How to Create Microsoft Word Templates

Make your own Word templates to save time, but plan them out first

Woman Word Processing
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If you frequently create documents that contain the same specialized formatting, but not the same text, automate the process and save yourself a considerable amount of time by creating a template in Word. Examples include invoices, packing slips, and form letters.

Instructions in this article apply to Word 2019, 2016, 2013, and 2010; and Word for Microsoft 365.

What Is a Template?

A Microsoft Word template is a Word document that includes specific formatting, such as boilerplate text, macros, and headers and footers, as well as custom dictionaries, toolbars, and AutoText entries. These elements are there every time you open the template and cannot be changed even when you change the document text. Use the template as many times as you like.

Planning a Word Template

Before you create your Word template, create a list of features you want to include in it. The time you spend planning will save you time and hassle later.

Here are some suggestions for what to include:

  • Text that is always included in the document.
  • Formatting like columns, margins, tab stops, endnotes, and footnotes.
  • Macros to automate tasks.
  • A date field that updates automatically each time the template is opened.
  • Address and contact information.
  • Fields or AutoText for information that changes such as the page number, document title, or file path in headers and footers.
  • Placeholder text with specific formatting such as typeface size. Consider using descriptive words such as TITLE or INTRO as placeholders.

After you've outlined of all your template elements, create the prototype in a blank Word document. Include the elements you listed, and make appropriate adjustments.

Save Your New Template

After you finish creating the prototype for your template, save the document as a template.

  1. Go to File.

  2. Select Save As.

  3. In the Save As dialog box, in the File name text box, type a descriptive template filename.

  4. Select the Save as type dropdown arrow and choose Word Template.

    Microsoft Word Save As dialog box saving a custom template
  5. The file path changes to the default template location. Templates in this folder appear in the Templates dialog box when you create a new document from a template. However, you can choose another folder if you want to.

  6. Select Save.

Your document is now saved as a template with the file extension .dot or .dotx and can be used to generate new documents based on it.

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