How to Create Template Letters

By Veronica James

Whether you're working from home or you run a multinational business, you write some standard letters on a frequent basis. You might be sourcing and approaching new clients for work or sending a receipt and a thank you letter for invoiced payments. Rather than type a letter out from the beginning each time, store the bare bones of the letter as a template document and add the specific details each time you need to send it.

Create a Template From an Existing Document

Step 1

Write or type out the basic wording of the body of the letter and edit until you're satisfied with the tone and the information included. Refer to previous examples of this kind of letter to make sure you don't miss any salient points.

Step 2

Edit to leave space at the top and the bottom for address, date and salutation, and for the signing-off at the end of the letter. Adjust the margins, paragraphing and font to fit with any existing house style.

Step 3

Check where templates are currently stored on your computer by selecting "Tools" on the menu bar and clicking "Options." Find the tab marked "File locations" and select "User templates." If you want to change the location or create a new one, click on the "User templates" line and click the "Modify" button underneath the open pane.

Step 4

Click on "File" in the top menu bar and scroll down to "Save as." On the drop-down menu for document format, choose the one which gives you the option to save as a template. Word 2007 offers a "Save in" option with Windows XP, with the target directory named "Trusted templates", and a computer using Vista will give the option to save as a "Template" under "Favorite links." Open Office 3 saves a template as an "ODF Text Document Template."

Step 5

Choose a name for the document which incorporates the subject of the letter and the word "Template" so that you will know this is the original document, and save it in your "Templates" directory.

Step 6

Pull up the template document the next time you need to write this letter. Before adding the specific details, go to "File", select "Save as" and give the document a new name to differentiate it from the template. You probably have a specific folder or directory for the addressee or for the type of letter, such as a general query letter or the announcement of a monthly meeting.

Create a New Template

Step 1

Open up a blank document in Windows 7, and in Microsoft Office in Windows XP, and create a letter. Save as in Step 4 above.

Step 2

Click on "Templates" on the Open Office menu and click "New" at the top of the menu. Select "Text document." This opens up a screen for the creation of a new template that you can save with an identifying name.

Step 3

Create a new template from an existing template by opening up the required document, and following the "Save as" steps as above. Make sure you differentiate between the two templates in the filenames you choose.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use the mail merge application in your word processing application to combine a template letter with a data source of information such as name, address, salutation, dates, times and anything else which needs to be included. This application automatically inserts each recipient's personal data into a copy of the letter.
  • When pulling up a template document, resist the temptation to type the details into the template before you save the document with a different name. It is too easy to click "Save" and to lose the template, resulting in your having to create the template letter again.