Designing documents in Word can be a mix of incredibly easy and painfully difficult. Certain tasks are painless, while moving images around a document is a minefield of unexpected consequences. Of course, Microsoft apps are far from the darlings of the Apple ecosystem. Yet with their prevalence in the workaday world, many Mac users are forced to use the applications whether they like it or not. And if you can’t beat them, join them! Rather than fight Word every step of the way, you can learn to create templates in Microsoft Word that are actually useful and attractive.
If you work with the same types of documents frequently, you might find yourself making the same stylistic tweaks over and over again, but you can save yourself the trouble. It’s easy to save an existing Word document as a template, preserving the styling and starter text for new documents. You can also create templates in Microsoft Word from scratch, on which you can base new documents.
Styling Properly in Word
Before we talk about templates, we have to talk about the right way to style text in Word. If you’re not using styles in Word (i.e. styling text directly), you have two problems.
First, you’re doing everything in just about the hardest way possible. Secondly, your templates will only be of limited usefulness. Creating headings by selecting text, adjusting the font size to 24 and making it bold (and then undoing it in the next line!) is a frustrating waste of time. Don’t do that to yourself! Invest ten minutes in learning how Word’s styling tools work, and you’ll save hours in the long run. The following are some basic tips for styling effectively:
- Always use Headings and Normal styling as part of a document. You can find this in the Home section of the ribbon under the “Styles” section.
- While you’re learning the ropes, start with the existing styles and overwrite them with your preferred styling choices. The existing styles let you set up the “structure” of your documents, which is crucial for templates.
- To adjust an existing style, style the text directly until it looks like what you want, right-click on the style you want to replace, and choose “Update [Style] to match selection.” You can also right-click on the Style and choose “Modify,” but that can be a little trickier to get right if you don’t have a lot of experience with the system.
- Rather than pressing enter twice under a heading, use the “Paragraph” ribbon section to get text spacing right. This is found in Format > Paragraph Spacing (Option + Command + M) You can use either multiple spacing, or insert a point-sized space below each heading.
- Get advanced text options, like letter spacing or small caps, from the Font menu under Format > Font (Command + D)
Saving Your Template
Once you have your template built or your document open, you can save it as a Word Template for use later.
1. Click “File,” then choose “Save As Template…” from the menu bar at the top of the screen.
2. Type the desired name for your template in the file name box. Use spaces and capitals to make it look nice; you’ll see this template name in Word’s template chooser forever unless you change it later. When you’re done, click the “Save” button.
Don’t mess with the location or the file type, since that’s important to saving the template correctly.
Opening and Using Your Template
Once you have your template saved, you’ll want to create new documents with it. True to the name, creating a new document with this template will not modify the template file itself. You’ll create a new, unsaved document with the styling and document setup copied over from your template.
Of course, if you do need to edit the template later, you can open a new document with the template, make your changes, then save the edited template over the top of the original one, overwriting the outdated version.
1. To create a new document, choose “File” then “New from Template…”
2. Click on “Personal” (next to “Featured”) at the top of the gallery page to view your saved templates.
3. Double-click you template’s icon to open a new document with the same styling and content as the saved template.
Create templates in Microsoft Word for Mac to save existing styling as well as text. This can give you a major leg up when filling out forms or creating similar documents regularly. If you create many documents with the same basic layout or starter content frequently, templates are a major time and tedium saver.
They also create consistency across documents and organizations. By sharing the template file, you can assure that other people in your company, department or team are following the same styling rules as you are. It can also encourage you to make attractive designs more frequently. After all, if you already have a template with an awesome header design ready to go, you don’t have to “waste time” designing an attractive document from the ground up each time. And well-designed documents impress everyone from cubicle mates to bosses to investors.
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