Set a custom template for a SharePoint library

Applies to: SharePoint Online, Office for business, Office 365 Admin, Office 365 Small Business, Office 365 Small Business Admin, SharePoint Server 2016, SharePoint Foundation 2013, SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise, SharePoint Server 2013, SharePoint Foundation 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, SharePoint Online operated by 21Vianet, SharePoint Online Small Business.

Once you create a SharePoint document library, you can establish a default file type to open anytime a new file is made (for example, you can set a PowerPoint file as the default file type to open). You can also customise the default file template for that library. For example, you can create a Word template with customised headers and footers, or other custom features, and make it the default template for that library. Then, when you or your users create a new file, it opens in the appropriate programme with your customised features.

Note: You must have Full control permissions for the library to set up a template.

2016, 2013, Online

Set up a default file type when you are creating a library

Follow this procedure to set a file type to open a blank file in the appropriate programme.

  1. Locate the site where you want to create your library.
  1. Click Settings Gear shaped settings button , and then press Add an App.
  1. Choose Document Library.
  1. Click Advanced Options.
  1. Insert a name, optional description, versioning, and if applicable, whether you want the library to obtain e-mail.
  1. Pick the default application file format and version from the Document Template drop-down.
  1. Select Create.

Customise the default template for a document library

Use this procedure to customise the default template. There are two ways you can change the default template:

  • If your document or form library has a default file template for a programme supported with SharePoint, then you can alter the default template.
  • For other programmes, you cannot physically modify the default template, but you can copy a new template file to the Forms folder of the library to specify a custom template.

Edit the default file template

  1. Find the site where your library is.
  1. In SharePoint Server, on the ribbon, click the Library tab, then pick Library Settings.

For SharePoint Online, click Settings Gear shaped settings button , and then press Library settings.

  1. Below General Settings, click Advanced settings.
Click advanced settings from settings window
  1. In the Document Template section, under the Template URL field, click Edit Template. One of the following happens:

If your site is a part of an Office 365 subscription, then at this point, you may be asked to enter your Office 365 subscription username and password.

  • Document library – The template launches in an application that is applicable to SharePoint and that is associated with the file type of the current template. For example, Word opens if the default template is a Word template, or Excel opens if the default template is an Excel worksheet.
  • Form library -The template opens either in a programme supported bySharePoint, either an XML-based form design programme, such as InfoPath, or an XML editor.
Edit template
  1. Edit the default library template. For SharePoint Online, save the template with a new file name. Exit the programme if you no longer need it open, or switch to your site.

Note: If people on your site already filled out forms that were based on the original template, consider how any changes to the template may affect those forms. For example, adding a field that users are required to fill out may cause errors to appear in the original forms that were filled out before the field was added.

Note: For SharePoint Online, the custom template must have a different file name than the default. Use the client’s Save As feature to save the file to the Forms folder with a new file name. For example, for Word, don’t use the default filename template.dotx.

  1. Depending on your form design programme, you may need to republish the template to the library on your site from your programme.
Select a template
  1. In your site, at the bottom of the Document or Form Library Advanced Settings page, and click OK.

Specify a custom file template

  1. Design and save your custom template in a supported programme with SharePoint. Log its location, and then switch to SharePoint.

Note: If the default document template is named anything other than template.dotx, no default templates will be displayed in the list or library.

  1. Find the site containing the library for which you want to specify a custom template.

Option 1: (From Modern UX of the Library)
New > Add Template

Add Template

Option 2:

  1. You must use Internet Explorer for this step. In SharePoint Online, click All Documents on the top right, then click View in File Explorer. For SharePoint Server, click the Library tab on the ribbon, and then in the Connect & Export group, click Open with Explorer.

Important: If File Explorer does not open or you see an error message, you may have to add your site as a Trusted site in your browser settings. For more info, see Open in Explorer or View with File Explorer in SharePoint.

Click advanced settings from settings window
  1. In File Explorer, browse to find your newly formed custom template.
  1. Right-click the file, and then click Copy on the shortcut menu.
  1. Click the Back button until you return to the library, and then click the Forms folder to open it.
  1. Right-click in a blank area in the folder window, and then click Paste on the shortcut menu.
  1. Exit File Explorer and return to site.
  1. Click Site Contents on the left.
  1. Find your document library under Contents, hover over the name, click the ellipses (…), and then click Settings.

If you don’t see the commands above, you may be in classic SharePoint. In that case, go to your document library, and on the ribbon, click the Library tab, then Library Settings.

