NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, May 2011
Word Templates Can Simplify Your Life
By Nancy DeMarte, Columnist,
Office Talk, Sarasota PCUG, Inc., FL
January 2011 issue, Sarasota PC Monitor

ndemarte (at) Verizon.net (click to email author)

Templates have been a feature of Microsoft Word since the early versions. These pre-formatted documents are offered as time-savers to users who need a quick business letter, resume, agenda, or other document. Each template includes placeholders with instructions for what should be typed there, such as “recipient name.” The user fills in the required information and the document is complete.

I was never a fan of templates. They were too restrictive; I am the do-it-myself type. There was never the right kind of document for my task among the limited choices. And if I could remember to save the template as a document, I was never exactly sure where it was being saved on my computer. With the greatly enhanced improvements to templates in Word 2007 and 2010, I have changed my mind. The template choices now have been expanded to include hundreds of document types, and they are much easier to find and save. Word 2007/2010 users can even edit templates or create their own templates from personal documents.

Using a Template
Word 2007 provides templates from two sources: installed within the Word program and online at the Microsoft website. To view the installed templates, click the Office button (or File button in Word 2010), then New, and then Installed Templates. Here you will find thirty letters, fax cover pages, resumes, and agendas formatted with the new themes of Word 2007. Click one to see its preview, and then click “Create new,” which opens it as a document, leaving the original template intact in its original location. After replacing the placeholder text with your own, save this document to a folder of your choice. Often the placeholder body text includes tips for changing the formatting using the new style and theme galleries in Word 2007.

The online templates offer an impressive number and variety of document types. Accessing these couldn’t be simpler. Click the Office button, then New. Under the heading Microsoft Office Online in the left column, select the category of template you want. Besides the standard letters and resumes, you will find interesting new categories such as calendars, greeting cards, and stationery, which are colorful and professionally formatted. To use the category “Lists” as an example, under the subheading Home are various shopping lists, emergency contacts list, and a travel checklist, to name a few. Other types of lists include Medical (family medical history, medicines and vitamins, etc.) and Menus (illustrated templates for menus to celebrate all kinds of occasions). Merely reading through the forty categories of online templates should inspire anyone to try some.

Once you have chosen a specific template from the online selections, click it to see the preview. Some of these templates have been created by Microsoft; others have been submitted by users. In the preview window you will see the template’s rating (1 – 5 stars) based on user feedback, the file size and estimated download time. If it is a user-created template, it will include license agreement and terms of use links, although these templates have been thoroughly screened. To get an online template, click Download. Almost immediately the template will appear on your screen as a document, with the template stored in My Templates (Office button – New – My Templates) for future use.

An interesting feature of online templates is that many of them contain usable content rather than just formatting suggestions. For example, under the Letters category, the “Apology for Poor Service” letter is an actual apology which could be sent by a business in response to a complaint from a customer. Another letter from the travel letters subheading is “Complaint about Lost Luggage.” For those of us who want to write this letter, but aren’t sure how to word it, this template could save the day.

Customizing a Template
Of course, anything in a template can be modified, even the template itself. To edit an installed template, bring it up in the preview window. Next to “Create new,” select Template instead of Document so that it opens as a template. To edit an online template, download it first, and then save it as a template file type (.dotx). Now you can delete placeholders and replace them with text that will not change, such as your name and address. You can change the font or font size or any other formatting aspect of the template. When done, save it as a template file type with a name that clearly identifies it, such as “Median letter template revised” and be sure it gets stored with other templates in the My Templates folder. In the “Save As” dialog box, choose “Templates” as the saving location. You can always delete templates from the My Templates folder the same way you delete any file.

Create a Template with the Hidden Tab
I have often wished I could create a template from a document that I use regularly. It’s easy with Word 2007. To do this, you will need to reveal a hidden tab on the Ribbon: the Developer tab. Click the Office button, then Word Options. Put a check mark next to “Show Developer tab in the ribbon” and click OK.

First open or create a document that you wish to be the basis for a template. For illustration, let’s say it is a meeting agenda. Decide which areas of the template will change in subsequent uses, such as the date or agenda items. In the Developer tab, you can add a Date Picker from the Controls group. It’s the second icon in the bottom row. This will add a drop down calendar to the template from which to choose a date and gives options for formatting the date. To add a placeholder for a text item, the Controls group includes a Rich Text command (Aa) which will add a placeholder. You can then use the Properties command to add text which describes what should be typed there, such as “Agenda Item 1.” Save your creation as a template (.dotx or .dot) in My Templates as described above. It will be readily available when you need it. Templates can help us do a variety of tasks with Word without the tedium of creating all our documents from scratch. Explore the template choices, and you will surely find some that meet your needs.

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