If you have a document that you need to reuse and to edit, then it’s usually a good idea to create that document as a template. When you create a word document as template, it will have the look, settings and styling of your original, but will open it as a new file, prompting you to save the new document in a different location, rather than overwriting the existing one. This has the benefit of making sure that your source file is always accurate and avoids accidental changes to it.

It is possible to use any document that you have already created by simply saving it as a template. To do this:

  • Open your document and click Flie > Save As
  • From the Save As dialogue box click “Save as type” drop down list and select Document Template(*.dot), as in the image below
  • Give your template a name and click Save

Word Template (1)

There are a couple of flaws with this method though as you should remember that this template will replicate anything in the original document, such as customised styling, bits you meant to delete but didn’t, tweaks that you have made to the content but not updated the style headings etc. These will all be transferred to the new document making it messy and more time consuming to use the templates. It’s for this reason that I prefer to use a blank document to create my template and take some time to make sure the styling and settings are consistent.

In my opinion, even If you already have a file that is formatted the way that you need it, it’s always better to start afresh and use the styles and settings to make sure the end documents will be consistent every time.

(Note: if you aren’t familiar with using paragraph settings and style settings in Microsoft Word then it’s worth reading up about those too)

In this example we are using a confidentiality agreement. To start, open up a new instance of word

  • Go to file > new > my templatesWord Template (2)
  • Select ‘blank document
  • Choose the ‘template‘ option
  • Click ok

Word Template (3)

This will open up a blank document for you to set up however you wish. Remember to make use of the built in functions of Word, such as the styling options. When you are happy with the design and styling, you can save the document in the usual way:

Click file > save as

(Note: At this point, take particular note of where your template file is stored as these are set to be saved by default to the Microsoft Templates folder rather than the usual ‘my documents’ folder. File paths vary according to your operating systems and version of windows, but in this case you can see they are stored in Computer\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates)

Word Template (4)

From the “save as type” box, choose ‘word template
Give your file a name and click ok

Word Template (5)

Your document is now saved as a template.

To access your template is simple:

  • Just open up a new Microsoft Word document then click File > New > My Templates as we did when we were creating the template
  • Here you will see all templates that you have saved in the Microsoft/Templates folder
  • Simply select the template you would like to use, choose whether you would like to open it as a new document, or as a template, then click ok

You will notice that rather than opening the template you created, Word opens a new document that looks the same, but this is actually a new Word Document and not a new template. You can tell whether your file is a document or a template by the file extension. All word documents are saved as (*.doc) whilst templates are saved as (*.dot)