How to prepare a Word template

This post summarizes the steps to prepare a Word template.

The final objective of this post is to create a .dotx (macro-disabled) or .dotm (macro-enabled) file, that enables reusability of the format we have created.

This post was written in April 2022 and assumes you are using the 365 version of Microsoft Word.

Steps to prepare a Word Template

Steps to prepare a Word Template:

  1. Open or create a Word file
  2. Set theme
  3. Set document template
  4. Insert header
  5. Insert footer
  6. Insert table of contents
  7. Add the default content
  8. Save global template

These steps are detailed below.

1. Open or create a Word file

When creating a Word template, I would recommend to create a brand new file. When you reuse an existing documents, the file may have been misconfigured or belong to a version older than your Word file.

2. Set theme

A theme includes:

  • Colors
  • Default fonts

2.1. Import a theme

If you do not have an available theme, skip to the next step.

If you have a .thmx file with a theme, go to “Design” tab > “Theme” dropdown list > “Browse for themes…” and select your .thmx file.

Remember to click on “Set as Default” button once it has been imported. Confirm in the dialog.

Then skip to step 2.

2.2. Set theme colors

Set the colors palette. To find hints about how to choose the right colors, please check this post.

Give a name to the palette.

Go to “Design” tab > “Colors” dropdown list

You can also import it even from other applications like PowerPoint.

Go to “Design” tab > “Document Formatting” group > “Themes” dropdown list > “Browse for Themes…”

Select your desired colors.

2.3. Set Theme fonts

Go to “Design” tab > “Font” dropdown list > “Customize”.

Select your desired fonts for both heading and body.

2.4. Save your theme

You can save the colors into a .thmx file by going to “Design” tab > “Document Formatting” group > “Themes” dropdown list > “Save Current Theme…”.

This can be useful to export the them to other applications (like PowerPoint or Excel) or sharing it with other users.

3. Set document template

A Word document template includes:

  • Styles

The default document template is “Word”.

Word document template can be imported/exported through files with extension .dotx.

3.1. Import a document template

If you do not have an available theme, go to the next step.

If you imported a them, follow the instructions on this link. You can skip the next theme steps.

3.2. Set styles

Set default password.

3.3. Set default font

Type a text and format it with the settings you wish as the default format. Go to “Home” tab > “Font” group > Open “Font” dialog.

Perform all the changes you want.

Then, press “Set As Default” button.

In the following dialog, select “This document only”.

3.4. Format headings

You must decide if headings are numbered or unnumbered. They are unnumbered by default.

Method 1 to format headings: use multi-level list for all headings

This is the method recommended by Microsoft, as it can be read on this external link.

I have noticed that after applying this solution in Office 365 new bulletpoint and numbered lists are created as headings. If this issue still happens, then I recommend to undo changes and go for method 2. This issue is discussed on this external link.

If you want to number your headings:

  1. Format a text as heading 1.
  2. Place the cursor over the text by clicking on it
  3. Go to “Home” tab > Group “Paragraph” > “Multi-level List” dropdown list > Select a list format in “List library”

It numbers all headings levels at once automatically.

Method 2 to format headings: apply numbered list to each heading style

Right click on a heading style, expand the dropdown list on the bottom left corner (“Format…”), select “Numbering…”, go to “Outline Numbered” tab and select “1.1 Heading 2…”.

Alternatively, you can go to “List styles” tab and select “1 / 1.1 / 1.1.1”, but it applies ugly indenting.

Repeat this procedure for each heading style.

The list issue does not appear when using this method.

3.5. Save your document template

Go to “Design” tab > “Document formatting” group > “Style set” dropdown list > “Save as a New Style Set…”.

It will be saved as a .dotx file.

4. Insert header

Insert a header and customize it.

5. Insert footer

Insert a footer and customize it.

6. Insert table of contents

Go to tab “References”> Group “Table of Contents” > “Insert Table of Contents”.
Check “Right align page numbers” if you want the page numbers to appear.

The format corresponding to the table of content title is dependant of “TOC Header” style. Modify this style if you do not like the default one.

You may want to remove the style “TOC Header” of the table of the content header and apply a normal one to avoid it to be numbered when using numbered headings.

7. Add the default content

Design cover, the table of content pages and a sample page.

You can use autotexts for the title, so each time you mention the title you do not have to change it on every instance.

To insert an autotext for the title, go to:
“Insert” tab > “Text” group > “Quick Parts” dropdown list > “Field” > “Title”

To set the title, go to “File” > “Info” and enter the title in the field “Title”

8. Save global template

A Word global template is a standard template with predefined settings. They have the extension .dotx (macro-disabled) or .dotm (macro-enabled).

Go to File > “Save a copy” > Select format file .dotx or .dotm.

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