MS Word templates: how to use someone else's template
o Fixed Normal.dotm description, regarding its use as a global and document template
o Added rationale for using Word's default Normal.dotm.
● 05/16/22: initial version
This document describes how to use a Word template on your
computer, when the template was provided by someone else.
This document addresses a use-case that I recently encountered. My Word configuration is customized with my own styles and macros. A publisher provided a template for me to use in writing a book. (This template will be referred to as the provided-template.) The present document describes how I re-configured Word to use my customizations, in conjunction with the provided-template. Also described is how I switch between using my usual Word configuration, and using the provided-template.
My Word customizations consisted of styles, macros (including VBA programs), and keyboard shortcuts. These customizations were stored in Normal.dotm, Word's default template. To use the provided-template, I moved my Word customizations from Normal.dotm and put them in two templates I created. The rationale for this solution is described.
In order to use my Word configuration and the provided-template,
I had to learn some template-related concepts and some processes for working
with templates. Those concepts and processes are described.
Using the provided-template also involved changing Word's AutoCorrect settings, so I needed a way to switch between those settings and the ones I usually use. The process of switching between Word settings, such as AutoCorrect, is also described.
The instructions presented here were developed on my system: Word for Microsoft 365 (Version 2204), and Windows 10. They are the current versions as of May 2022. I expect these instructions will work on older systems. Though, the file-locations for Word's templates depends on the Word and Windows version.
In the present document's web-page, user comments can be entered at the bottom of the page. Feedback and questions are welcomed. The copyright is also at the bottom of the page.
Templates are described in Kenyon's tutorial [Ken22] as:
Templates are a special type of Word file that can hold text, styles, macros, keyboard shortcuts, custom toolbars, QAT and Ribbon modifications, and Building Blocks including AutoText entries for use in other documents.
This is different from the standard English-language term "template" although derived from that term. It is jargon.
A document created using a template will have access to all of these features and a large part of your job in creating a new document will be done for you if your templates are well thought out.
Word has a special template-file Normal.dotm. It is used by default,
for all documents, and it is stored in Word's "User
Templates Folder". That folder's location is usually at:
A new Word document can be created by clicking on the New button, or by clicking on File:New. If "Blank Document" is selected, the document created is based on the Normal.dotm template.
Word provides a default Normal.dotm. The user can alter that default template by adding his own styles and macros, which is what I had done earlier to customize Word.
The present document omits some tutorial-info about templates, and some details. If needed, that info can be found via Google. The appendix has links to tutorials and reference-documents. Kenyon's tutorial was very helpful [Ken22].
For years I used Normal.dotm to customize my Word configuration, with
modified styles, macros, and keyboard shortcuts. However, I recently
discovered that putting these Word features in Normal.dotm is problematic when other templates
are also used, such as provided templates.
One solution for that problem is to use Word's default Normal.dotm, and put those Word customizations in other templates. That solution is recommended in an article at the TechRepublic web-site [Har16], and a similar solution is recommended in an article at The Word MVP Site [Rad]. The present document describes how to implement that solution.
However, when using provided-templates, there are cases in which customized Word-configurations might reasonably be left in Normal.dotm. Analysis those cases is complex, and beyond the scope of the present document. In my assessment, the solution of using Word's default Normal.dotm is conceptually simpler and less problematic, in most cases.
This section describes how I configured my computer to be able to use a provided-template.
For any Word document, the Normal.dotm template is always available. Which parts of the template are available depends on whether Normal.dotm is being used as a document-template or a global-template. These two types of templates are described later.
When using a provided-template, it can be problematic if Normal.dotm has its own customizations. For example, a document's available macros and styles can include those from the provided-template and from Normal.dotm. One solution is to just use Word's default Normal.dotm, which is what I did.
To create Word's default Normal.dotm:
● Save the customized Normal.dotm by renaming it, e.g., to Normal-old.dotm
o In the next step, those customizations will be put in two new templates.
● Now, when Word opens it will not find a Normal.dotm file. Create and save a Word document, and Word will generate a default Normal.dotm.
I created two new templates to hold the Word customizations
I previously had in Normal.dotm.
One template contains the Word macros that I created (including VBA code), as well as the keyboard shortcuts I defined. I named this template: jy--standard-macros-and-keyboard-shortcuts.dotm
The other template contains all of the other Word customizations I had created, which were primarily styles. I named this template: jy--standard-template.dotm
The name prefix "jy--" is my initials, and it helps
differentiate my templates from provided-templates.
