Microsoft Word Templates
University of Virginia
Information Technology and Communication
John C. Hill
Table of Contents


Where do we start?

To use templates that have already been created

Creating A New Template Based on an Existing Template

Saving Templates

How to Edit the Normal Template

For simple font changes

For simple page formatting

For other changes, you may have to open the Normal template


Where to next?

How to get help:



With the introduction of personal computers and word processing software, you have been able to create documents with more efficiency and greater variations of style. Often though, your work is repetitious, requiring you to perform the same task over and over again. You may also be tasked with creating documents for publication or to be used by others in the office. How to accomplish these tasks with greater efficiency has been explored in many areas.

Microsoft Word templates are one of the tools you can use to further increase your efficiency, productivity, and consistency when creating documents. A template is a blueprint for the text, graphics and formatting of a document. To put this into context, think of a blueprint for building a house. The blueprint includes the size of every room, the location of the stairwells, and how the house fits on the plot of land. It can also include where the wiring and the plumbing will go. If you didn't have this blueprint you wouldn't know how to build the house. The same concept applies to building a document.

Every document created in Microsoft Word is based on a blueprint or template. When you create a new document, you don't have to do anything to get this template, it is automatic, its called the Normal template or "" (dot is the three-character extension for templates).

If you didn't have this template, you would have to create the blueprint before you created the document; this is not the most efficient way to work. Here are some of the template options with examples that you would have to choose for each new document:
Character Formatting:
Paragraph Formatting:
Page Layout:
Font = Times New Roman Alignment = left Margins = 1" top, bottom, left, right
Size = 12 Indenting = .5" Paper size = 81/2 by 11"
Style (not to be confused with the template) = Normal Line Spacing = single Orientation = portrait
Color = automatic    
Bold, Italics, Underline    
Even as you start a new document, Microsoft Word is trying to save you time and effort by building that new document based on the Normal template. The Normal template can be modified to suit your needs or you can create your own templates. Microsoft Word also provides a number of useful templates that are ready to be used or that can be modified for your preferences.


Where do we start?

The next section of the document will detail how to use the various options of Microsoft Word templates. It will begin with the templates that have already been created and are ready to use. It will then show you how to edit the existing templates to suit your needs. You will then be instructed how to save your templates. It will continue with how to create your own templates from scratch. Finally, you will learn how to modify the Normal template.


NOTE: This document will not describe how to perform character and paragraph formatting or the use of graphics. Refer to your Microsoft Word manual or see the end of this document for more information.



To use templates that have already been created

  1. Select File.
  2. Select New.
  3. The New dialogue box will appear. 
    1. Notice the tabs at the top of the window. These represent the categories of templates and Wizards that Microsoft Word has provided for you.
    2. Select the tab to open the desired category.
    3. Double click on the desired template to open.


      Single click then select the [OK] button.

    5. The template will open as a new, unsaved document. Proceed to edit and save the new document.
To help you decide which template may be best for you, you can view samples of the templates in the Style Gallery.
  1. Select Format.
  2. Select Style Gallery.
  3. The Style Gallery dialogue box will appear. 
    1. Under the Preview section, you can select Document to view how the current document (if one is open) will look with the selected style, or you can select Example to view how a sample Microsoft Word document will appear.
    2. Select the [OK] button to apply the template to the document. Select the [Cancel] button to return to the document.


Creating A New Template Based on an Existing Template.

  1. Simply open the desired template as a new document (see section "To use templates that have already been created").
  2. Make the desired changes.
  3. Save it as a template.


Saving Templates.

  1. Open or create the document to be saved as a template.
  2. Select File.
  3. Select Save As.
  4. The Save As dialogue box will appear. 
    1. In the "Save as type" drop down list, select "Document Template"
      1. You will notice that in the "Save In" drop down list, the Templates folder is automatically selected. You may change this if desired. Most likely, you will want to accept the default location. This is the location where all of the default templates (the ones that shipped with the current version of the software) reside. When you attempt to create a new document based on a template, this is the default location where you will be prompted to choose the desired template.
    2. Provide a descriptive name in the "File name" text box.
    3. Select the [Save] button when complete. The template will be saved in the chosen location with the three-character extension of "dot".


How to Edit the Normal Template.

There are a number of ways to edit the Normal template. Depending on what you want to change, you have the option of using menu bar options or you may open and edit the Normal template.



For simple font changes:

  1. Select Format.
  2. Select Font.
  3. The Font dialogue box will appear.

    1. Make the desired changes.
    2. Select the [Default] button. Default refers to the formatting options that every new document you create will have.
    3. You will be prompted to save your changes to the Normal Template.
    4. Select [Yes] to save the changes.

For simple page formatting:

  1. Select File.
  2. Select Page Setup.
  3. The Page Setup dialogue box will appear.

    1. Make the desired changes.
    2. Select the [Default] button.
    3. You will be prompted to save your changes to the Normal Template
    4. Select [Yes] to save the changes.

For other changes, you may have to open the Normal template.

You will have to locate the Normal template. In most instances, it will be in:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Templates

If you have a network installation with your files stored on a network drive, you may have to search for the Normal template.

  1. Select Start on the task bar.
  2. Go up to Find.
  3. Select Files and Folders.
  4. The Find dialogue box will appear. 
    1. In the "Named" drop down list box, type "" (donít include the quotes).
    2. In the "Look In" drop down list box, choose the network drive to search.
    3. Select the [Find Now] button.
      1. You may have to repeat your search choosing a different network drive.
    4. When the file is found, double click to open it.
    5. Or,

      Note the path of the file location, close the Find dialogue box.

      1. Select File.
      2. Select Open.
        1. Locate the file according the path in step d) above.
        2. Double click on the Normal template.
        3. Or

          Single click then select the [Open] button. The Normal template will open.

          1. Edit as desired.
          2. Select [Save] when complete.


By using templates, you will increase your efficiency and productivity by following a blueprint to help create documents that meet your specific needs. Depending on how much time you have and your knowledge of Microsoft Word, you have the option of using templates that have already been created, modifying the existing templates, or creating your own.


Where to next?

From what we have seen today, graphics add a great visual element to your documents. You may also want to explore how to add forms and fields to your documents. Macros can also be created and run from your templates or added to forms and fields. The ability to design and create templates that add to the automation of document production will greatly increase your efficiency and make you a desired part of any team.



How to get help:
Help desk: 4-3731
Web page:
Consult mail:
Information from Microsoft on the Internet:
Microsoft Word manual