Making a Customized Theme Available to Others

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 3, 2014)


Pauline has used "Create New Theme Colors" to include eight of her company-approved colors in a theme. The new color palette successfully appears under "Font Color" on her PC. Pauline wonders how she can transfer this new color theme to others. She would like the new color theme to be transfered to others using the template (dotx) that they currently load in their templates folder, but doesn't know how to go about it.

Unfortunately, custom themes are not stored in templates. Instead, they are stored in their own special files. (More on that in a moment.)

Before you pronounce your custom theme "ready for distribution," there is one thing you need to check. Themes are used in all the applications in the Office suite. Thus, you could define a custom theme in Word and that theme will be available in other Office applications on your system, such as Excel and PowerPoint. This means that you'll want to open those other applications on your system and make sure that the theme reflects everything you want it to reflect within those applications, as well as within Word. (For instance, PowerPoint includes a few theme-related settings that are not available through Word. If your users will be using the theme in PowerPoint, you'll want to load that application and adjust the theme settings there.)

Once your theme is exactly the way you want and you save it, Word places it in a file that has whatever base name you provide (such as "MyTheme") and an extension of .thmx. Thus, the file in which your custom theme is stored is MyTheme.thmx, and it can be easily searched for on your system. For most installations of office, it will appear in the following folder:

C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\Document Themes\

The term "username" in this example varies, depending on the username of the person on the system. In addition, the exact location can be slightly different, depending on a lot of different factors. For this reason it is generally a good idea to use the Windows search function to locate your .thmx file or, if you are searching on a system that doesn't include that file yet, for the Document Themes folder. The following article provides a good exposition of the various places that theme files can end up on a system:

Once you locate the file (on your system) and the folder (on a different system) you can copy the .thmx file from your system to the other system. On the target system you may need to inform Word that you have added the new .thmx file. The easiest way to figure out if this is necessary is to display the Design tab of the ribbon and then, at the left side of the ribbon, click the Themes tool. Word displays a number of theme choices. If it recognized the one you just copied, you'll see it listed near the top of the themes, in the "Custom" area. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The theme options available in Word.

If the theme doesn't show up there, click the Browse for Themes option. In the resulting dialog box you can navigate to the location where you placed the .thmx file, click that file, and then click Open. The theme should now be available within Word.

Bill Jelen provides a good overview on this process in this article:

Once the custom theme is successfully stored (and recognized) on a user's system, you can then use that theme fully. This includes attaching the theme to a template so that it is used by default for new documents on that system. If you use the theme in a template and the theme file (as described earlier) is not on the system on which the template is being used, Word doesn't give you notice that it cannot find the theme—it simply "falls back" to a default theme in an effort to be helpful. Thus, it is important to make sure that all your users have the .thmx file for your custom theme saved on their systems.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13089) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013.

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. ...


Selecting a Table

There are several different ways you can select an entire table in Word. The various methods and shortcuts are described ...

Discover More

Multiple Envelopes in One Document

Want to save a bunch of envelopes in a single document so that you can print them all out as a group? Here's how to ...

Discover More

Mouse Click Event in VBA

Need to know if a particular cell is clicked with the mouse? Excel has no particular event handler for clicking in this ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Formatting Differences between Word Versions

Create a document in one version of Word on one machine and then open that document in a different version of Word on a ...

Discover More

Selective Formatting using Find and Replace

The Find and Replace tool in Word allows you to search for formatting and alter it in your replacement text. What it ...

Discover More

Formatting a Cover Page

Formal reports look better when they are set up with an introductory cover page. Here's how you can add a cover page in a ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 6 - 5?

2019-05-28 19:31:18


I just came across a new tip for sharing themes in a corporate setting.

Define a template "Workgroup" location on the network. Define it in the Word/Office installation.

In the Workgroup folder on the network define a “Document Themes” subfolder. Inside of it define “Theme Colors” and “Theme Fonts” sub folders.

No need to push files.

2017-10-17 12:37:56


Thank you

2017-07-14 06:18:47

John F Hall

I want to have the Standard colour palette available for any Word document I open/edit without having to click on More colours every time. Is there a way to do this?

2016-10-17 16:13:54


I have the same issue as Clare did. I've update a template with correct color theme defined. The new color them does not load when open the template on a different laptop. Is this a pure user preference issue? Or, one can actually set it as part of a template? I'd appreciate any tip on this. Thanks!

2016-09-20 11:03:57

Clare Doyle

Hi Allen,
We've been able to push out theme, font and colour files to everyone in our company and then also use those for common templates that everyone has.

However there was a change to the standard colours so we updated these in the colour file and pushed out an update. We kept the filename exactly the same as it had previously been and just overwrote it.

Everyone's got the updated file but it's not being picked up by the existing templates even though it's got the same filename. Have you come across this before? Any suggestions?

2016-04-05 14:17:20

Brian Adams


I created a custom theme on my pc and emailed it to a co-worker. We stored it in his Document Themes folder but it didn't show up in Excel. We Browsed for Theme and selected it and hit Open but is still doesn't show up. Any ideas?



2015-10-09 03:33:24


Instead of "C:UsersusernameAppDataRoaming" you can type "%APPDATA%"

e.g.: %APPDATA%MicrosoftTemplatesDocument Themes

2015-09-17 18:48:57


This was very helpful and exactly what I was looking for! It worked perfectly for me but for people I tried to share it with, some had their appdata folder hidden. We used %appdata% in the address bar to open it and then followed the rest of the path you provided. It was very helpful.

Thank you!

This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.