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

This document provides guidelines for creating Excel templates, from creating and saving templates to formatting them so they are easy to use and will work correctly when customized, printed, or viewed on other computers. It should be thoroughly applied to each template created for Microsoft. For guidelines applying to all apps in general, please refer to Create templates for Office.

Excel template quick checklist




Placeholder text is used consistently within the template and is generic (i.e., no fictitious content).

Spelling and grammar are correct.

Track Changes is turned off.

Images and objects

All pictures and photos have alt text.

All shapes and AutoShapes are associated with theme colors.

For tables, heading rows are set to repeat on new pages, if appropriate to the design and if text can flow across more than one page.


Margins are set to no less than 0.25'' and no objects or elements exceed or overlap with the margins.

The template is saved in Normal view with focus on the starting cell and active worksheet intended to be the focus cell and active worksheet when the template is freshly opened.

Zoom is set to 100%.


Cell formatting is done by applying styles wherever possible.

Styles that you created or modified but didn't use and any manual spaces and page breaks are deleted.

No password protection is used, and any cell protection adds value and is kept to a minimum.

File format

The file name does not exceed the 12.4 naming convention and contains no special characters.

The file is saved using the appropriate format: e.g. XLTX.

Document Properties are cleared and the setting saved.

How to approach building a template from scratch

There is a natural progression to building templates. This section gives a quick overview of how to approach the layout and design. The rest of this document addresses the details and caveats.

  • Set the theme colors and theme fonts according to the design spec.

  • Set up text styles and table styles to match the formatting shown in the design spec.

  • Run Contrast analyzer to confirm color contrast passes the standard.

  • In Page Setup, set margins, page orientation, and page scaling.

  • Set the normal font, background color and the default cell width and height across the worksheet.

  • Set row heights and column widths approximately according to the design spec.

  • Turn off gridlines and assign the worksheet tab a name and theme color.

  • Assign data definitions where applicable as you enter text and formulas.

  • Add tables charts, PivotTables, etc. and add Alt text.

  • In Page Layout, set footer and page titles, if applicable.

  • Set starting and ending cells, check template’s appearance in print preview, etc.

  • Check accessibility issues and validate merged cells, etc. are appropriate and necessary.

  • Run document inspector, save as template, Remove PII details, etc.

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