The following instructions show how I created those two templates. Of course, your templates would have the names you've chosen.
How I created jy--standard-macros-and-keyboard-shortcuts.dotm
● I created a new blank document, using Word's default Normal.dotm
o File : New : Blank document
● I saved the document as a template, by selecting file-type .dotm.
o I named it jy--standard-macros-and-keyboard-shortcuts.dotm
● Keep the template open.
How I copied the macros from Normal-old.dotm to jy--standard-macros-and-keyboard-shortcuts.dotm:
● I opened the old Normal.dotm template file, i.e., Normal-old.dotm.
o The template file is opened via File Explorer: right-click : Open
o Do not double-lick on the template file. That will create a new Word document based on the template.
o Make-sure the opened template file is Normal-old.dotm, not Normal-old.docx
● I used the template Organizer to copy the macros from Normal-old.dotm to jy--standard-macros-and-keyboard-shortcuts.dotm:
o Open the Organizer
■ Developer tab : Document Template : Organizer
o In the left pane, open Normal-old.dotm
o In the right pane, open jy--standard-macros-and-keyboard-shortcuts.dotm
o Select the tab "Macro Project Items"
o Select and copy the macro modules from Normal-old.dotm to jy--standard-macros-and-keyboard-shortcuts.dotm
● I renamed my macros to have the prefix "jy--", to avoid name conflicts with macros in provided-templates
o Open the MS VBA editor: Alt+F11
o In jy--standard-macros-and-keyboard-shortcuts.dotm, each macro module was opened. The prefix was added to each macro, e.g.,
■ "Sub highlight_gray()" was changed to "Sub jy--highlight_gray()"
● I saved jy--standard-macros-and-keyboard-shortcuts.dotm, but kept it open
How I copied my keyboard-shortcuts from Normal-old.dotm to jy--standard-macros-and-keyboard-shortcuts.dotm:
● My keyboard-shortcuts run macros and Word commands. There does not appear to be any tools for copying the keyboard-shortcuts for the macros, especially since the templates used have different names and the macros were renamed.
● I used a tool that listed the keyboard-shortcuts in Normal-old.dotm, and I took a screen-shot of them. Then, I manually created comparable keyboard-shortcuts in jy--standard-macros-and-keyboard-shortcuts.dotm.
● Tools for listing keyboard-shortcuts can be found here:
● From that web-page, I used "Method 3: Use Chris Woodman's Keyboard Shortcut Organizer". There may be simpler methods. I couldn't get that tool to copy the keyboard-shortcuts, but it did list them.
How I deployed jy--standard-macros-and-keyboard-shortcuts.dotm:
● That template contains macros and keyboard-shortcuts, and they make Word easier to use. They are intended to be used with other templates, including jy--standard-template.dotm, and with typical provided-templates.
● To deploy jy--standard-macros-and-keyboard-shortcuts.dotm in this manner, I put a copy of it in the Word startup folder. This way, the template's macros and keyboard-shortcuts will be available whenever Word is opened, and they will be available in addition to any other templates being used.
● This web-page describes how to find the Word startup folder:
● A template that is put in the Word startup folder is treated as a global template. Global templates are described in Kenyon's tutorial, in the section "Global templates - very different from document templates" [Ken22].
● When a Word document is opened, any templates specified in the Word startup folder are loaded with the document. Later sections provide more info about global templates and how they can be loaded and unloaded. Unloading a global template can be necessary if it conflicts with a provided template, e.g., when their keyboard shortcuts conflict.
The template jy--standard-template.dotm has the contents of Normal-old.dotm, but without the macros and keyboard-shortcuts.
How I created jy--standard-template.dotm:
● First, I made a copy of Normal-old.dotm, and I named the copy jy--standard-template.dotm.
● Next, I deleted the macros in jy--standard-template.dotm:
o Open the template via File Explorer: right-click : Open
o Open the MS VBA editor: Alt+F11
o Using that editor, in jy--standard-template.dotm, delete the modules containing macros.
● Next, delete the keyboard-shortcuts in jy--standard-template.dotm.
o When the macros were deleted, keyboard-shortcuts to them would also be deleted.
o The keyboard-shortcuts for Word commands can be deleted manually.
■ In the Customize Keyboard dialog, to find a command, use the Categories box and select "All Commands".
