How to Create a Free Google Docs Template

Empower your templates in the free version of Google Docs

An image of a computer generating a file.

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Templates are a way to make your productivity life much easier. Instead of having to create the same document over and over, you can instead use a template and fill in the necessary information. Google Docs has a good amount of available templates that range from resumes, to letters, to project proposals, and more. But what happens if you want to use your own customized template? If you’re using the paid version of Google Docs, you can do that. But with the free version, the Templates tool doesn’t allow for the uploading of custom templates. What do you do? With a bit of creativity, you can easily make use of your own customized templates. Here’s how.

What You’ll Need to Create a Google Docs Template

A screenshot of the Google Docs Template Gallery.

The only thing you must have is a Google account and a few custom templates to work with. What tool you use to create those templates doesn’t matter, as long as you can copy and paste the template content. This means you could create your templates from within Google Docs itself, or create them locally with a tool like LibreOffice. If you have created the templates with a local application, it’s important that you do not upload those template files to Google Drive. If you create the template files in Google Drive, you’ll only need to open the files, so you can copy and paste the content.

You could also make use of one of the available templates within the Google Docs Templates Gallery. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Open one of the templates from the Google Docs Template Gallery.

  2. Edit the template to suit your needs.

  3. Rename the template by clicking the current name (in the top left corner) and typing a new name.

  4. Use Enter/Return (on keyboard) to save the name.

  5. Close the file.

    A screenshot of an open Google Docs template file.

After closing the modified template file, it will automatically be saved in the main directory of Google Drive.

Before you move on, it’s time to get a bit organized.

Create a Templates Folder

A screenshot of Google Drive.

The first thing to do is create a folder to house the templates. Sign into your Google account and go to Google Drive. Make sure you’re in the root folder (not a subfolder). From within that directory, click New and select Folder. Name this new directory TEMPLATES and click CREATE.

A screenshot of naming a newly created Google Drive folder.

If you’ve created any new templates from the Google Template Gallery, you’ll want to click and drag them into the newly created TEMPLATES folder. Once you’ve done that, navigate into the newly created folder by double-clicking it.

Adding Templates

A screenshot of creating an empty Google Doc.

It’s time to add your custom templates to the newly created folder. In the TEMPLATES folder, click New and select Google Docs. This will create an empty Docs file. Next, open the template to be added with your local application (such as MS Office or LibreOffice). With that file open, select the entire contents of the template by simultaneously typing Ctrl + A. Next copy the selected text by simultaneously typing Ctrl + C.

Go back to your empty Google Doc and paste the template contents by simultaneously typing Ctrl + V. With the content pasted, rename the new template (in the same way you did earlier).

Congratulations, you now have a new template to use.

Using Your Custom Templates

Screenshot of making a copy of a Google Drive document.

You might think using your newly added templates is as simple as opening one and filling in the necessary blanks. That’s not the case. Instead, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate into your TEMPLATES folder.

  2. Right-click the template you want to work with.

    Screenshot of a newly copied file in Google Docs.

    Click Make a copy. This will create a copy of the template you want to use. The new document will appear in the TEMPLATES folder and the filename will start with Copy of.

  3. Right click the file name and then click Rename. Give the document a unique name and you can then open it and begin adding content. Since you made a copy of the original document template, the template is still intact and can be copied as many times as needed.