Best Way to Create a Document Template

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 31, 2020)

Rhonda works for a technical writing company and they use Word templates all the time. However, there are two schools of thought for how to create a template: (1) Open a Word doc and save it as a template file or (2) If you are using an older version of Word then go to File | New | My Templates | Blank Template | Create New. If you are using a newer version of Word, go to File and then New. Word displays a list of templates from the Office template collection (you can also search for online templates). You can also choose templates that have already been created listed under the Personal tab. To create a new template from the Personal list, right-click on a template and choose Create from the resulting context menu. Rhonda thinks the second route is best, but she can't explain why. She wonders if there is any difference between the two routes.

What Rhonda describes is typical for accomplishing many tasks in Word: The ability to arrive at the same destination via different routes. There is, however, the possibility of introducing subtle differences into the end product depending on the destination followed.

When you use the first route described by Rhonda (using Save As to promote a document to template status), then everything in that document is carried along with the promotion. This means that any styles in the original document are saved in the template, any text—including text it is easy to miss, such as in headers and footers—and, possibly, any corruption in the internal pointers maintained by Word.

It is this last possibility that is the most troublesome for the Save As route. The risk may be small, but it is still present and should be considered. That risk is not there if you use Rhonda's second approach. One way to easily see the difference is to take a regular document, strip out all the text and graphics, remove all the macros, and then use Save As to save it as a template. Then, use Rhonda's second approach to create a new, blank template. Get out of Word and compare the file sizes of the two templates. Chances are good that you'll find the template created the first way to have a larger file size than the second template. Why would it be larger? The most likely reason is that the Save As template carries with it behind-the-scenes baggage that the second template does not.

There is a third approach that Ronda doesn't mention, however. This approach minimizes the possibility of the extraneous behind-the-scenes baggage and the risk of corruption but allows you to start with a "known quantity" for your templates. First, open a new document from a clean copy of your Normal template. Use the Organizer to strip everything from the copy that you don't need. (It's a good idea to strip all the styles from the new copy, including trying to delete Microsoft's built-in styles.) Save that "clean" copy as your template. You can then use the Organizer to transfer styles and macros back into the template to get to your end result.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13343) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Saving Money on Printing Labels

Labels can be expensive, and a little common sense will help you waste less money as you try to get your labels to appear ...

Discover More

Figuring Out the Low-Score Winner

Need to figure out the lowest score in a range of scores? Here's the formulas to get the information you need.

Discover More

Can't Copy Data between Workbooks

Edit a group of workbooks at the same time and you probably will find yourself trying to copy information from one of ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Template Changing On Its Own

When you attach a template to a document, you expect that template to stay attached. When you share the document with ...

Discover More

Editing a Template

Editing a template can be as easy as editing a regular Word document, provided you know where to find the templates. Here ...

Discover More

Saving a Preview with Your Template

Templates provide a collection of styles and boilerplate for new documents. Selecting the right template by filename only ...

Discover More
Subscribe

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

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) 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 five more than 2?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


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.

Videos
Subscribe

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.