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Creating New Files

When you choose File, New in an Office 2003 program, the New Document, New Workbook, or New Presentation task pane opens (the exact name varies depending on the Office program in use). As Figure 3.2 illustrates, these task panes are well organized and fairly self-explanatory. Choose an option from the New block at the top of the task pane to create a blank document or to create a new workbook, database, or presentation from an existing file. Select from the Templates list if you want to see a complete list of available templates.

Figure 3.2

Figure 3.2 Every Office program offers a variation of this task pane, which gives you options for creating a new blank file or one based on existing content.

The top of the Templates section includes a search box and link that go directly to Microsoft’s Office Online site. Click here to open your web browser and look for custom templates that match the needs of your current project. Click On My Computer to select from templates available in the current Office program; the resulting tabbed dialog box is built on the fly from two (and, in some cases, three) sources:

  • The default collection of Office templates is stored in a subfolder that corresponds to the system’s current language settings; on a default U.S. English installation, this is %programfiles%\Microsoft Office\Templates\1033. All users of the current system see these templates.
  • Each user’s custom templates are stored in the location specified for User Templates. By default, this is %appdata%\Microsoft\Templates. The actual location can be changed in Word’s File Locations dialog box. Choose Tools, Options, and, on the File Locations tab, click User Templates and then Modify.
  • If you’ve used Word’s File Locations dialog box to specify a Workgroup Templates folder, Office displays templates from this location in the New dialog box as well. If a template in the Workgroup Templates location and one in the User Templates location have the same name, the Office program displays and uses only the one from the User Templates location.

If you’re having trouble finding templates that you’ve saved, see "Putting Templates in Their Place" in the "Troubleshooting" section at the end of this chapter.

Although you can manage the contents of template folders in an Explorer window, the easiest and safest way to make new templates available to an Office program is to save the file in Template format. After creating the Word document, Excel workbook, or PowerPoint presentation that you want to use as a template, follow these steps:

  1. Choose File, Save As.
  2. From the Save As Type drop-down list, choose Document Template (Word), Template (Excel), or Design Template (PowerPoint). The dialog box displays the contents of your User Templates folder.
  3. To add the new template to one of the existing tabs, click the Create New Folder button and add a folder with the same name as the existing tab. If you want to create a custom tab for the Templates dialog box, specify a new folder name. If you don’t select a subfolder here, your new template will appear on the General tab of the Templates dialog box.
  4. Type a name for the template and click Save.
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