A few weeks ago, I created a Tips and Tricks video on creating and using personal templates in Microsoft Project. The step that is required for using personal templates is not obvious, so that I thought I would write a blog post article about this process.
Saving a Personal Project Template
You can create a new project template using one of several methods:
- Start with a blank project schedule and then completely build the project from scratch. As you might surmise, this method requires a lot of work.
- A second method is to start with a completed project, clean it up, and then save it as a template.
- Create a new project from one of the free templates that ship with Microsoft Project (which you see on the New page in the Backstage), modify the project, and then save it as a template.
For the purposes of this blog post article, I have opted for the third method. Figure 1 shows a new project which I created from the default Market Research template and which I then heavily modified in preparation for saving it as a template.
Figure 1: Gantt Chart view of the modified project
You can make any type of modifications to a project that you want to save as a template. Some of the modifications I made to my project include:
- I used Text Styles to format every summary task using the turquoise blue color.
- I formatted the Gantt bars to display the Critical Path.
- I modified some existing task dependencies and also added missing task dependencies in the project schedule.
- I added five Generic resources to the project team in the Resource Sheet view of the project.
- I created a customized Timeline view in the project.
Once you have finished modifying your project, you are ready to save it as a personal project template by completing the following steps:
- Click the File tab and then click the Save As tab in the Backstage. Microsoft Project displays the Save As page, such shown in Figure 2
Figure 2: Save page in the Backstage
- In the lower left corner of the Save As page in the Backstage, click the Browse button. Microsoft Project displays the Save As dialog shown in Figure 3. By default, Microsoft Project initially navigates to your Documents folder.
Figure 3: Save As dialog
- In the Save As dialog, navigate to the folder where you intend to save personal project templates. I personally like to use the Custom Office Templates subfolder of the Documents folder.
- In the Save As dialog, enter a name for the template in the File name field.
- Near the bottom of the Save As dialog, click the Save as type pick list and select the Project Template (*.mpt) item on the list, such as shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4: Select the Project Template file type
- In the Save As dialog, click the Save button. Microsoft Project displays the Save As Template dialog shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5: Save As Template dialog
- In the Save As Template dialog, select every checkbox and then click the Save button.
- Close the newly-saved template in Microsoft Project.
Setting the Project Option for the Personal Templates Location
Your next step is to tell Microsoft Project where you save your personal project templates. To do this, click the File tab and then click the Options tab in the Backstage. In the Project Options dialog, click the Save tab, such as shown in Figure 6.
Figure 6: Project Options dialog – Save page
In the middle of the save page, you will see a section named Save templates with a single field named Default personal templates location. By default, this field is blank in Microsoft Project because the software does not know where you save your personal project templates. Click the Browse button at the right end of the Default personal templates location field. Microsoft Project displays the Modify Location dialog shown in Figure 7.
Figure 7: Modify Location dialog
In the Modify Location dialog, navigate to the folder where you save your personal project templates. Select that folder and then click the OK button. The Save templates section of the Project Options dialog shows the folder which you selected, such as shown in Figure 8. Click the OK button to close the Project Options dialog and to apply the selected value in the Save templates section of the dialog.
Figure 8: Save templates section shows the selected folder
Creating a New Project from a Personal Project Template
After setting the Default personal templates location value in the Project Options dialog, you are ready to begin creating new projects from your personal project templates. To do this, click the File tab and then click the New tab in the Backstage. Below the list of the four default templates shown at the top of the page, Microsoft Project displays a section with two links. If you click the Office link, the software displays the list of free project templates that ship with Microsoft Project. If you click the Personal link, the software displays your personal project templates, such as the Projility Market Research template shown in Figure 9.
Figure 9: Personal section displays personal project templates
Select the name of the personal template from which you want to create a new project. Microsoft Project displays a large dialog in which you can create the new project, such as the one shown in Figure 10.
Figure 10: Dialog from which to create a new project
Enter the Start date of the project in the Start Date field and then click the Create button. The software creates a new project that is a duplicate copy of your personal project template with the Start date set to your selected date, such as shown in Figure 11.