Part 3: Templates: to lock or not to lock? That is the question…

Locked or Unlocked

In the last Dossier edition, we talked about Styles (Part 1 and Part 2) and bestowed on you the knowledge that the Formatting Tools on the Home tab of the Ribbon are the devil.

As a reminder, Styles are formatting attributes that are grouped by name and applied by clicking on the desired text and then using the desired style from the Word Style gallery. Getting familiar with Styles will mean you will become a formatting ACE (Application speed, Consistency and Easy maintenance) in no time.

Like your favourite celebrity couple, now that you’ve learned a little about Beyonce (Styles), let’s get to know her equally famous husband – Jay-Z (Templates).

(Ok, so I’m taking a little bit of creative licence here.  How else can you make styles and templates glitzy and glamorous??)

What is a template?

A Template is a Word document with properties that are unique to it. Templates contain some text, formatting, logos/images and a specific layout with the aim of giving you a head start on creating other documents which are similar.

An example of a template might be a quote document which already has all of your business information in it, and only the addressee details need to change. Obviously, you’d then save that document as a new file so as not to corrupt the template… which brings me to my next point.

What is a Locked Template?

Put simply, a locked Template:

  • prevents the Styles from being modified
  • disables the Formatting Tools on the Home tab of the Ribbon
  • prevents “random” formatting coming into the document from copy and paste.

You will find that you will often experience a fair amount of whinging from people whose preference it is to have Templates unlocked. Beware the pressure to unlock templates from colleagues convinced that they are expert users of Word and know that other professional formatters the world over (or anyone who understand the ACE principles of formatting) have your back on this one.

Why Locked Templates are ACE!

Application Speed

If you didn’t get the memo, the key thing all professional formatters are looking to do is save time. When used correctly, Templates save you a tonne of time because you already have access to customised Styles that will be contained in it and you can have as many different types of Templates as you want – for each part of your business!


Like the benefits you get using Styles over the Formatting Tools in the Home Ribbon, Templates offer consistency because you are using the same document as a base every time. Anyone who has spent many hours “fixing” the formatting of a suite of documents so that they look congruent feels our pain on this one.

The best news is that anyone can use them and, because you would have locked the formatting down, the Styles are already programmed in and are uneditable.

Ease of Maintenance

As a professional formatter, I have a simple rule: if more than one person is using a Template to create and modify documents – it must be locked!  That will ensure that all documents created from the Template are also locked and that any user of the document will use the correct formatting when modifying the document based on the Template.

I guarantee that if you learn how to use Styles and Templates you won’t want to go back to the Formatting Tools. You will be shocked at how much time they cost you… time which you could be spending doing other things that mean more to you!

Check out our next article where we explore more formatting tips and tricks.

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