Words “Template gallery” overlaid on screenshots of the template galleries from Google Docs, Sheets, Slides (left side), Forms and Sites (right side).
Image: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

Google Workspace includes file templates for Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms and Sites available to anyone who uses these Workspace apps. The templates offered represent a wide range of common uses:

  • proposals, letters, newsletters and resumes (Docs),
  • budgets, calendars, attendance and invoices (Sheets),
  • photo albums, reports, pitches and proposals (Slides),
  • feedback, applications, order forms and registrations (Forms), and
  • project, team, class, club, personal and event sites (Sites).

The first two tips below cover how to access the template gallery and create a new item from one of these general templates.

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Most organizations that use Google Workspace also may create custom templates and make these templates available to people in the organization. Typically, these Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms or Sites items are formatted to meet the organization’s brand standards. The last three tips below address Admin controls over templates, as well as how to identify potential files to serve as templates and then submit these items in the template gallery.

How to create an item from a template

To create a new Google Docs, Sheets, Slides or Forms file from a template, go to Google Drive on the web, select +New, then move your cursor down to the > to the right of your selected app (i.e., Docs, Sheets, Slides or Forms) to access a menu that lets you create a new file from a template (Figure A).

Alternatively, if you already have a Docs, Sheets or Slides file open, you may select File | New | From template.

Figure A

Screenshot of Google Drive in a browser, with Google Forms menu active, with Blank form, Blank quiz, and From a template options displayed.
From Google Drive on the web, select +New, then the > to the right of Docs, Sheets, Slides or Forms to display the From a Template option.

How to access the template gallery on the web

You may access the template gallery directly from the home screen for Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms and the new Google Sites. If the template gallery is not displayed, you may need to modify a setting. In a desktop browser, go to the home screen for your selected app (e.g., https://docs.google.com/, https://forms.google.com, etc.), select the three-horizontal line menu in the upper left, select Settings, then check the box next to “Display recent templates on home screens” as in Figure B.

Figure B

Screenshot of Google Slides Settings, with box for Templates setting to Display recent templates on home screens selected.
Enable prominent access to the Template gallery in the Workspace app Settings.

On an app home screen page, you may select the Blank template or any of the six other templates displayed. To access all available templates, click on (or tap) the Template gallery menu (as shown in Figure C). When you select a template, the system will generate a new item with the template contents in your browser, which you may edit as desired.

Figure C

Screenshot of Google Slides, with the Template gallery displaying six options for a new presentation (Blank, along with five other template formats) and the
With the template gallery displayed on a Workspace app home screen, either select a template or click on the words Template gallery (circled in red) to access all available templates.

How a Workspace administrator may manage template options

From the Google Workspace Admin console, an administrator may manage both template and submission settings. To access the settings, sign in to the Admin console, then navigate to Apps | Google Workspace | Drive and Docs | Templates.

Figure D

Screenshot of Google Workspace Admin console, with Template settings showing custom templates enabled, and the default list of categories (e.g., Basics, Brochures & newsletters, etc.).
In most cases, a Workspace administrator will want to Enable custom templates for your organization. Additionally, many administrators also will want to customize template categories.

First, in most cases, administrators will want to make sure that the box to “Enable custom templates for your organization” is checked (Figure D). Once enabled, the administrator may customize template categories. Default options include categories such as Basics, Brochures & Newsletters, Finance & Accounting, Letters & Faxes and Reports & Proposals. I recommend you remove categories not needed for your organization and add new categories as appropriate.

Figure E

Screenshot of Google Workspace Templates Submission settings administrator options, with three choices: Open (anyone may submit templates), Moderated (anyone may submit, but an admin approves), or Restricted (only accounts given Docs Templates privilege may submit).
Workspace administrators in larger organizations may want to adjust the Submission settings to Moderated or Restricted, depending on the level of control desired over template submissions.

Second, an administrator may choose who is allowed to submit templates to the organization’s template gallery, as shown in Figure E. If no one needs to review or manage submitted templates, then select Open, which allows anyone in the organization to upload a template. However, many administrators will want to adjust the Submission setting to Moderated, which allows anyone to submit a template, but requires an admin to approve submitted items before the template is made available to everyone in the organization. The Restricted option only allows people who have an account with Doc Templates privileges enabled to submit templates, so might best be reserved for large organizations with full-time teams dedicated to document or branding standards.

Make sure to select Save after making any adjustments to either of the above settings.

How to identify potential files to submit as templates

Any file that people use frequently could be a candidate to serve as a template. Items such as letterhead documents, budget spreadsheets and standardized presentations make sense to be turned into templates.

To determine whether a particular item might make a good template, consider both the form and the content of your file. Highly formatted files, such as newsletters or presentations, for example, benefit from consistent use of fonts, font sizes, colors and logo placement. Similarly, proposals or press releases might benefit from consistent language used to describe your organization, activities or people. Better to get the desired form and content into a template once, than to plead repeatedly for people to comply with brand or content guidelines.

How to submit a file to your organization’s template gallery

Your organization’s template gallery works alongside the general Google template gallery: It displays as an additional tab (as shown in Figure F). Follow the steps detailed above to access the template gallery on the web, then select your organization’s name to the left of the General tab.

Figure F

Screenshot of Google Slides Template gallery, with the author’s organization (WolberWorks) name tab selected, with “No templates available” shown. Below this, a “Submit template” button displays.
In an organization, select your organization’s name (to the left of the General tab) to access any available organizational templates.

You may not only access all available organizational templates here, but also select the Submit template button. When you do, you’ll be prompted to select the item, enter a category for the file, as well as choose to submit a copy of the file (rather than the original) as shown in Figure G. Remember, an administrator may need to approve your template before it becomes available to everyone in your organization.

Figure G

Screenshot of the Submit a template box that appears, with Select a presentation (button), Submit a copy of this file instead of the original (slider) and Category (drop-down menu) options.
After you select the Submit template button, you’ll be prompted to select a file and choose a category for your template. (Your organization’s Workspace administrator may configure the available categories.)

What’s your experience with Google Workspace templates?

Which Workspace app templates do you use most often? If you have an organizational Workspace account, does your organization take advantage of the custom template gallery? Or do you still rely on specifically shared files, which you then use the File | Make a copy… command to duplicate? Let me know how you use templates within Google Workspace, either with a comment below or on Twitter (@awolber).

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