How to Create a Free Google Sheets Template

Empower your templates in the free version of Google Sheets

Clipart of spreadsheet with diagram.


If you’re a Google Docs power user, chances are you depend upon the spreadsheet tool, Sheets. Sheets is an incredibly powerful, cloud-based spreadsheet tool that enables users to create simple or highly complex spreadsheets. And if you visit the Google Sheets Template Gallery, you’ll find templates for the likes of to-do lists, annual budgets, calendars, planners, and more.

Even with those available templates, power users might find them limiting. If you need more from your templates, and you use the free version of Google Sheets, you’ll very quickly learn it doesn’t allow for the uploading of custom templates into the Gallery.

Fortunately, if you really want to make use of your customized spreadsheet templates in Google’s cloud-powered spreadsheet tool, there’s a way. With a little bit of work and creativity, you can flex your template muscles, even in the free version of Google’s tool.

What You’ll Need to Create a Google Sheets Template

Screenshot of the Google Sheets Template Gallery.

The only thing you must have is a Google account and a few custom spreadsheet templates to work with. It doesn’t matter what tool you use to create those custom templates, as long as you can copy and paste the content of those templates. In other words, you could create your templates from within Google Sheets itself, or create them locally with a tool like LibreOffice or MS Office.

If you have created the templates with a local application, it’s important that you do not upload those template files to Google Drive (unless you’re okay with then converting them to the default Google format). You can, however, create the template files in Google Drive. If you go that route, you’ll only need to open the files, so you can copy and paste the content into a new, Google Sheets document.

Screenshot of renaming a Google Sheets Template.

You could also modify one of the available templates within the templates directory.

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

  2. Edit the template to suit your needs.

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

  4. Close the file.

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

Create a Templates Folder

Screenshot of creating a new folder in Google Drive.

Now that you've made your first template, it's time to create a home for it.

  1. Sign into your Google account and go to Google Drive. Make sure you’re in the root folder (that is, the top-most folder and not a subfolder).

  2. From within that directory, click New and select Folder. Name this new directory something you'll associate with your templates. In our example we used SPREADSHEET TEMPLATES.

    Screenshot of naming a new folder in Google Drive.
  3. When you're done naming the directory, click CREATE.

    If you’ve created any new spreadsheet templates from the Google Sheets Template Gallery, you’ll want to click and drag them into the newly created SPREADSHEET TEMPLATES folder.

  4. Once you’ve done that, navigate into the newly created folder by double-clicking it.

Adding Templates

The next step is to add your custom templates to the newly created folder.

Screenshot of creating a new Spreadsheet in Google Drive.
  1. Navigate to templates folder you created in the steps above. In our case it's the SPREADSHEET TEMPLATES folder.

  2. Click the New and select Google Sheets. This will create an empty Spreadsheet file, where you’ll copy the content from your custom template.

  3. Open your custom template, created by your local application (such as MS Office or LibreOffice). With that custom spreadsheet open, select the entire contents of the template by simultaneously typing Ctrl + A on your keyboard. Next copy the selected text by simultaneously typing Ctrl + C.

  4. Go back to newly created empty Google Spreadsheet and paste the content of your custom template by simultaneously typing Ctrl + V.

  5. Rename the new template (in the same way you did earlier).

Your new spreadsheet template is ready to use.

If you click on New in Google Drive and then click Google Sheets, you'll notice a From a template entry. All that menu entry does is serve as a link to the Google Sheets Template Gallery. This does not allow you either upload templates or create a blank template.

Using Your Custom Templates

This is where it gets slightly tricky. You’d think you could simply open the newly created template and get to work. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. If you open the original template, and edit its contents, you no longer have that original, custom template to work with.

Screenshot of making a copy of a Google Sheets Template.

Here's how to use a template:

  1. Navigate into your SPREADSHEET TEMPLATES folder.

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

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

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