Creating a Word Document Template

By LaurenMarie

Ok this might be really lame to many of you, but unfortunately Microsoft Office is a staple in the business world and I find it necessary to create Word templates for other departments to use at my work. This can be a frustrating experience! InDesign is so much more intuitive and I know that I can control the text and object to do exactly what I want them to do. Word sometimes just likes to mess my files up for no reason! Gah!

The following tutorial is valid for Microsoft Word 2000 – 2003 (screenshots from 2003). It may be the same in other versions, like 2007, but I don’t have access to them, so I couldn’t test it.

Creating a new template

  1. go to File>New
  2. there’s a little box in the corner that has a radio button selection: choose Template
  3. Now you’ll need to work with styles in Word (most aggravating!)
    1. Set up styles by going to Format>Style… (called Styles and Formatting in 2003) In 2000, this opens a new dialog box. In 2003, this opens a pane on the left hand side of the window.
    2. Select the style you want to modify (I’d start with Normal since everything is based on that, just like the Basic paragraph style in InDesign) and click the Modify… button. In 2003 you mouse over the style and click the drop down arrow and choose Modify.
    3. Modify Style Dialog Box in Word 2003

    4. You’ll get a new Modify Style dialog box for that style. Click the Format button at the bottom and select Font from the dropdown list (you can also do this right from that dialog box, but I’m more used to the Font dialog box and I like it better).
    5. Font Dialog Box in Word 2003

    6. You should recognize this dialog box; it’s the same one you see if you right click in the document and choose Font. It contains selections for the actual font, size, style (bold, italic, etc), color and other miscellaneous modifications you can make to a font. Change your settings and click ok
    7. You’ll go back to the Modify Style dialog box (or your document with the Formatting pane next to it for 2003 users). Now select Paragraph from the Format button menu.
    8. Paragraph Dialog Box in Word 2003

    9. In the Paragraph dialog box you’ll find settings for indentation, alignment, before and after spacing, line spacing. To control your leading exactly, select Exact and type in the point size. Remember that leading is generally at least the font size +2, so for a 12 point font, you’ll want at least 14 points of leading, 16 points would be my personal choice.Of course, you can always set your own styles, with customized names, but I like to just modify the existing ones so there’s no chance the client will select those instead of your custom named ones and mess everything up.
    10. Go through and set up all of the styles you think the client will need and make it easy—don’t set up more styles than s/he will use. It will only confuse them when they have to choose which style to apply later.
      Note: You may want to set up some dummy text in the template so you know what all the styles will look like (and if you leave it there when you save, the client will still be able to delete it, but they will know what their document will look like)
  4. To put an image in the background (like a letterhead or watermark) of the template:
    1. Go the Header/Footer view (View>Header/Footer)
    2. Page Setup in Word 2003

    3. If you want to create a different first page to, say, make the logo smaller or remove it all together, you can click the Page Setup button on the Header/Footer toolbar, or go to File>Page Setup. Go to the Layout tab (comes up automatically if accessed via the Header/Footer toolbar), locate the little section that says Headers and Footers and check the box that says Different First Page. You’ll probably want to insert a page break before doing this step so that you can access the second page to insert the different image.
    4. Go to Insert>Picture>From File
    5. Select the image and click ok (this is not a document relative program, so no worries about where the picture is located in relation to this template). Note: Word likes to bring in large pictures smaller than their original size, so don’t worry about scaling the image up to fit the entire document, as long as you originally created it to be that large). If it looks like the image wasn’t inserted into the document, try clicking around at the very top of the page. I think it puts it up there so it doesn’t interfere with the text.
    6. Format Picture in Word 2003

    7. Double click on the picture to bring up the Format Picture dialog box (you may not be able to double click, if the image didn’t look like it was in the doc, so instead go to Format>Picture to get this dialog box).
    8. Go to the Layout tab and select Behind Text
    9. Navigate to the Size tab and make sure it’s at 100%
    10. Click ok
    11. Grab the picture and align it to the corners of the document, always making sure to resize it from the corners so that it stays proportional (no stretching!)
    12. Repeat steps 3 – 9 for the second page if you choose to make it different.
  5. Go into the Page Setup options if you want to alter the margins or paper size of the template.
  6. Save As and Choose Document Template (.dot)

  7. All styles and margins set and a photo in the background? Good. Save As and choose Document Template (.dot). Close.

Now you’ll need to let your client know how to use this confounded thing (and let them know they really should be using a more sophisticated editor like InCopy or InDesign). Here are sample instructions I give out, all set up nice and pretty on an exclusive Creative Curio Word template, just for you!

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