• June 2014
  • Posted By Practical Editing

For some, template means those options you may be given when opening a Microsoft Office program, which are often not quite what you need, or appear too rigid to be useful.

For others, it’s a search term for when one has forgotten where to put the date and contact information for the addressee and addressor in a letter to the landlord.

Forget all that. Stop using the last document you prepared and then selecting ‘save as’; this often leads to old information being included, or the old document being lost as you’ve accidently hit ‘save’ too soon. Templates can prevent mistakes and save time.

Templates can be styles and formatting only, or can include what goes where in the document, as well as automatic text so your reports are easily compared. You can make your own templates, or have someone make them for you, and save much time and frustration.

You can use them for study, at home, or to present the agenda and minutes for the school fundraising committee. They’re most useful, however, in the workplace. From invoices to letters; tenders to reports; policies, procedures, work instructions, calculations, and presentations. You don’t need to feel constricted by a template. A person managing the templates can adjust them as needed to reflect a change in policy, process, or style, and so ensure the update is universally adopted in your organisation.

For example:

  • Information from a spreadsheet can be automatically entered into a document, with the font type, size and spacing all pre-set;
  • All the documents and spreadsheets coming out of your business can be consistent in style and format. This helps your brand look polished and professional;
  • Linking templates with policies, procedures, and work instructions can help your organisation with ISO9001 accreditation requirements; and
  • Using templates on a report with many contributors certainly makes editing that report much simpler, limiting problems with cross referencing, tables of figures and contents, and references.

So get organised and make a template or five. Taking 40 minutes to develop a template that will save you 30 minutes of formatting for each subsequent document starts paying back almost immediately.

Enjoy a future free from fighting with headers and footers, page numbers, inconsistent paragraph spacing, and unexpected items in the table of contents.