For most people, a template means an Excel file (XLS or XLSX) that they open, modify and “Save As” a different filename.

A true template is an Excel file with an XLT or XLTX extension (depends which version of Excel you are using). When you select File > New (or Office Button > New in 2007), you can select a Template as the starting point for your new workbook. When you save the workbook, even if you select Save (as opposed to Save As), because you started from a template, Excel will not overwrite the existing template. It displays the Save As dialog box and prompts for a filename.

Note that in some versions of Excel, when you create a new workbook, you can actually choose to use an existing file as your starting point. If you do this, when you save the file, Excel prompts for a filename, thereby avoiding overwriting the original file. It does this because you started with the File > New command and not File > Open.

The newer versions of Excel come with a range of templates that cover all kinds of subjects, both business and personal. Examples of these templates include a wedding budget, a household budget, a loan calculator and a to-do list.

Excel2011Templates

There’s also hundreds of templates available to download, for free, from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/excel-templates-FX102828204.aspx. Once you’ve downloaded a template from this site (or any other site for that matter), it has to be saved to the correct folder in order to be available when you create a new workbook.

Windows

  • Vista & Windows 7 – C:\Users\user_name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Templates
  • Windows XP – C:\Documents and Settings\user_name\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates

Mac OSX

  • ~/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/User Templates/My Templates
  • The templates that come with Excel 2011 are stored in Macintosh HD/Applications/Microsoft Office 2011/Office/media/templates

UPDATE: The path has changed for Office 2016. It is now ~/Library/Group Containers/UBF8T346G9.Office/User Content/Templates.

If you performed an upgrade of Office, you will still have the ~/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/User Templates/My Templates directory, but the apps won’t look in that location.