How To Create a Template In Word

Templates are used to set the layout of a particular document, for example, you may wish to have a template available for your staff with the appropriate header or footer information. The idea in creating a template, is you create a form that can be used over and over again. In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to set up a business cover letter with contact details in the footer section plus using form fields ready for migration to mail merge. For this exercise, I’m using Word 2016, which is the latest version of Office 365.

Set up the Footer

First you want to set up a blank document and go to the INSERT tab and select FOOTER I’m going to select BLANK FOOTER, as I want to customise it without using one of the preset styles. Select TABLE from the INSERT tab and choose a 2×1 layout Make sure the entire table is selected by clicking and dragging across both cells to highlight them both, or by clicking on the cross in the top left corner of the table. Select the SHADING drop down and select a shade that corresponds with your corporate colours. In this example, I’m choosing a mid-blue. If the shade you require is not shown in the default colour theme palette, select MORE COLOURS from the menu and type in the hex code for the colours required. Adjust the size of the right hand cell, we only need this to be fairly small to include page numbers. While the INSERTION POINT is in the cell on the right hand side, let’s add the page numbers. Click on INSERT -> QUICK PARTS -> FIELD In the dialog box that appears (like this one above) select the word PAGE in the panel on the left hand side, choose the default format style – if you are using roman numerals or normal. Ensure the PRESERVE FORMATTNG box is ticked and click ok. Type the word OF and add a space. Return to the FIELD dialogue box and click NUMPAGES, select the appropriate formatting options and click ok. In this example, I want the table to appear to be seamless between the two cells, that is, I do not want any lines or borders between the cell on the left and right. To do this select the entire table, the TABLE TOOLS content sensitive menu should now appear. Select DESIGN -> BORDERS -> NO BORDER.   The cell on the left hand side, I’m going to include the contact information. Click in the cell on the left hand side and add your relevant company contact information, formatting as appropriate.

Set up the form fields

  We are now going to use FORM FIELDS to set up the rest of the letter template. Form Fields are found in the Developer tab, if you do not have it already available to you, check your program settings under OPTIONS -> CUSTOMISE RIBBON Add your company details such as
  • Company Name
  • Person who is writing letter
  • Company Postal Address
Use the LINE SPACING TOOL if necessary to adjust the spacing between the lines as required. To access the LINE SPACING TOOL, click the drop down arrow next to the word PARAGRAPH and adjust the spacing as required. Move the INSERSION POINT down TWO (2) lines and add the name and address of your recipients – as this is going to be used for mail merge later on, we will use FORM FIELDS to set up this. The form fields will also direct other users of the template to put the correct information in the correct spots.

Recipients Name and Address

From the DEVELOPER tab in the top menu, select LEGACY FORM FIELDS -> TEXT FIELD. This will put a grey form field into our document. You can click on this form field to directly type over the top. As we want to give an instruction inside this form field, use the cursor keys <- -> to move the INSERTION POINT four places to the inside of this form field making sure you leave space to the LEFT of the form field. Add instructional text so the person using this template later understands what information needs to go in the field for example
  • Name
  • Recipient
Press the ENTER key to move to the next line under the form field and add another form field from the DEVELOPER tab, again add a text field. Move the INSERTION POINT inside the text field using the cursor keys and add informational instructions, such as Company Name. Continue adding form fields as required and informational text for lines such as
  • Street Address
  • Town / City
  • Postcode
Finally, use the LINE SPACING tool to tidy up the lines of text so that they follow on one underneath the other. Move the INSERTION POINT down two lines to set up for the DATE AND TIME.

Insert Date and Time

open INSERT tab. Select DATE AND TIME and the following dialogue box should appear. Select the format for the day and time that suits your company purpose. In this example, I’ve chosen 4 March 2016 (the date of writing). Take particular notice of the UPDATE AUTOMATICALLY box. If this is ticked, any time you open a document created from this template, the date will automatically update to the current date as chosen in this layout – it is best to leave the box UNCHECKED. Click OK to return to your document and move the INSERTION POINT down another two lines.


Now we begin the salutation or opening statement, using another form field as appropriate.

Body of the letter

Ensure there are two lines between the opening salutation and the body of the letter, you may like to include another form field indicating where the body should start.

Closing Salutation

Leave a further two lines after the body of the letter and close with the salutation, Yours faithfully. Follow this with a minimum of three lines to allow room for signature and add the name of the person from whom the letter will be written, such as your name and position within the company.   Use the line spacing tool to adjust the paragraphs as required.

Completed Template

We have now set out a basic letter, it should look similar to this (I changed the layout of the table to have three columns, in 1 row. The first and second columns have a black background while the third column remained a mid-blue).    

Save as a Template

Now that we have set out the document to contain the layout and colours we chose, we can save it as a template for future use. Click on the FILE menu and choose SAVE AS. In the document save type box, click the drop down arrow and select Word Template (*docx). Select the folder you wish to save the template. If you are setting up your own business documents, I recommend you keep a folder in your documents folder just for your business information and include a TEMPLATES folder inside your business folder to store all your templates. Give the document an appropriate name and click the save button. Check the title bar of your document has updated to reflect the name of your document and close the document. Open the folder containing the document you just created. Double check that Word has saved it correctly as a template. It should have a blue bar across the top of the icon. If it has not saved correctly, you can re-open the document from within the folder and try again.

Creating a document from the Template

If all has gone as planned you should now have a template you can use over and over again, with text that allows other users to know what information is to go in what position. Open your Templates folder and double click on the template to open a NEW document based on that template. To add the information, simply click the appropriate form field to select it and type over the top. You will notice that as the size of your document increases, the number of pages will automatically update.   Have a try making your own template for fun or for business use. This is just one of the topics covered in our Advanced Office course.

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