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A Microsoft Office Word template contains sample content, formatting, or objects that can be used to quickly and easily create a new document, giving users a way to save time while helping them produce high-quality documents.

This document provides guidelines for creating Word templates, from creating and saving templates to formatting them so that they are easy to use and will work correctly when customized, printed, or viewed on other computers. For guidelines applying to all apps in general, see Create templates for Office.

Save Word templates in the .DOTX format for all platforms other than Word for the web, where they should be saved to .DOCX format.

If you run Document Inspector on your template, do not clear Document Properties and Personal Information if the template contains bound content controls. This will clear your bound controls and then you will have to set them up again.

Quick checklist for template builders - Microsoft Word

  • Theme colors and fonts are set for the template and the template only uses theme colors and fonts.

  • Theme fonts Cambria and Trebuchet MS were manually entered if they are asked for in the spec.

  • Unless design states otherwise, template has continuation page numbering beginning on page 2.

  • If there is a table for the footer, it is set to fixed column width rather than percentages and the left/right cell margins are set to 0.

  • The header/footer distance from the top/bottom page edge is set to no less than .4". NOTE: This has some nuance. The underlying reason for this direction is that many printers can’t print on the edge of the paper so anything appearing around the edges (.4” or closer to the edge) could be cut off. That being said, if you must have a table in your footer, you should insert a rectangle and use it to measure from the actual edge of the page to the point at which the text or shading should start instead of using the header/footer position measurement.

  • There are no extra paragraph marks or spaces at the end of any sentence and no extra tab marks. This includes at the end of table cells:

    • The paragraphs of text in table cells should not end with a paragraph mark, because that leaves a blank paragraph beneath them with the table cell marker.

  • There are no extra paragraph marks in the headers and footers. There are no tab characters or unused paragraph marks in the headers and footers.

  • Normal style matches the default set in Manage Styles->Set Defaults.

  • The entire document has been created with styles and there is no manual formatting (to check this, you can select everything in the document and hit control+spacebar and control+q and nothing changes in the document)

  • All styles in use in the document appear in both the Styles Gallery and the Styles Pane.

  • Styles which are not used in the template do not appear in the Styles Gallery or Styles Pane (particularly there should be no Heading styles which are not used in the template)

  • The order of styles in the Styles Pane and Gallery are correct: 1) Normal, 2) Styles used in document, in order they are used, 3) Footer, 4) Header.

  • Unless design states otherwise, TOC Heading matches Heading 1.

  • Exact line height or line spacing less than 1 is never used to create paragraph spacing.

  • The default settings on certain styles must be adjusted to match the spec when necessary even if those styles are not used. IF THERE IS NO SPEC, IGNORE THESE STYLES. In other words, if you are editing an old template and don’t have the spec, or if no spec was ever provided, don’t make these edits. This is only if these edits were requested in a specific spec:

    • Quote and Intense Quote styles: Remove default indents and borders if they are not set in the design. There is a .6" right and left paragraph indent default and a border default for those styles. If they are not supposed to have that, make sure it is removed.

    • Title and Subtitle styles: If it is not in the spec or original template, remove default expanded or condensed character spacing, set both styles to be followed by themselves and make sure both are set to not add space between paragraphs of the same style.

    • Header and Footer styles: Remove default tab stops.

    • Book Title and Intense Reference styles: If it is not in the spec or original template, remove default expanded character spacing.

    • Subtle Reference and Intense Reference styles: Make sure these styles have the correct small caps/all caps setting.

  • If the page number is inserted on the center or right, the footer style was edited to be center- or right-aligned.

  • Single lists (bulleted and numbered) were created using List Bullet or List Number styles and defined as multilevel lists.

  • Tables that fill the whole page are center aligned and the columns are fixed column width.

    Note: This direction has some nuance. If there is more than 1 table, make sure they all have the same setting (left or center) and in cases where the paper size might change and it’s more important that everything is left aligned, then left align. Sometimes it is more important that all the content remains visually centered. No matter what you pick, the tester might request the opposite!

  • When a table is being used as the layout for a single-page structure, exact row height is set and the table is set to be 100% width.

  • All content tables are set to fixed column width.

  • All heading rows in content tables are set to repeat.

  • In table styles, headers use the Headings font and not the Body font.

  • Custom tables which are supposed to be the default for the template are set to be the default for the template.

  • Any unused custom table styles have been deleted from the template.

  • Table styles were not edited by using the toolbar in the Modify Style dialog box.

  • In custom tables, the first cell (top left side) of the header row matches the rest of the header row instead of matching the left-hand column.

  • Any figures are put into in tables which are set to exact width and are not created by using the “insert figure” feature.

  • All full background elements are inserted in the header/footer layer and anchored in the header.

  • All background graphics are sized relative to the page so they are flexible so if page orientation is changed.

  • Alt text has been added to all photos, shapes and tables. The alt text for tables can be more brief (layout table or content table) but the alt text for photos and shapes should be brief, descriptive and not specific to a template name or reference to sample text. Examples include “Close-up photo of semiconductor elements” or “Photo of satellite dish”.

  • Pictures in background graphics are implemented by making a picture fill in a shape to enable selecting flexible page orientation.

  • Content Control are inserted as Rich Text.

  • Content Controls have had their direct character formatting cleared.

  • Content controls are set to have no container and have “Remove content control when contents are edited” checked.

  • Content controls are used for all placeholder text but not for pieces such as “Dear” in the salutation of a letter.

  • The “Default Paragraph Font” style is removed from the Styles Pane and Gallery.

  • If there are any checkboxes in the template, the checkbox size doesn’t change when the user clicks it on or off.

  • In calendar templates with one calendar to a page, the table width is set to 100% and the column widths to percentages.

  • In calendar template tables, the left cell margins are set to 0" and the right cell margins have the .08” default.

  • In calendar templates there is no continuation footer and the header/footer styles are hidden from the Styles pane unless there is a background graphic in the header.

  • In letter templates, the style following Signature is Normal.

  • In letter templates, the salutation is written “Dear Recipient:” with no quotes or brackets and “Dear” is not in a Content Control.

  • In letter templates, wherever there is an address, the city, state and zip code is written like this: City, ST ZIP Code

High level steps to create a Word template

  1. Start a new document and save it as a template.

  2. Remove your name from File >Info >Author, then make sure to select “Allow this information to be saved in your file” under File >Info to save that setting.

  3. Set up the page margins, orientation, and layout in Page Setup

  4. Set up theme fonts and colors.

    Note: Always look for the font combination you need from the Office section first, then if they aren’t available there, you can make a custom font pairing, but when you make a custom font pairing, it should be named in relation to the template

  5. Set up style defaults in Manage Styles> Set Defaults.

  6. Create the style set by editing existing styles and creating new ones as needed.

  7. Build the template according to specs, using the style set given and using acceptable tip text (see Use placeholder text), adjusting the styles as needed to make the spacing work well. If you are rebuilding an old template, you can copy the Design Theme, graphics and text (paste as unformatted text and then reformat in the new document to avoid bringing over incorrect styles) but do not copy and edit the old template. Always begin with a brand new template.

  8. Run spelling and grammar check and fix any issues found.

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