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the old days, Word organized templates in folders that corresponded to the tabs
in the New dialog box: Reports, Memos, Publications, and so on. You could
delete a folder to remove the tab, add templates to a folder to make them
available in that tab, add your own folder to create a custom tab–in short,
you could manipulate the structure of the New dialog box in a way that made
sense. But starting with Word 2000, things got a little complicated behind the
scenes, and customizing the dialog box became a lost art.
one thing, Word began storing its built-in templates (Personal Fax,
Contemporary Letter, Professional Report, etc.) in C:\Program
Files\Microsoft Office\Templates\1033\. If you open the 1033 folder, you’ll see
the entire herd of Office templates, without any folders corresponding to the
tab names. Word sorts them via an internal mechanism that populates the correct
tabs on installation.
In addition, Word stores the Normal template and any custom
templates in a different location altogether. By default, they go in
C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates.
If you’ve used Tools | Options | File Locations to specify a different folder
for the User Templates item, that’s where Normal and the custom templates will
reside. Knowing this location is the key to making changes to the New dialog
box (called Templates in Word XP and 2003). Here are three ways to help your
users customize the availability of their templates.
Let’s say a user has a custom report template called Weekly
Metrics that her or she would like to have appear in Word’s Reports tab. Right
now, the Reports tab displays three prefab templates, put there by Word (Figure A). To add the Weekly Metrics template,
first go to the folder where custom templates are stored. For this example,
we’ll assume that’s the standard location, C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Application
Within the Templates folder, create
a folder called Reports. (The folder name has to match Word’s internal tab
name.) Now, just move the Weekly Metrics template into that folder. When the
user chooses New from the File menu, clicks On My Computer in the New Document
task pane, and clicks the Reports tab, the custom template will appear with
Word’s prefab templates (Figure B).
The process of creating a custom tab is a lot like the
previous technique, except that the folder you create can be named anything you
choose. If a user wants to add a Newsletter tab, for instance, just create a
folder called Newsletter inside the Templates folder. Then, place the desired
templates in it. When the user opens the Templates dialog box, the custom
Newsletter tab will appear (Figure C).
How many users do you know who actually find the default
tab structure in the New or Templates dialog box useful? Odds are good that
they use a handful of templates, if that, and tabs such as Legal Pleadings or
Other Documents are merely background noise when they go looking for the
template they need.
Unfortunately, you can’t just delete the built-in templates
in a particular category and have the tab go away. You have to use the Control
Panel’s Add Or Remove Programs applet to uninstall the tabs you want to get rid
of. Extra steps, but possibly worthwhile for the sake of productivity and ease
demonstrate, let’s remove the Memos tab in Word 2003:
Start | Control Panel | Add Or Remove Programs and then select Microsoft Office
and click Change.
Add Or Remove Features and click Next.
the Custom Setup window, select Choose Advanced Customization Of Applications
and click Next.
the Word item and then expand Wizards And Templates (Figure D).
on the Memos item and choose Not Available from the drop-down menu (Figure E).
When you open the Templates dialog
box, you’ll find the Memos tab and its contents are gone. You can run through
setup again to restore the tab and templates, if necessary.