A template is a sample document that is used for the basis for a new document.
A template determines the basic structure for a document and contains document specific settings such as fonts, styles, page layout, macros etc.
When you create a document the file that is created initially is just a copy of its template.
A word template has the file extension (".dot") and every document is based on a template.
When you save a document as a Word template the three-letter extension of ".dot" is added to the end of the name instead of ".doc".

What are the advantages of using a Template ?

The main advantage of using a template is clearly evident if you create the same document on a regular basis.
Templates do not only reduce the time taken to create a new document but also let you create custom editing environments for specifc documents.
The more information you can add to your templates the less you have to add to your documents.

What can a Template include ?

Anything you can put into a document, you can also put into a template.
Styles - These will stay with the document even if the attached template cannot be found.
AutoText - Documents created from templates containing AutoText entries will not be copied to the document.
Macros - These are available as long as the attached template can be found.
Custom Toolbars - These are available as long as the attached template can be found.

Different Types of Templates

Word recognises five different types of template although one of these is used internally.
Normal.dotm - This is loaded automatically whenever Word is opened.
User Templates - These can be loaded manually.
Workgroup Templates - These can be loaded manually.
Global Templates - These load automatically whenever Word is open and must be saved in your startup folder.
Non file based templates - These are special templates which are used internally by Word and cannot be used or changed by the user.
If Normal.dotm appears in more than one place - which one takes precedence ?

Template Locations

You can actually define completely different locations for your Word templates.
Workgroup templates do not have to be on a network or shared drive.
Each subfolder in either of those directories will create a new tab providing it contains at least one .dot (or .wiz) file
Templates that appear in either of the top level folders will appear on the General tab.
If you want to make sure that a particular template appears at the beginning prefix it with an underscore.

Blank Document

The default blank document which a lot of poeple use is based on the Normal template.
If you do not explicitly select a template then your new document will be based on the default template "Normal.dotm"
Once you have created a document based on a template any further changes to the template are not propagated down to the documents created from that template.
Word copies all the text and styles from a template and puts them into the document. It does not copy any macros from the template.
When you open an existing document or switch focus to another document, Word automatically retrieves the attached template which the document is based on and puts the toolbars, menus, keyboard shortcuts, macros into effect.

Using Templates

Most connections between a document and its template are broken immediately after the document is created.
This means that you can make changes to your templates without affecting existing documents
When you add a template using the (Tools > Templates and Addins) dialog box this template will not be loaded the next time you open Word.
If you want the template to always be loaded you must place it in the startup folder so it can be considered a global template.

Opening a Template

You can open a template, select (File > Open) and browse to the corresponding folder.
If you double click the file from outside Word then a document will be created from the template, rather than the actual template being opened.


(File Locations, User Templates) - The folder path that Word will default to when you save a Word document as a template.
(File Locations, Workgroup Templates) - The folder path that contains all your workgroup templates.
(Save, Prompt to save Normal template - Displays a message each time you quit Word that asks you if you want to save any changes made to this template.

Copy AutoText entries to another template

On the Tools menu, click Templates and Add-Ins.
Click Organizer, and then click the AutoText tab.
To copy items to or from a different template, click Close File to close the active document and its attached template or to close the Normal template. Then click Open File, and open the template you want.
Click the items you want to copy in either list, and then click Copy.

Modify a Document Template

When you modify a template, it will affect new documents that you create based on the template. The content of existing documents is not affected by changes you make to the templates they're based on.
On the File menu, click Open, and then locate and open the template you want to modify.
If there aren't any templates listed in the Open dialog box, click Document Templates in the Files of type box.
Change any of the template's text and graphics, styles, formatting, macros, AutoText entries, toolbars, menu settings, and shortcut keys
On the Standard toolbar, click Save
Microsoft Word will update modified styles when you open an existing document only if the Automatically update document styles option is turned on. Set this option before you open an existing document by clicking Templates and Add-Ins on the Tools menu.
You can also save a template as a document or Web page

Project is Unviewable

If you have macros stored in a global template these macros will not be viewable when the template is loaded.

Copy custom toolbars to another document or template

On the Tools menu, click Templates and Add-Ins.
Click Organizer, and then click the Toolbars tab.
To copy items to or from a different template or file, click Close File to close the active document and its attached template or to close the Normal template. Then click Open File, and open the template or file you want.
Click the items you want to copy in either list, and then click Copy.

DefaultLanguage.dot - ??

Linking Style Sheets

Click this button to go to the Linked CSS Style Sheets dialog box. CSS Style Sheets allow HTML authors to attach multiple external style sheets to their HTML documents.

Template Hierarchy

So, we have attached templates, global templates, and Normal.dotm. What happens if there are conflicts (two Autotext entries or macros with the same name, etc.)? They defer to each other according to rules set by Microsoft (but not very easy to discover).

1. First, look in the document. Any macros or styles in the document will be used in preference to others. Any toolbar modifications stored in the document will trump those elsewhere. (If the document and a template both have toolbars with the same name, though, they will both be available when the document is active.)
2. Next, check the attached template. Any macros in the template will take priority over any except those of the same name in the document. Any styles added to the template or changed in the template after the document was created will be available to the document by updating styles.
3. Then check Normal.dot. All styles in Normal.dotm are available to all documents except those already in the document. (Normal.dot has many more styles than are ever used in one document.)
4. Finally, check other global templates and add-ins. Again, these do not contribute styles to documents but all macros, toolbars and Autotext entries are available from a global template. If there is a macro with the same name in Normal.dotm, the attached template, or the document, as the name in any other global template, the macro in the global template will not be used (except for an AutoExec macro). If there are multiple global template, they are checked in alphabetical order.

Using a Web Server

You could alternatively store your templates on a web server.
(File > New)
Select "On my web sites"
The New from Templates on my web sites dialog box opens
Click "create new folder" and create a shortcut to the necessary folder
You can save files there in the usual way using (File > Save As)


Every document has a template attached to it. This can be changed from (Tools > Templates and Addins)(Attach button)
It is not this extension that makes it a template so changing a file extension will not change a document into a template or a template into a document.
Any templates that are saved in the templates folder will automatically appear on the General tab on the (File > New) dialog box.
Don't double click templates from emails. This will create duplicates and if the template already exists in this folder it be automatically renamed to TemplateName(2).dot

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