Best Practices When Creating Your Own Template in Confluence
Templates are an incredible tool in Confluence that can speed up work by offering the perfect mix of formatting and freedom. Confluence offers over 100 templates to choose from, but what do you do if none of those templates suit your exact needs? You can create your own template that fits your team, a process that is much less daunting than it appears at first. In this article you will find:
When you should be creating your own template rather than using one of Confluence’s existing ones.
How to start building a template and important tips on how to get the most out of your template.
Ways to get your template into the hands of your colleagues so they can start using it for their work.
When to Make a Template
Before rushing off to make a template, first establish whether you really need make one in the first place. Don’t create extra work if you don’t need to. There are two key questions to ask before making a template.
Is this content where a template would help? Templates are for repeating content – something you and your team will use and re-use for the same type of content over and over again. If it’s something you only see yourself using a few times, use the copy page function instead.
Does a template like this exist already? There’s a decent chance the perfect template already exists within Confluence for your purpose. Use Templates in the menu bar at the top of the Confluence page and start searching for keywords for the type of template you’re building. See the article Why You Should Be Using Templates in Confluence for more information on pre-made templates.
Once you’ve answered these questions and decided that your team definitely needs their own template, it’s time to get to work.
Going Global: Where to Create Your Template
The first thing you need to decide is whether this template is going to be used by a particular team within a single space in Confluence (a Space Template), or whether it will be used by everyone in your organization (a Global Template). It’s important to establish this from the start as the creation process is slightly different, and you need different admin rights for each method.
Thankfully Atlassian already has step-by-step guides on how to create your own template and how to create a global template which are linked below.
Atlassian’s guide on how to create a Space Template. Use this for creating a template that will only be used by the team in one space in Confluence. Note that you need Admin rights for that space to do this.
Atlassian’s guide on how to create a Global Template. Use this for when you want your new template to be used by anyone within your organization, not just in one space. Only Site Administrators can create a global template.
If you found an existing template that is close to what you want, you can simply edit that template. Follow the steps above to get to the templates page, but instead of creating a new template, scroll down to the template you want to change, click “edit”, and then make those small changes. This saves a ton of work and is preferable to creating an entire new template from nothing.
Important Tips for Creating a Good Template
The great thing about the template editor in Confluence is it’s very similar to the regular editor you use for any content you create. But there are a few key tips to ensure your template is up to scratch.
Add meta information to your template. This is for information you want to display across every page with this template. This is especially useful for internal documentation pages like project pages. You can format this easily using the Page Properties macro and setting up a table with all the information required for each page following this template, such as the author, date created, etc.
Structuring your template information is key. The best way to do this is to follow the pyramid approach - put the most important information on top and less important information towards the bottom. Think how a newspaper article is formatted, with the most important details in the opening lines.
Use the placeholder text macro often. You know when there’s a text box online for you to type in and it includes grey, semi-transparent text explaining what to write in that space, that disappears when you click on the box? That is placeholder text, and it is your best friend when ensuring people know how to use the template correctly. Use the placeholder macro when creating a template and use it liberally so anyone using the template knows exactly what to write in each section.
Add a label to your template. Atlassian’s own create a template guide explains at the bottom how to add a label to your template. Now every page made with this template will have this label, which makes it so much easier later down the line when you want to find every page that uses this template. Labels have mountains of powerful applications which you can learn more about with our article: Using Labels in Confluence.
Remember, templates are here to save your team work later and lets them focus on the task at hand. Worry about setting up your page properties, labels, instructional text, and correct structure as you create the template, so your team doesn’t have to worry about them later.
Get the Word Out There About Your Template
Fantastic, you’ve made your beautiful new template! But you need to let everyone know about it. If you made a template in the woods but there was nobody around to hear it, did you really make a template at all? Give your template a name and description so everyone knows what it’s used for and we can hopefully avoid this philosophical debate.
A great tool to get your template out there is by using the Create from Template macro.
Let’s say your template is for weekly meetings. In your page where all your weekly meetings are held, you can add a Create from Template macro at the top, plug your new template in there, and voila! Now whoever goes to create new weekly meetings notes just has to click that button and they will be using your new template.
If your template was made in a space, you can promote the template in the templates section of space settings. Now when people go to create a new page, they will see your new template under the promoted tab on the side. You can learn how to do this using Atlassian’s own guide. Not that this only works for templates created in a Space, not global templates.
Create From Template Pro App
If you find the Create From Template macro lacks some key functionality, you can use the Create From Template Pro macro. This is a K15t developed app available from the Atlassian Marketplace which provides a lot of additional customization when creating your Create from Template button. These include:
The power to set a parent page for new pages created with the macro. This is especially helpful when you don’t want the new pages to be created as a child of the page where the macro is added.
Advanced page title templating with the option to define variables. These variables are prompted to the users when they click on the Create from Macro button.
Oodles of button formatting options. Button types and icons help add more context to the action and encourage creativity.
Add new labels in addition to the labels already added to the selected template. This enables you to have more granular control over labeling the new pages based on specific use cases.
You can download Create from Template Pro from the Atlassian Marketplace.
There you have it. Your gorgeous new template is out in the wild, ready to be used by everyone in your team.