Build a Real Book Template With Word
Posted On: 2014-04-09
by: Teresa Miller

09, 2014
Last Week's issue of Self Publisher Today discussed buying a premade professional template. This week's issue pertains to creating your own template for free. Note: The version of Microsoft Word demonstrated in this article is Word 2010. If you have a different version, the steps may differ slightly.

Many people don't think it's possible, but you really can design a very attractive, professional-looking book in Microsoft Word. It does take a little bit of time up front, but you can cut corners on future books of similar design by creating a re-usable template. First, let's be clear what we're talking about when we refer to templates in this instance.

What Is A Template?

Technically, a template is just a pattern or predefined form that you can use to jump-start a creation process. In Microsoft Word, a true template has a different file extension than a regular document, and is set up so that it doesn't accidentally get altered when you begin working with it. It's also stored separately from your documents, in the "admin" side of the application.

Most of the book templates you see available for download aren't actual templates. Instead they're documents that are being used as templates. Even the templates available for download from CreateSpace are simply documents with the margins, page sizes and styles set up.

It's completely fine to use these as templates; I've done so myself, many times. To use an existing document as a template, you open the document, click on File>Save As and save it under a new name. That would leave your template document intact for future use, and would give you a new file with the name of your manuscript or project.

The problem? One day you get in a hurry, and start typing into your template. You make a bunch of changes and just click the regular Save button. Boom - it hits you! You never saved it as a new document, and now you've saved "over" your template.

That's why I prefer to have a real Word template installed and available to use over and over. It's just easier - and safer - that way.

Maybe you're aware that Word has built-in templates for common documents such as resumes, faxes, letters, etc. You find those if you start a new document by clicking the File tab and then clicking "New."

Word will present you with the available templates that are already installed on your computer at the top, and below is the option to search the Microsoft Office Template Gallery.

You can see from the image that there is a category called My Templates. If you want to create your own true templates, this is where you'll save them and later find them. So how do you go about getting your templates created and safely stored with the rest of Word's templates?

How To Create Your Own Template

There are three ways to create a new template in Word.

First, you can create a template from scratch, by setting up the margins, paper size (trim size), fonts, styles, etc. and then saving it as a template. To save as a template, click File>Save as. Name it something recognizable, such as Kindle Template, or Fiction Template. You can also include the trim size in the name if it's for a physical book, so you'll know at a glance what it is.

From the drop down box of options, choose Word template. When you select template as your file type, it will automatically show you the Word>Templates location in the left navigation pane. (See image.) Select that and save.

Secondly, you can save any existing document as a template. So if you have those template documents I mentioned earlier, you can turn them into real templates very easily. You can also use this method if you already have a book formatted and want to turn that into a template.

You can do this by opening the document normally and making any adjustments you want to the default styles, fonts and settings then saving it as a template. Another way to create a new template from an existing document is by going to the File tab, click 'New" and then choose "New from existing."

Either way, be sure to name it something that you'll recognize, and that it goes into the Word>Templates file location.

IMPORTANT: If you save your template somewhere other than the Word>Templates location, it won't show up as an available template in Word. You'll have to open it from wherever you saved it.

The third method is to use an existing template to create a new one. This is handy if you want to create multiple book templates. For example if you want to do different trim sizes, or variations for different book types. Just go to File>New>My templates and select the one you want to modify. At the bottom of the right preview pane, you'll see where it says Create New, with the options of Document or Template. (See image.) Choose Template and proceed with your modifications. This time when you go to File>Save as, the template file type will already be filled in, and so will the file location for Word templates.

Final Words

If you're going to create a certain type of book over and over again, that's a pretty compelling reason to make a template. Then when you want to start a new book your template is ready and waiting for you with the rest of your Word templates.

Simply go to File>New>My templates and select your book template. Then you can type directly into it, or cut and paste your content if you already have it typed somewhere else. Word won't allow you to accidentally save over your template the way you can with a document.

Until Next Time,
Teresa Miller