Excel Series: Templates

What is a template?

Before we consider what an Excel template is, let us have a look at what templates are in general.



noun: template; plural noun: templates

1. a shaped piece of rigid material used as a pattern for processes such as cutting out, shaping, or drilling.

something that serves as a model for others to copy.

“the plant was to serve as the template for change throughout the company”

COMPUTING: a preset format for a document or file.

BIOCHEMISTRY: a nucleic acid molecule that acts as a pattern for the sequence of assembly of a protein, nucleic acid, or other large molecule.

“secondary structure in the template strand is eliminated”

2. a timber or plate used to distribute the weight in a wall or under a support.

a template is like a stencil
A template is like a stencil

So, a template in the context of Microsoft Excel is a previously created file which can have specified layouts, as well as formatting. They are customisable, but saves time by not having to recreate a file from scratch.

Why a template?

Templates are useful in a variety of different circumstances, some of which are listed below:

  • when you need to use the same layout and formatting on a regular basis (e.g. a monthly budget, or a weekly timesheet)
  • when you would like a pre-formatted file with fancy functions that you do not understand how to use (e.g. a dynamic calendar that updates automatically)
  • when you have previously found a file that you like, and do not want to reinvent the wheel
  • when you are trying to save time and make your information look good!

Types of templates

There are two main types of templates:

  1. Those that you have created yourself
  2. Those that someone else has created

Create your own

It is very easy to create your own template. The steps are listed below:

  1. Create a blank workbook
  2. Add your layout, formatting and any information that will not change every time you use the file
  3. Save your file as an Excel template file type (as opposed to an Excel workbook)
  4. Do not change the default file path that Excel switches to (usually Custom Office Templates folder), or else the template will not automatically be listed as a template option
  5. Close your file
  6. Create a new workbook from your File ribbon, and find your template under the “Personal” tab (Office 2016)
  7. It will now open your previously saved template as a new workbook
  8. Save the file with an appropriate name

Review the video below to see a quick demo of how a template is created within Excel.

Demo of template creation

Use a third party template

On the other hand, if you would like to skip steps 1 to 5, you can use a template that has previously been created by someone else. You can do this in two ways:

  • Find a template through Excel under the “featured” tab (Office 2016) or by searching in the “search for online templates” bar. Open and proceed with editing.
  • Browse the internet for a template that suits your requirements exactly, download and open using Excel

Here are a few free templates that UPvisor has created for you in the links below.

*Note: The above templates run codes (macros) in the background. To make full use of the features, please click enable macros when opening the files.

When have you wished that there was “a template for that”? Feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below! Also don’t forget to share this post with your colleagues.

Lastly, if templates still leave you scratching your head, make sure you head on over to book your spot in one of our upcoming Excel Intermediate courses!