  1. Under General Settings, click Advanced settings.
  1. In the Document Template section, do one of the following:

Document library – Type the address of your custom template in the Template URL box. The location is the Web address of the template on the site, relative to the name of the site. For example, if your template is called Watermark.dotx, and you add it to the Forms folder of the Shared Documents, document library, you would type the following:

Shared Documents/Forms/Watermark.dotx

Form Library – Type the address of the custom template that you want to use in the Template URL box. The location is the Web address of the template on the site, relative to the name of the site. For example, if your template is called Orders.xml, and you add it to the Forms folder of the Purchases form library, you would type the following:


  1. Note: If the settings in the Document Template box are not available, an administrator may have set up multiple content types. To see whether multiple content types are enabled, verify that Yes is selected under Allow management of content types? in the Content Types section immediately above the Document Templates section. If it is, you must edit the template for the content type.

More information about file templates in a document or form library

Here are some tips and guidelines for creating and using templates.

The types of files you can or cannot store in a SharePoint library

Depending on the file you have in a library, you might encounter one of the following situations:

Files compatible with SharePoint technologies – For a user to make a file by using the New command in a document library, the file template has to produced from a programme that is functional with SharePoint, such as Microsoft Office Word. When you create a new file in a form library, the default programme can be an XML-based form design programme that is compatible with SharePoint, such as Microsoft InfoPath.

Other programme files – For most other programmes, you can still store and manage the file in the library. But rather than directly creating the file from the document library, you can create the file in your programme and then upload it to the library later.

Blocked programme files – For security reasons, some programme file types, such as .exe, are blocked from being stored in a library. For more information, see Types of files that cannot be added to a list or library.

The two types of libraries that use file templates

The two types of libraries that use templates are document and form libraries.

Document Libraries – You use a document library to store and manage many different file types, including documents, spreadsheets, presentations, text files, and other types of files. A document library is often the most common location on a site where you can create, collect, update, and manage files with team members and share with other colleagues throughout your business or enterprise. You can use a document library as a general-purpose file repository, or you can use it for a specific purpose. For example, a marketing team may have its own document library for planning materials, news releases, and publications.

Form Libraries – A form library provides a simple way for you to share and track XML-based forms that are used to gather information. For example, you can create a form library for your department’s expense report forms. The expense report form template is stored as the default file template in the form library. Each time someone creates an expense report, they open the template as a blank form, which contains the layout, fields, and calculations of the expense report. When someone fills out the form, the expense report data (and only the data) is saved as an XML file in the form library. By separating the data from the form, it’s much easier to process each expense report separately by other systems, merge the data, or export it for further processing and analysis.

Where the file templates are stored in the library

When a document or form library has a default file template, it is stored in the Forms folder of the library.

Open the library in File Explorer to see the Forms folder which contains the file template for the library.

Form folder for storing templates

Automatically, a document library has a file template, called template.dotx, but you can edit this file, if necessary. To specify a different template, you must first create it in a programme that is supported by SharePoint, such as Word, and then save it to the Forms folder of a library. Then, from the library, you specify the address of the custom template.

Instantly, a form library comes with a placeholder file, called template.xml that you must replace with a form template that you create.

Creating a file template for a form library

To create or customise a template in a form library, you can use an XML-based form design program that is compatible with SharePoint, such as InfoPath. There can be additional advantages to using a form design programme. For example, when you use InfoPath, you can do the following:

  • Create the form library and template directly from InfoPath.
  • Conveniently edit and re-publish the form template to the form library.
  • Merge the individual XML data files created from some form templates for further processing.
  • Promote the fields of XML data to library columns in the form library.

When a user creates a form, it opens by default in the form-editing programme that is compatible with SharePoint on the user’s client computer. If no compatible programme is installed, the form, if it is designed to open in the browser can open in the browser. If you want, you can specify that a form designed to open in a browser always opens in the browser. You can change the default behaviour in the Opening Documents in the Browser setting in the advanced settings of the library.

Go to Settings, Library Settings

In SharePoint online, click Settings and then Library Settings.

List Settings on ribbon

In SharePoint server, click Library Settings on the Library tab in the ribbon.

Click advanced settings from settings window

Settings for a document library.

Screenshot of the Advanced Settings page for a Document Library in SharePoint

Open documents in browser setting.

Using content types to set up document or form library templates

If multiple content types are enabled and templates are specified for those content types, the library uses the templates that are specified by the content types, and not the default file template. In this case, if you want to customise the templates for the library, you must change the content types. For more information on content types, see Introduction to content types and content type publishing.

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