Implementing Custom Business Templates in your SharePoint 2010 Departmental Document Libraries

This blog post has been sitting in my drafts folder for almost 2 years (pathetic). So, after finding it again, I figured I’ll get it out there in case it helps someone.  This is an update from my original post some 3 years ago for SharePoint 2007 (and I suppose a 2013 version is due, though would be hardly different from this one).

Business Requirement

Your business needs to configure a document library to use your standard company templates, to create new documents such as Formal Letterhead, Fax Cover Sheets and other ‘pre-baked’ templates. This post will focus on a Business Requirements template that will be used for all new projects.

The Solution – Apply Custom Content Types to a Document Library

There are a couple of steps necessary to make this happen:

  1. Give some thought to *where* these templates are going. Are you about to place them in the appropriate site and/or document library? Have you planned this out effectively? Do you need to reuse this template in another site (this would also establish what site you create the content type in; the root, a top level site or just within a single sub site)
  2. Establish/Prepare your Document Templates and tuck them in a folder somewhere, ready for upload to your site as the base templates (Leave them in their standard file types, such as a Word .DOC file – they don’t need to be .DOT template files like they would if they were launched in Word). Better still (and too many steps to cover here), store them in a dedicated Document Template Library) and then link to the URL’s, instead of uploading them
  3. Create your Content Types within the site they will be used, or in the site above (perhaps the top level site collection, if you want to ‘reuse’ the content types in sub sites)
  4. Configure your document library to ‘manage content types’
  5. Plug in (add) your content types

That’s all there is to it.

Note that I’m not going to cover customized views or adding metadata (columns) to either the document library or to the Content Types themselves, however, you should note that you can do so much more, to customize your document library and extend it with Content Types, than simply specifying a template to use. And there are several ways to skin this particular cat, but I’m going to provide the quick and dirty approach so you can get back to whatever else you may need to get done. 

Here’s the final result when done

Why not start with the end result, to help clarify what we are intending to accomplish/build here.


And there it is. With some immediate business benefits, including:

  • The ability for you to provide a list of *branded templates* that users can select from *anywhere*
  • By starting with the template, in the document library, when you click save it will want to store it right back in the library saving the whole ‘browsing/Save As (or gasp! Upload) process.


And here’s the walkthrough version of the solution

1) Choose a location for the templates

The templates should be located…

2) Have your templates ready

Do the prep work so you aren’t mucking about with design when you should be mucking in SharePoint 🙂

Simply upload your template to the chosen location:





3) Create your Content Types

Choose Site Actions, Site Settings to get to your Content Type Gallery. (Note: placement of these Content Types can be important. If you want to reuse them in other sites, be sure they are at the top level site of where they might be need, which is often the root site collection).



Choose Site content types…


…then click ‘Create’



Complete all the necessary fields to create the Content Type

  • Give it a useful name as this will appear in the dropdown list (no need to put “new” in front, as they library will do that for you)
  • Give it a meaningful description, possibly with important instructions on the documents storage, use and disposal as this will appear under the name providing guidance for your users
  • Choose an appropriate Parent Content Type (often you’ll choose ‘Document’)
  • Bind them to a group so they are easy to find/categorize. In the example above, I’m adding a new group, itgroove Content Types.



Now you will want to attach your Document Template to the Content Type. To do this, choose Advanced Settings.


Choose Upload a New Document Template and browse to where you stored your prepared Document Templates (or if you have stored your Templates in a dedicated Document Library, you’ll enter a link to the template instead using the ‘Enter a URL’ option).



Also, you should probably mark the Content Type as Read Only to protect it from the odd oopsie. By doing this, you’ll need to remove the ‘Read Only’ flag before making changes, causing you to ‘pause and think’ about the ramifications of your change, which is never a bad thing. 🙂


4) Configure your Document Library to allow management of Content Types

Now go to your Document Library (or libraries, you can reuse these things you know, and nobody says you can’t use more than one document library – heck, I have lots of them meeting lots of different business requirements, differing version history needs, etc.)


In the Document Library’s General Settings, choose ‘Advanced Settings’…


…and set the ‘Allow Management of Content Types’ option to “Yes”


5) Plug in your Content Types

Once you have enabled the ability to manage Content Types in your document library, you’ll see a new ‘Content Types’ section. In it, will be the default Document Content Type that you chose when you created the Document Library in the first place (you know, that dropdown that said “Select a document template to determine the default for all new files created in this document library”).

What we want to do here is ‘Add’ more Content Types, our defined Content Types.

So, choose ‘Add from existing site content types’, then select your group you created (or the built in group you might have decided to store them in)…


…then select the types you want to launch from this document library and choose ‘Add’.


The content types will appear in the right-hand box; click ‘Ok’.


As pictured below, the new Content Types have been added to the listing of available types.


Now when you click the New Document menu from within this Document Library, the new Business Requirements template is listed in the drop-down.


Some final notes and recommendations

  • Store your document templates in the format that best fits the needs of your organization. If you have a mix of Word 2003 and Word 2007 software out there, save your templates in 2003 format, so that everyone can use the templates. Saving them as .docx (2007) will limit who succeeds with using these templates
  • You can change the order of the Content Types in the list/dropdown and you can even hide the standard/plain “Document” type so they can’t create any blank documents (we don’t want no stinking blank documents…). To do this, choose the “Change new button order and default content type
  • Finally, many people don’t know this but you can actually change which templates appear in the “New” list, on a folder by folder basis (another reason you may not abandon folders altogether). Look for this option (see below), by hiding the templates that shouldn’t appear…



2 responses to “Implementing Custom Business Templates in your SharePoint 2010 Departmental Document Libraries

  1. We have created a custom template and stored it. The problem is that 100% of our documents are created on our desktops, then uploaded. I don’t see any articles saying how to show only the custom template on the Content Type dropdown box. I’ve already set the SharePoint 2010 default “Document” template to Not Visible- but apparently that only applies to new docs created directly in the library. Our folks never do that. And the dropdown box still shows “Document” as the first (and only) immediately visible option for uploads. Our folks won’t click the dropdown and choose the alternate, custom template which is listed second (and not immediately visible).
    Hope you can answer this – I see only one similar question out there, from nine months ago on another site, unanswered as of now. Help!

    1. Hey Nancy, if I understand what you are asking, I believe:
      1. You have documents already in the library, that are associated with the “Document” Template
      2. You don’t want future documents tied to the document template

      If the above is true, you have some work to do. As what you really want is to ‘Delete’ the “Document” Content Type from the library so that it isn’t available at all. However, until all of the existing documents are changed to a different content type, you won’t be able to delete the content type (you can’t delete/detach a content type from a library if it is in use, in that library).

      Hope that helps.

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