Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Working on Shared Templates.

Working on Shared Templates

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 23, 2021)

Word establishes a very close relationship between documents and templates. When a document is created, it is always based on a template. In addition, you can attach templates to specific documents to change which styles and other features are available to that document.

When you have a document open in Word, the template attached to that document is also opened by the program. This means that Word has immediate access to the information in the template, but it can also present problems in a networked environment. It is not unusual for templates needed by many workers to be stored on a network drive. That way, users can access the template over the network.

Of course, since Word opens the template when a document that uses that template is open, that means that the same template can be open—automatically—by many different users at the same time. This does not present a real problem for Word, but it can present a problem if you are responsible for managing updates to the company's templates. You can't open and change a template if it is in use by someone else who has an open document that uses that template. What to do?

This is a common problem, and boils down to a management issue more than a technological issue. There is no way for an administrator (the person responsible for the templates) to force a "disconnect" between a document and a template. This means that there are only two ways you can possibly work on the templates you need to change.

First, you can tell everyone to close their documents and get out of Word while you do the update. Depending on the size of your department, this may be possible. If you have hundreds of users, however, this approach becomes less feasible—particularly if someone may be away from his or her desk with a document still open on their system. (You would need to walk to their desk and manually close the document yourself.)

The second possible solution is to keep duplicates of the templates. These duplicates could be on a local drive or on a network drive to which only you have access. The duplicates should have different names than the shared templates. For instance, if you have a shared template called BusLtr.dotm, you might have the duplicate be MasterBusLtr.dotm.

The duplicate templates mean that you can load and modify the duplicates, and then copy the modified template over the top of the shared template at a time when it is not in use. For instance, you might come in early in the morning, before the computers are in use, and copy the duplicate template to the shared folder (using the shared templates name) so that the template is available for use by others as they start arriving at the office.

There is another management guideline that should go hand-in-hand with the above-described procedures: You should make sure that your shared templates—the ones on the network drive—are located in a read-only folder. In this way your network users cannot make changes, inadvertent or purposeful, to the templates. As administrator of the templates, you should have the ability to write to the folder, but others should not. That way, as you make updates in the copies of the templates you can move them to the shared, read-only folder as already described.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (284) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Working on Shared Templates.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Choosing a Character Size in the Equation Editor

The Equation Editor is a handy tool, particularly for those who must include mathematical equations in their documents. ...

Discover More

Periodically Delete TMP Files

After using Word for a while, you may notice some "litter" of unused files on your hard drive. This tip explains how ...

Discover More

Unexpected Error Exporting a PDF

It is common for people to create PDF files from their Word documents. What can you do, though, if your standard way of ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (menu)

Preventing Changes to Styles in Documents

Have you ever created a template only to have the styles within it changed as they were used within a document? Here are ...

Discover More

What Changes Did I Make In that Template?

When you make changes that affect a template, Word usually asks you if you want to save those changes when you exit the ...

Discover More

Listing the Settings in a Template

Templates allow you to define and collect many formatting settings that control how your documents appear. Getting a ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is four less than 5?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.