Stop repeating yourself – build a Microsoft Word template


Ever get tired of creating the same document type, over and over, from scratch?  Then don’t.  Build a template instead.  A template will have all the basic elements of your document in it (a signature block, a custom header/footer, whatever you need), saving you repetitive effort every time you create a new document.

What’s that?  You don’t know how to create a template?  You’re in luck.  I’m about to build one for myself.  And I’ll even let you watch over my shoulder while I do it.

Here’s how I’d proceed:

  • I’d start a brand-new document.  (You can also take a previously-saved document if you’re looking to make a template for, say, a certain type of discovery requests, etc.  Just remember to strip out anything client-specific.)
  • I’d put in whatever form elements I want to use as “boilerplate.”  I could, for example, put in bare bones of a federal court pleading header, my special table-based “footer trick,” and a form Certificate of Service.

The trick to making a Word document into a template is how you save it. A Word template has the extension .dotx in Word 2007 and up.  To save a document as a template, here’s how you do it in the various versions of Word:

  • Version 2007: Click the Microsoft Office Button (the round button in the upper left-hand corner) and choose Save As.  Choose a location for your template, then choose Word Template in the Save As Type box.
  • Versions 2010 and up: Go to the File tab and choose Save As, then proceed as with version 2007.

Now, the next time I create a new federal court pleading, all I have to do is create a new document (File tab, New), choosing the template I’ve just created so that I start with a basic layout already in place.

What sort of templates will you be building, now that you know how?

(P.S.: By the way, this trick is also good in any Microsoft Office application.  So go forth and build!)

About the author 

Deborah Savadra

I spend an inordinate amount of my time playing with computers and attempting to explain technology to lawyers and law office staff. It's not always easy, but someone's got to do it.

But, seriously, I'm a law firm software trainer by trade with nearly 30 years of experience in and around law firms and their technology. This blog is my attempt to spread the word about better and more efficient ways to use Microsoft Office in a legal practice context.

Comments are closed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

How do your Word skills stack up?

Whether you're getting ready for a job interview or just looking to "skill up" to meet daily demands, this Word Skills Checklist can help you find the gaps in your knowledge of basic to intermediate Microsoft Word skills. Click the button below to download your copy today!