If you are a Google Docs power user, you know that there are free templates available. If you happen to subscribe to G Suite, you know that you can easily upload your own templates to the template library. However, when using the free version of Google Docs, you are limited to the given templates found in the library. While that's not a deal breaker (as there are plenty of good templates available), there may come a time when you need to work with a template of your own creation. What do you do? With a bit of creativity and work, you can make this happen.
I'm going to show you how I work with my own templates in Google Drive. It's not an ideal solution, but it works.
What you need
The only things you need is a Google account and some templates to add to Google Drive. That's it. It doesn't matter what tool you used to create those templates, so long as the text can be copied and pasted.
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Creating your templates
How you create your templates is up to you. You could use one offered by Google, or you could create a template in a tool like LibreOffice or MS Word. The one thing you won't do is upload those locally created templates to Google Drive. Create them (or assemble them from various sources) and hold off.
Create a templates folder
Open Google Drive and create a folder called Templates. If you're unsure how to do this, click the New button (Figure A). From the drop-down, click Folder. Name this folder Templates.
Adding your templates
If you have locally saved .odt, .docx, .ods, .xlsx, etc. files, you'll need to copy/paste the contents into new files in the Templates directory. So change into that newly created directory, click New, and then select the type of file you want to create as a template (Docs, Sheets, Slides). Copy the content from your template and paste it into the new document. With that content copied, make sure to name the document appropriately (such as Form Letter Template, Resume Template, Hardware Assignment Template, etc.).
If you made use of one or more of the available Google Docs templates, those files are automatically saved in the root directory of Google Drive. So click on My Drive and you should find any document you created from a template. If you're unsure how to use the Template Gallery, it's simple:
- Open one of the templates from the Google Docs Template Gallery.
- Edit the template to suit your needs.
- Name the template accordingly.
- Close the file.
That new template file will be found in My Drive. To move it into your Templates directory, right-click that file and select Move To (Figure B).
Change into the Templates directory and start using your newly created template.
Using your templates
Here's where it gets slightly less than efficient. If you open one of those templates and add your new content into it, it's no longer a template. Instead, what you need to do is navigate into your Templates directory, right-click the template to be used, and select Make a copy (Figure C).
You should now see a new file with a name starting with Copy of. Rename that file to suit your needs, open it, and edit it accordingly.
And that, my friends, is how you can make use of your own templates in Google Drive. It's not a perfect system, but when the templates in the free version of the Drive Template Gallery aren't enough (and you prefer to use Drive as your office suite of choice), this is one option you can use.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.