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Changing Document Library Templates

This article assumes you have a basic understand of how SharePoint works.


SharePoint provides us with document libraries for use to store documents for collaboration. We can add documents either by uploading existing ones, or create new ones by clicking “New Document”.


Figure 1: Document library toolbar


Whenever we click on “New Document” button, SharePoint will fire up Microsoft Word and presents us with an empty word document. When we save, word will save it back to the document library.


Consider the following scenarios.

  1. Most companies require employees to use a certain format for all office documents.
  2. Documents stored in document library are similar. E.g. Progress Reports, Leave Application Forms

The above are not exhaustive, and I’m sure you will be able to come up with more scenarios as you continue reading this article. For the above scenarios, it is not productive to have a new blank document, copy and paste the relevant information / format into the document before you working on the document. This is where templates come into place.


SharePoint document library allows you to specify one document template for each library you create. When you click on “New Document”, you are actually using a document template, just that it is blank. So how do you change the template? Glad you have asked this question. ;p


Uploading the template

First of all, you need to upload the template into the form directory of the document library.

  1. Navigate to the document library.
  2. Click on Explorer View.

    Figure 2: Explorer View of the document library.


  3. Click on “Forms” folder
  4. Click on “Upload Document” button on the toolbar
  5. Select the template you want to use and click “Save and Close” button on the toolbar.


Next, you need to tell the document library to use the template you have just uploaded.


  1. Click on “Modify settings and columns” link on the actions pane.
  2. Click on “Change general settings” link
  3. Under Document Template, key in the template url.


    Figure 3: Document Template URL setting


  4. Click on “OK” button to save the changes.


When you click on “New Document” button, your new template will be used to create new document.


Saving this document library as a list template


What happen if you need to have several document libraries all using the same document template? Do you go to each document library, and repeat the steps outlined above? Well, if those document libraries already exist, you have no other choice but to repeat the steps for each document library. However, if you need to create new document libraries that use the same document template, you can save this document library as a template, and use it to create other document libraries. When you save the document library as a template, the contents in the forms directory is stored into the list template, with the document library settings.



Any thing I need to take note of?

Certainly, the ability to change document template will make life slightly easier, enhancing productivity. However, if you are observant enough, you will notice that each document library has its own copy of its document template. What happen if you need to modify the template? Do I have to go to each document library to update the template?


Do use the comments feature and discuss with me how to overcome the above problem. If you can’t add a comment, chances are that you might need an account with SgDotNet. Please register as its free, and I promise we will guard your privacy.

Published Sunday, August 21, 2005 6:35 PM by kitkai


# Using Central Templates in SharePoint Part 1@ Sunday, November 06, 2005 2:49 PM

# re: Changing Document Library Templates@ Friday, January 06, 2006 6:53 AM

Ok how Do I keep from having to go to each library to update the template?

by Troy

# re: Changing Document Library Templates@ Wednesday, March 08, 2006 2:18 PM

I want to know that can we provide different templates for every folder in a document library if yes how
Please email me your reply.
Muhammad Ali Inayat