choose Word Template or Word Macro-Enabled Template, depending on whether your template contains macros or not.
  5. In the File Name field, enter a name for your template.
  6. Click the Save button.

That's all there is to it. Generally, selecting a type of template in the Save As Type list will move you to your templates directory. However, you should make sure that you save your new template file in the same directory with all your other template files. That way the file will be available for future use.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10195) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Understanding Templates.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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