Google Apps

Yes you can make Google Docs templates but do you really want to?

The definition of template in Microsoft Word is not the same definition used by Google Docs and if you treat them the same you may reveal more than you want to reveal to a much bigger audience than you suspect.

For those of us of a certain age and purporting to be members of certain professions, Microsoft Word is our security-blanket word processor. We are comfortable with it and relish in its familiarity (witness the continuing uproar over the change to the Office Ribbon interface).

Members of this group approach new-fangled cloud-based applications like Google Docs with a bit of trepidation. So anything Google can do to bring familiarity to their apps is appreciated.

You say template, I say what the...

One of the features familiar to long-time users of Word is the concept of the template. The ability to store pre-written documents with the repetitive bits we use every day already inserted gives us a warm feeling inside. Google Docs also has a feature called Template, but it is not exactly what you might think.

If you are using the free version of Google Apps, submitting one of your Docs templates to the template library means that template will be visible and useable by the entire Internet. If you are using the Enterprise version of Google Apps, your submitted templates will be available to the rest of the enterprise as determined by the administrative policy.

It is obvious that the way Word users define template is not the same way Google defines template.

Alternative suggestion

If you have an often-used document that you would like to "templatize" in Google Docs but don't want everyone to have access to it, I would suggest that you use the Make a copy feature.

Here's how: With your document open, click the File menu and navigate to the Make a copy menu item. (Figure A) You'll have to confirm and you can bring along any collaborators with the copy if you wish. (Figure B)

Figure A

Make a copy

Figure B

Yes copy and bring my friends

Now you can change the name of the copy document and start your modifications while keeping the template intact for the next time you need it.

That's the way I came up with to create templates in Google Docs, just off the top of my head - do you have a better suggestion?

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

4 comments
cwmw.andy
cwmw.andy

Verdict is still out in my opinion, now I cannot even find how to create templates.... another dropped feature?

andrewblack512
andrewblack512

Is this still the case.... Your suggesting is pretty good but I am disorganised enough that I will go and add "real" content to the template by mistake. I have made a slight refinement. Once I created the (not)-template document I set it so I cant edit it (having first given ownership to a spare google account which I need to log in when I want to change it.

seanferd
seanferd

Me, I hardly touch the stuff. I'll admit that I rarely use Word or other word processors any longer, as I tend to prefer text editors or HTML for more glorified productions. My heaviest usage of Word was probably for RTF for WinHelp files. But for those who dig web apps and public clouds, you have a darned fine suggestion. Where has that thumbs-up button gone to? :-bd is the best I can do.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Do you have a better way of creating and using templates in Google Docs? Do you share your templates to the world or even just to your colleagues in the enterprise?

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