How to Create and Use Microsoft Word Templates

Open, use, and create templates using any edition of Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word templates
Template options in Microsoft Word.

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A template is a Microsoft Word document that already has some formatting in place, such as fonts, logos, and line spacing, and can be used as a starting point for almost anything you want to create. Microsoft Word offers hundreds of free templates, including invoices, resumes, invitations, and form letters, among others.

Templates are available in all recent editions of Word, including Word 2003, Word 2007, Word 2010, Word 2013, Word 2016, and in Word Online from Office 365. You’ll learn how to work with all of these editions here. The images in this article are from Word 2016.

How to Open a Word Template

Microsoft Word templates

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To use a template, you have to access a list of them and choose one to open first. How you do this differs depending on the version/edition of Microsoft Word you have.

To open a template in Word 2003:

  1. Click File, then click New.
  2. Click Templates.
  3. Click On My Computer.
  4. Click any category.
  5. Click the template to use and click OK.

To open a template in Word 2007:

  1. Click the Microsoft button in the top left corner and click Open.
  2. Click Trusted Templates.
  3. Select the desired template and click Open.

To open a template in Word 2010:

  1. Click File, then click New.
  2. Click Sample Templates, Recent Templates, My Templates, or Office.com Templates.
  3. Click the template to use and click Create.

To open a template in Word 2013:

  1. Click File, then click New.
  2. Click either Personal or Featured.
  3. Select the template to use.
  1. Click File, then click New.
  2. Click a template and click Create.
  3. To search for a template, type the description of the template in the Search window and press Enter on the keyboard. Then click the template and click Create.

To open a template in Word Online:

  1. Log in to Office 365.
  2. Click the Word icon.
  3. Select any template.

How to Use a Word Template

Using Microsoft Word Template

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Once a template is open, it doesn’t matter what version of Word you use, you simply begin typing where you’d like to add information. You might have to type over existing placeholder text, or, there might be a blank area where you can insert text. You can also add pictures where picture holders exist.

Here’s a practice example:

  1. Open any template as outlined above.
  2. Click any placeholder text, such as Event Title or Event Subtitle.
  3. Type the desired replacement text.
  4. Repeat until your document is complete. 

How to Save a Word Template as a Document

Saving a template

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When you save a document you’ve created from a template, you need to make sure you save it as a Word document with a new name. You don’t want to save over the template because you don’t want to change the template; you want to leave the template as-is.

To save the template you’ve worked on as a new document in:

Microsoft Word 2003, 2010, or 2013:

  1. Click File, and then click Save As.
  2. In the Save As dialog box, type a name for the file.
  3. In the Save As Type list, choose the type of file. For regular documents consider the .doc entry.
  4. Click Save.

Microsoft Word 2007:

  1. Click the Microsoft button, and then click Save As.
  2. In the Save As dialog box, type a name for the file.
  3. In the Save As Type list, choose the type of file. For regular documents consider the .doc entry.
  4. Click Save.

Microsoft Word 2016:

  1. Click File, and then click Save a Copy.
  2. Type a name for the file.
  3. Choose a document type; consider the .docx entry.
  4. Click Save.

Office 365 (Word Online):

  1. Click in the document name at the top of the page.
  2. Type a new name.

How to Create a Word Template

A screen shot of the Save A Copy area of Word 2016 with Word Template selected.

Screenshot/Joli Ballew

To create your own Word template, create a new document and format it however you like. You might want to add business name and address, a logo, and other entries. You can also choose specific fonts, font sizes, and font colors.

Once you have the document the way you want it, to save it as a template:

  1. Follow the instructions above to save the file.
  2. Before you save the file, in the available Save As Type drop down list, select Template.