Microsoft Office: Creating and Using Templates

Microsoft templates are a mystery to a lot of people. Maybe you have found  a way to save a file as a template. You noticed a new type of extension appear at the end of the file… but for the most part you see it behaving the same as a regular office file. So you wonder, what is the big deal with templates? I have to let you in on a secret. The usefulness of template files is all about where they are saved.  And… they can actually be a timesaving lifesaver in a pinch, especially for repetitive work. Let’s explore how templates work in MS Office.

Exercise Files

This process will work the same in Excel, Word and PowerPoint; here are some sample templates to try out for each program:

p.s. This awesome PowerPoint template is available through the Strategic Communications Templates page. I hear that more will be coming soon, so stay tuned!

Open the File

Let’s open one of the files, the Word Template. Let’s say this is a file you had spent a lot of time creating; from selecting a theme and color palette, to tweaking the Styles to creating a dynamic Table of Contents. (More on those options for a future Byte).

Word Template with Themes and palettes

Save As

  1. Go to File and select Save As (or a lot of you know that my favorite shortcut for a quick Save As screen is F12). Location doesn’t matter, because that is about to change when we select type.
  2. In the Save as Type dropdown menu, select Word Template.
    Save As screen with type dropdown
  3. Notice this changes the default location of your save to Custom Office Templates Folder.This is important:  do not change this save location! This is where Word will look for your template.
    Custom Office Templates Folder Location
  4. Press Save.

 Access Your Personal Templates

Let’s test out your new template!

  1. Go to File and select New. You are creating an entirely new Word document, just like you would in the future when starting from scratch.
    File, New screen
  2. At the top of the templates, notice you now have a Personal tab. Press this button.
    Personal Templates button
  3. You should see your new template, the Office Bytes Template. Select this to apply the template to your new Word document.
    Template in the Personal Templates folder

Notice how this brings in not only the content, but all the themes, colors, fonts and styles.

This will work the same way with your PowerPoint and Excel file examples. Give it a try!


Do you have a handy use for templates like this in your office?

Congratulations, Power Users!

Congratulations to our newest Power Users! For the full gallery, and more information about the WSU Microsoft Office Power User Program, please visit:

  • Amy Yonai

Amy Yonai