How I deployed jy--standard-template.dotm:
● I put a copy of the template in the "Custom Office Templates Folder". This is Word's standard location for the Word-user's templates. Kenyon's tutorial has more information on this folder, including its location (see the section "Custom Office Templates Folder") [Ken22]. On my computer, the folder is: "Documents/Custom Office Templates".
● In Word, when the user creates a new document, the folder "Custom Office Templates Folder" is presented. In the folder, jy--standard-template.dotm can be selected. In the new document, that template will be available as a document-template. The templates jy--standard-macros-and-keyboard-shortcuts.dotm and Normal.dotm will also be available, as global-templates.
For a Word document's template, what parts of the template are available depends on whether the template is a document template or a global template. Also, what parts of the template are available depends on whether the template is still accessible, and what parts of the template have been copied to the document.
Global templates were mentioned earlier. A document-template is apparently any template that is not a global-template. One of the main differences between these template-types is that a global-template's styles are not available to the document, whereas they are for document-templates. For both document-templates and global-templates, the template's macros are available to the document. Apparently, any template can be used as a global-template or a document-template. The difference between these template-types is what parts of the template are available to the document..
For a Word document's templates, whether a template is a global-template or a document-template depends on how the template was selected. For instance:
● When a Word document is created, a document-template is selected, either Normal.dotm or some other template.
● For an existing Word document, a document-template can be "attached" to the document via the Document Template tool (described later).
● A global-template can be selected by putting it in the Word startup folder, or by "loading" it via the Document Template tool.
Normal.dotm can be a document-template or a global-template, depending on how it is selected.
● When a Word document is crated and a blank document is selected, Normal.dotm is treated as a document template.
● When a Word document is created and a template other than Normal.dotm is selected, Normal.dotm is treated as a global template.
A partial list of what is copied from a Word-document's templates, to the document:
● When a document is created, a document-template is assigned to the document, and its styles are copied to the document.
● When a document-template is attached to a document, the user specifies whether the styles should be copied to the document.
● For global templates, their styles are not copied to the document.
● For any template used by the document, its macros do not get copied to the document.
When an existing Word document is opened, its templates may no longer be available, e.g., they could have been be deleted. For templates that are no longer available, any template-contents that were not copied to the document will no longer be available, e.g., macros.
Kenyon's tutorial has more information, in these sections [Ken22]:
● "Creating a document from a document template - the attached template"
● "Global templates - very different from document templates"
(Kenyon's tutorial seems to say that when Normal.dotm is a global template, its styles are available to the document. I don't think this is correct.)
Two ways of using a provided-template are described here,
assuming it is a document-template.
The best way is to put the provided-template in the "Workgroup Templates Folder", then specify the provided-template when creating a new document:
● Kenyon's tutorial describes how to configure Word to use the folder (see the section "Workgroup Templates Folder") [Ken22].
● When a new Word document is created, that folder will be presented, and the provided-template can be selected. In the new document, that provided-template will be available as a document-template. The templates jy--standard-macros-and-keyboard-shortcuts.dotm and Normal.dotm will also be available, as global templates.
Another way to use a provided-template is to create a new Word-document using Word's default Normal.dotm template, then attach the provided-template. However, for the provided-template, not all types of template-features will be available to the document. Though, the macros and keyboard shortcuts will be available, and the styles can be copied to the document, if selected.
● Create a new Word document and select "Blank document" to use the Normal.dotm template.
● In the Developer tab, use the Document Template tab to attach the provided-template
o If the Developer tab isn't present, it will need to be added.
● More info on attaching a template is described in Kenyan's tutorial, in the section "Attaching a different template" [Ken22].
A provided-template can be attached to any existing document, using the process just described. Only one template can be attached to a document.
As described earlier, a global template is a specific type of template, and Word uses it differently than a document template. The primary difference between these two template types is which parts of the template are used, e.g., in a global template, any styles specified are not used in the document.
Word provides a way to add global templates to a document. It's done by using the Developer tab, and its Document Template tab. Global templates are specified under the Template tab, in the section "Global templates and add-ins".
● The list-box specifies global-templates.
● Templates can be added to the list by specifying their file-path.
● Templates in the list can be loaded. Loaded templates are available to the document.
● For each template, the check-box indicates whether the template is loaded.
● To load a template, check its box and click OK
● To unload a template, uncheck its box and click OK
More info on adding global-templates can be found in Kenyan's tutorial, in the section " Global templates - very different from document templates" [Ken22].
