Microsoft. Word.

How to apply a .dotx template to your existing Word files (.docx)?

This post was most recently updated on December 7th, 2022.

2 min read.

This article explains how you can apply formatting and styles from a Microsoft Office Word Document Template (.dotx) to your already existing Word Document (.docx). You might want to do this if you’ve got a file with plenty of content, especially if it’s stuff that might break when copy-pasting (embedded media, pictures with text around them, table of contents, references – actually, anything else than just normal paragraphs).

Took me a while, but this article documents how to do it. Mostly so that I can just come back to it when I need to figure it out next time. In 5 or so years.


This was somehow more complicated than I thought. I mean – applying a template, shouldn’t that be like a 1-click thing in Microsoft Word? Isn’t that like a thing you do a couple of times a week if you’re actually using Word properly?

I guess… Not. I couldn’t even remember if I had ever done it. Maybe I hadn’t, now that I think about it. But now I figured out how to do it!

Time needed: 10 minutes

Applying a .dotx-template to an existing .docx -file

  1. Prerequisites

    As a prerequisite, you should have a .dotx template file. And a “normal” Word document (.docx). And a burning desire to update the styles in that .docx file with those coming from that .dotx file.

    These will suffice.

  2. Enable Developer ribbon

    Might seem a bit unintuitive, but in order to properly use templates, you need to enable the “Developer” section of the ribbon. You can do this by navigating to File > Options > Customize Ribbon and then selecting the “Developer” section from the list.

    Finding the "Developer" section for your Office Ribbon in Microsoft Word.

    Chances are it’s the only section that’s disabled by default. See – that’s how much Microsoft values us, developers, at the end of the day! 😉

  3. Select “Templates” > “Document Templates”

    Now we’re getting into the real stuff! You should have a new “Developer” tab in your Ribbon, under which you can select “Document Templates”.

    Selecting "Document templates" from your Developer Ribbon in Microsoft Office Word.
    Go ahead and click that button. Or icon. Or whatever it is now called.

  4. And finally – apply the template!

    Now we’ll finally get to the point where we actually select a template to apply to our file!

    The Dialog that opens by clicking the icon/button/thing in the last step is not as clear as it appears. And it looks about as clear as mud. So that’s a great start.

    But we’ll get through this together! Let’s see – below is what the dialog will look like:
    How to apply a .doct template to a .docx file

    I’ve found the proper way to apply the template to be by clicking the “Attach…” -button, navigating to your .dotx -file from the File Explorer sub-dialog, making sure nothing else is selected in the “Global templates and add-ins”-box, and clicking “OK”.

    But if you find a way that works better, let me know!

And there you have it! Now your styles and fonts and all that jazz should match the template. Or that’s my experience anyhow 😀

No matter how it goes, let me know in the comments section below! I’d love to hear if it worked.

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