Shared Workgroup Templates – Best Practices

Groups of workers usually use the same templates. But it can be time-consuming to keep everyone updated when templates are installed separately on each desktop. Instead, you can implement shared workgroup templates with a feature already built into Office.


Shared Workgroup Templates – Multiple Uses

Every desktop version of Office, Mac and Windows, includes a Workgroup templates option that allows you to set a network share as a templates folder. Templates on this share are instantly available to all users, making updates and revisions a breeze. Automatically, everyone in the office is using the same version. As long as template names remain identical, then old Word documents automatically attach themselves to the new template.

The Workgroup templates network share can serve more that just templates. With some additional subfolders, it can be a source for Document Themes, including custom SuperThemes, it can hold collection of Font and Color themes. These additional files don’t show in the File>New dialog. Theme files display under the Themes dropdown, theme colors under the Colors dropdown and theme fonts under the Fonts dropdown.


Shared Workgroup Templates – Setup

To set up shared workgroup templates, first create the network location and ensure it’s accessible to all in the office without a signin. Each computer should connect to the share automatically on restart, so users don’t have to remember to manually connect before creating a new document. Create subfolders with the following names for othe file types you want to support. Document Themes for themes, with subfolders for Theme Colors and Theme Fonts. All versions of Office expect exactly the same file structure.

If the office uses Group Policies to install and configure software, you can use that feature to add the Workgroup Template location to each user installation. If you’re using “sneakernet” for configuration, here’s how to do it manually. All Office suites use a setting in Word to set the location for all the other programs

Office 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2019 for Windows

  1. In Word, choose File>Options>Advanced.
  2. Scroll down to the General section of Advanced and click on the File Locations… button.
  3. Select the Workgroup templates line, then click on the Modify button.
  4. In the dialog that opens, enter the path to the network share in the Folder name field, or use the window controls to navigate to the folder. Select the folder and click on OK. OK all the way out and close Word

Office 2007 for Windows

  1. In Word, click on the Office button, then on Word Options, then on Advanced..
  2. Scroll down to the General section of Advanced and click on the File Locations… button.
  3. Select the Workgroup templates line, then click on the Modify button.
  4. In the dialog that opens, enter the path to the network share in the Folder name field, or use the window controls to navigate to the folder. Select the folder and click on OK. OK all the way out and close Word.

Office 2003 and earlier for Windows

  1. In Word, choose Tools>Options and click on the File Locations tab.
  2. Select the Workgroup templates line, then click on the Modify button.
  3. In the dialog that opens, enter the path to the network share in the Folder name field, or use the window controls to navigate to the folder. Select the folder and click on OK. OK all the way out and close Word.

Office 2016 and 2019 for Mac

  1. In Word, choose Word>Preferences>File Locations.
  2. Select the Workgroup templates line, then click on the Modify button.
  3. In the dialog that opens, use the window controls to navigate to the folder. Select the folder and click on Open. OK out and close Word

Office 2011 and earlier for Mac

  1. In Word, choose Word>Preferences>File Locations.
  2. Select the Workgroup templates line, then click on the Modify button.
  3. In the dialog that opens, use the window controls to navigate to the folder. Select the folder and click on Choose. OK out and close Word

Shared Workgroup Templates in Use

Here’s how to access Workgroup templates in Office programs

Office 2016 and 2019 for Windows

  1. Choose File>New.
  2. Click on Custom.
  3. Click on Workgroup Templates, select a template, then click on Create.

Office 2013 for Windows

  1. Choose FILE>New.
  2. Click on SHARED.
  3. Click on a template.

Office 2010 for Windows

  1. Choose File>New>My Templates.
  2. On the Personal Templates tab, select a template, then click on OK. This tab also shows local templates on the user’s computer.

Office 2007 for Windows

  1. Click on the Office button, then on New.
  2. Click on My templates…
  3. Select the My Templates tab. Workgroup templates are displayed along with local templates in the same pane.

Office 2003 and earlier for Windows

  1. Click on File>New. The New Document pane opens at the side of the window.
  2. On the New Document pane, click on On my computer…
  3. Select a template from the General pane and click on OK. This pane shows a mix of local and workgroup templates.

Office 2016 and 2019 for Mac

  1. Choose File>New from Template…. The Document Gallery opens
  2. In the upper left corner, click on the Work link. This link only appears when you have a Workgroup Templates location set in Preferences.
  3. Select a template, then click on Create.

Office 2011 for Mac

  1. Choose File>New from Template. The Document Gallery opens.
  2. Click on Workgroup Templates in the left-hand TEMPLATES list..
  3. Select a template and click on Choose.

Office 2008 for Mac

  1. Choose File>Project Gallery. The Project Gallery opens.
  2. Click on My Templates in the left-hand Category list..
  3. Select a template and click on Open. This window will show a mix of Workgroup and local templates.

Shared Workgroup Templates – Shortcomings

In addition to templates and themes, a local templates folder also serves custom Chart and SmartArt templates. Neither of these formats is supported by Workgroup Templates, so those templates must still be installed locally on each user’s computer.

7:13 pm

8 thoughts on “Shared Workgroup Templates – Best Practices

  1. Hi John,

    I advise having Workgroup templates (as well as shared Add-ins) stored in a network location but updated/distributed with each network login to a local storage location. This has two key advantages, IMO:
    1. The templates in the shared location will not be locked for editing when in use. This is especially key with global templates.
    2. These resources will be available to laptops when remote from the network.

  2. Thanks for the idea, that’s a workable approach. I’ve also programmed templates that check their location and file date on opening. If it’s running on the network, it checks the user’s local hard drive and copies itself, if the version there is older or non-existent.

  3. One of the issues we have found is that we would like to store Templates within Sharepoint (so that we have a folder that contains the ‘master’ copy). However, workgroup templates within Word doesn’t allow you to access a Sharepoint location directly. This led to us keeping two copies; one on Sharepoint and the other on a network location – the downside obviously being that the two could get out of sync. The solution was to use the Sharepoint sync function which would create a local copy of the templates that is kept in line with Sharepoint and point the Workgroup location to the local directory. This works well and would potentially allow the sharing of other resources such as you have mentioned (Chart and SmartArt).

  4. apologies if my question is a little more simple – how do you change the ‘destination themes’ when cutting and pasting from one text box to another? I have the Design>Theme set to arial, I have the default font of the document sent to Arial, the default font of the text box set to arial, but when I simply Crtl V in text (even from the same box), it inserts Verdana font… John can you please help? Thanks 🙂

    • In the ppt/presentation.xml part of a presentation, there is a section called <p:defaultTextStyle>. In that section, if the font is set to Verdana, that will over-ride the default text box setting. Here’s my article explaining how to set default text box formatting: OOXML Hacking: Text Box Styles.

      In that xml part, look for a section starting with a:lvl1pPr. Within that section, change:

      <a:latin typeface="Verdana"/>

      to:

      <a:latin typeface="+mn-lt"/>

      to fix that problem.

  5. Hi John, Thanks for amazing tips on several subjects. We have just updated our ppt template globally. Our head office sent it to us, but everything in it was in Japanese, so we needed to change that into English and update some template slides that we need in our work. However, when we copy from an old PowerPoint into the new template we only get an empty slide. We use a shared network template, but we have had many challenges with this one! When creating a new document the template is not showed properly in “New”, it looks like a word template. It is only when we click that it appears as a ppt template. I hope it was not too messy…
    Regards Christopher

    • Sadly, there are many people out there creating PowerPoint templates who don’t actually know how PowerPoint works. We can help, if you can’t get it operational.

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