There are a variety of Word settings. Some settings are
specified for individual documents, as when a template is attached to a
document. Other settings are for Word itself, and those settings apply to any
Word document that is opened, e.g., AutoCorrect, Accessibility Checker, etc.
In my use-case, I needed to create documents using a provided-template and specific AutoCorrect-settings. Those AutoCorrect settings were different than the settings I usually use, so I needed a way to easily switch between these two types of settings. A solution for this is described below.
In general, a Word user may have a specific set of Word-settings for one type of document, and other sets of Word-settings for other types of documents. I was hoping to find a Word feature that supports the use of different sets of Word-settings, and easily switching between each set. Apparently such a feature does not exist, and solutions for this problem are complex and problematic. Sources of additional information are provided in the appendix, in the section on Word settings.
An article on AutoCorrect settings describes how Word saves the settings in several different places, including Normal.dotm and the registry [Wya19]. It appears that automatically saving and restoring the settings is not possible in all cases, though it may be in some. For example, settings stored in the registry cannot be automatically restored.
In my use-case, it seemed easiest to manually change and restore the settings. I used screen-shots to record the different settings, i.e., the settings used with the provided-template, and the settings I usually use.
[Har16] Harkins, Susan; "10 Things: How to use Word templates effectively", TechRepublic, https://www.techrepublic.com/article/10-things-how-to-use-word-templates-effectively/, (last accessed May 2022), 2016
[Ken22] Kenyon, Charles; "Templates in Microsoft Word - one of the Tutorials in the Intermediate Users Guide to Microsoft Word", http://www.addbalance.com/usersguide/templates.htm (last accessed May 2022), 2022
[Rad] Rado, Dave; "What do Templates and Add-ins store?", TechRepublic, https://wordmvp.com/FAQs/Customization/WhatTemplatesStore.htm, (last accessed May 2022), undated
[Way19] Wyatt, Allen; "Backing Up Your AutoCorrect Entries", https://wordribbon.tips.net/T008481_Backing_Up_Your_AutoCorrect_Entries.html (last accessed May 2022), 2019
● Templates in Microsoft Word - one of the Tutorials in the Intermediate Users Guide to Microsoft Word
● How to Create a Template
● Creating a Template (Part II)
● Understanding Templates (Microsoft Word)
o Templates (Microsoft Word)
● 10 Things: How to use Word templates effectively | TechRepublic
● What do Templates and Add-ins store?
● What is the relationship between a Microsoft Word document and its template? | ShaunaKelly.com
● Info about the Normal template
o Change Default Settings
● Global templates
o Word Templates - Global Templates
o A Global StyleSheet in Microsoft Word? Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
● Load or unload a template or add-in program
● Workgroup Templates in Microsoft Word
● Templates in Microsoft Word - one of the Tutorials in the Intermediate Users Guide to Microsoft Word
■ Good info on attached templates
● What happens when I attach a new template to my document? or How do I copy content and settings from a template to a document? | ShaunaKelly.com
● Determining the Template Attached to a Document (Microsoft Word)
● How do I transfer (copy) the entire, formatted Style Pane from - Microsoft Community
■ See: "A note about how styles update when you attach a new template:"
● What happens when I send my document to someone else? Will Word mess up my formatting? | ShaunaKelly.com
● Save a Word document as a template
● Understanding Styles in Microsoft Word - A Tutorial in the Intermediate Users Guide to Microsoft Word
● Format documents in minutes, using Word Styles, Style Sets & Themes - Executive Support Magazine
● Microsoft Word Styles Themes and Templates
● Winning Strategies for Word Wrestling Part 3: Managing Styles and Stylists | Litera
o Change a theme and make it the default in Word or Excel
o Apply themes
o Making a Customized Theme Available to Others (Microsoft Word)
● How to create and share custom Style Sheets in Word and PowerPoint | PCWorld
● Articles at Word Tips
o Making Word Remember My Settings (Microsoft Word)
o Automatically Saving Changes to Defaults (Microsoft Word)
o Backing Up Your AutoCorrect Entries (Microsoft Word)
o Factory Default Settings for Word (Microsoft Word)
o Copying the Quick Access Toolbar (Microsoft Word)
● Microsoft forums
o Can I save/restore custom settings for Word, Excel, & - Microsoft Community
o Export and/or Backup all Office 2013 settings - Microsoft Community
● Change Default Settings
● How to Restore Factory Settings in Microsoft Word (with Pictures)
● How to Save and Restore Macros in Microsoft Office