Make your Office templates available to all users

Most companies and organizations have a good ambition that everyone should use the company’s standardized Office templates. The templates must follow the correct graphic profile and have the correct outline. Unfortunately, few companies and organizations succeed in this.

Wrong file types

A common misunderstanding is that an Office template is a “Reusable Office file” with the file extension .docx .xlsx or .pptx that you copy and change. Nothing could be more wrong.

“Real” Office templates have the following file extensions:

  • Word = .dotx
  • Excel = .xltx
  • PowerPoint = .potx

Stored in the wrong place

Sometimes the templates are on a file server, hopefully, the templates are at least stored somewhere on the company’s Microsoft 365 tenant (sometimes in a document library in SharePoint, sometimes they are even in a Team or spread across several Teams and channels.)

Sometimes you might even have your Office templates stored in an external solution that users have to log into and download the templates from. This often means that you miss when a new version has arrived and you continue, blissfully unaware, to work with your locally stored downloaded outdated templates.

Wrong Access rights

An interesting detail is that when you store these “Reusable Office files” (that are not valid template formats), in an area where most users have editor rights, it is guaranteed that sooner or later someone has been inside and changed one or more of these files.

A good way to avoid these problems is to create “real” Office templates and store them in an area where only a few people have editor rights while all employees have read rights.

But is there an easy way to make these templates available to all users directly from Word, Excel and PowerPoint? The answer is a resounding YES! Keep reading to find out how.

In the article Create an organization assets library on Microsoft Learn, you find a great manual that shows how to solve this with a SharePoint site, a little configuration and a little PowerShell scripting. The purpose of my blog post is to make it even easier for you with a simple and clarifying step-by-step description on what has to be done in SharePoint.

Here’s how to proceed:

The SharePoint site

Create a SharePoint site. We have no need for an M365 group and we only want a few editors but all users must have read rights. With this as a background, I usually prefer to create a Communication site.

Give the site an intuitive and logical name. (If you have a naming standard, you must of course follow it when you set up the site.)

Creating the site is as easy as usual. Now we just need to configure and customize it.

The Document libraries

I prefer to create two new document libraries instead of using the default document library belonging to the site. In this way, it becomes easier with clear names for the two document libraries that we need for this solution.

We start by creating the document library that will contain the Office templates

Click on the Gear and select Site Contents

Click on “New” and select “Document library”.

I’m so old fashioned so I don’t like when there are spaces in the urls. Therefore, I first write the name of the document library in one word. After entering the name, click “Create”

Now the document library is established but the name is not so beautiful when it is written together, therefore we change it easily in this way.

Now the name looks as it should.

The Picture Library

Now we continue to create the document library that will contain the “reusable pictures”. Click on the Gear and select “Site Contents”.

Click on “New” and select “Document library”.

Do the same maneuver here as before. Write the name together so that you avoid urls with spaces (or obscure characters as a substitute for spaces).

And change the display name like this.

Now you have a correct display name.

Simplify the top navigation of the site

As you can see, the menu shows more information than is necessary. Therefore, it can be smart to hide the menu items that are not relevant to the use of the site.

Click Edit in the top navigation. Then delete the menu items that should not be displayed. Click “Save” when you are done with this.

Now the menu contains what it needs to contain. The simple is usually the best.

Upload the image or images you want to use for the document libraries

Go to your image library and upload the image that you want to use as “ThumbnailURL”. (The image that you want to appear in the card’s background in the “file picker”)

Now the image (or images) is in place.

Customize the start page

The simpler you build a solution and the more clear information and instructions you put on the start page, the easier it will be for those who will use the solution to maintain, administer and make your company’s internal Office templates available to your users. Hopefully it also makes it easier for you as this minimizes the need for you to have to assist them afterwards. That’s why it’s smart to customize the look and content of the home page

Go to the SharePoint site’s home page and click Edit. Customize the page with the web parts and the text(s) you wish to appear there. Write a text about how this site works, which file formats represent Office templates for Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Please also add information about who is the contact person and responsible for your company’s Office templates so that users know who to contact if they are missing something or discover an error in one of the templates. When you are satisfied, save/publish the page.

Configure the site’s access rights

All users in the organization must have read rights to the site, therefore you should add “Everyone except external users” to the site’s Visitors group. In the site’s Members group, you add the people who should be responsible for your templates and be able to upload and structure them.

Upload templates to the Office template library

This is the easiest of all. Once you’ve created some Office templates and know where they’re stored, just upload them to the template library in “the usual SharePoint way”.

Now the SharePoint site is created and configured correctly. We have set up the necessary (and correct) rights. Some “real” document templates are in place. Now we just need to run some PowerShell to make the templates available to the users. But before that, you first need to copy some urls that you will use when customizing your PowerShell script.

Copy relevant urls

Please note that the addresses below are examples only. You must copy the corresponding addresses from the site you have set up.

  • The address of your Office Template Library “OfficeTemplates”
  • The address of your Picture Library
  • The address of the uploaded image file you want to use as ThumbnailURL


Some important things to keep in mind when doing this:

  • Keep in mind that in order to run these scripts, you must either be a Global Administrator or a SharePoint Administrator.
  • Make sure you have the latest version of SharePoint Online Management Shell. If you don’t have it, you can download the SharePoint Online Management Shell here.

The commands that now remain to be executed can be found and copied here: Use Microsoft PowerShell to specify a library as an organization assets library Then customize these commands with the login information and addresses you just copied.

Now it’s just a matter of having a little patience

After running the commands, it can take quite a while before it all works. Sometimes it can take up to a whole day before the template library becomes visible in the desktop applications of Word, Excel and PowerPoint

Details and official information

Detailed information, prerequisites, licensing, version requirements and possible limitations can be found here: Create an organization assets library.