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Best Practices to Create and Manage Confluence Templates

How to Create & Manage Confluence Templates

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I have a phobia of blank Confluence pages. Regardless of whether I am in the mood, or I have time, starting from scratch – at least on a regular basis – is something we should all avoid for obvious reasons: We have better things to do. And lucky for us Confluence users, the platform comes with a variety of templates for a variety of use cases. But with a large pool of built-in templates (and the ones your teams might create), it becomes difficult to choose the right ones. 

This is a nice problem to have, one that bears the following questions: Why and when to work with Confluence templates? How to choose and create the right ones? And which macros should you consider?

Why Confluence templates matter

Efficiency, consistency, and clarity are the cornerstones of successful knowledge creation and management. Confluence templates embody these principles by offering teams predefined structures and formats for common documents, such as meeting notes, project plans, or knowledge bases. Here’s why they’re crucial:

Standardize pages and ensure consistency

Templates establish uniformity across your Confluence site, ensuring that essential information is consistently captured and presented in a structured way. This standardization minimizes confusion and enhances comprehension, especially in large teams and/or complex projects.

Within our marketing team here at Vectors, we rely heavily on built-in marketing templates to get started. Of course, we often build on these templates to mirror our processes. This way, we can ensure consistency across all of our space

Save time 

By providing ready-made and ready-to-use templates, you can eliminate the need to start from scratch with each page. Your teams can simply select the appropriate template, fill it with information, and voila. This allows you to focus on content creation rather than tedious and repetitive formatting.

Foster collaboration

Imagine you are co-editing a document with a team you have just joined without having any idea of the templates to follow or the best practices. Safe to say that collaboration will be far from ideal.

This is why it is easier for your teams to effectively collaborate if they are working with templates. Familiarity with both the templates in use as well as the best practices for content creation, enable seamless sharing, reviewing, and co-authoring of content. 

Consolidate Knowledge and facilitate onboarding

In addition to its role in content formatting, collaboration and efficiency, templates also serve as repositories of best practices and learning. Over time, they evolve to incorporate feedback, improvements, and lessons learned, becoming invaluable resources for onboarding new team members and maintaining continuity.

For example, by providing structured frameworks for different processes or documents, templates guide users (especially new hires) through established workflows, promoting understanding and skill development. And in case new hires want to create their own pages, they can easily know which one requires templates helping them to get started on the right foot.

Best practices to create Confluence templates

Effective template creation and management in Confluence requires careful planning, understanding user needs, and team dynamics. 

Identify common use cases

Begin by answering one simple question. Which use cases require templates? 

Identifying use cases, content types or processes where your teams may require templates is the first place to start. Obviously, the criteria you should look at here vary depending on the team. But in general, templates are needed for repetitive and strategic content. These may include meeting agendas, project plans, status reports, or knowledge articles. Understanding the specific requirements will inform the design of your templates.

Adopt a simple and flexible structure

Keeping it simple might seem as a cliché best practice, but one that you should strive for when working with Confluence templates. The reason? Templates are here to facilitate knowledge creation and management not the opposite.

Avoid overwhelming users (be it content creators or readers) with unnecessary sections or rigid structures. Instead, provide a clear and coherent layout. One that can be adapted to different scenarios, and can be easily edited.

And what about the key information? Well, if you take a look at the built-in Confluence templates, you can see that they are structured in a way that puts forward key information. In the majority of the existing templates, you will have a snapshot at the top. Here you will find the content status, creation date, owner, and more. Moving further, you will find more detailed information such as specific action items, etc.

Use variables and placeholders

Templates are created specifically for repeated usage. When creating your own, always make sure to include text placeholders and variables. This way your teams will know what to include in each section and will be just filling in the blanks.

Text placeholders are ever present within each Confluence template in an attempt to help you get started on the right foot. 

Text placeholder

In terms of variables, for example, support or HR teams have a lot of email templates across Confluence. Within each one, there are variables such as the name, company, etc. When using a template with variables, all they have to do is fill in the required fields. This obviously facilitates the content creation process and helps avoid any unnecessary confusion. 

Template varibles

Tag your templates with labels

We can’t talk about content without talking about labels. When creating or choosing a template, always make sure to tag it with a unique label. This obviously makes the template itself easier to find, in case your users are looking to use it. Additionally, every content created based on said template will be tagged with the same label, making it easier to access information. For example, our marketing meeting notes are all tagged with the label “MKG-meeting”. This way, if we used Confluence advanced search and filter by labels, you can quickly access all of our meeting notes.

Manage permissions (who can create, manage and edit templates)

Identifying which users are responsible for creating and managing templates can help you avoid confusion and keep everyone on the same page. Generally, team space managers and frequent content creators should take this role. This way you can ensure consistency and keep track of any updates. When it comes to filling templates though, you can be more flexible, as you always want to promote collaboration across your teams.

Leverage content formatting apps

Confluence native formatting macros are essential to build content-rich and engaging templates. With this being said though, you can always build on them. And that is why content formatting apps exist. Covering both simple and advanced use cases, dedicated apps such as Content Formatting Toolkit by Vectors, help you fine tune your templates and content.

The app comes with a host of macros designed to facilitate navigation, contextualize content, track processes, and more.

You can learn more about the apps and its set of macros here.

How to create your own templates in Confluence

Before you start creating your templates, you first need to establish whether they will be used at a space or site levels. The creation process is more or less the same, but from different locations within Confluence. 

Let’s start with the global level. Here you will be creating templates to be used by everyone within your site. To do this, navigate to Confluence settings > Global Templates and Blueprints. There, select Add global page template. You will land on a blank page and you can start creating your template.

Confluence global templates

If you would like to add templates to be used within one specific space, then navigate to Space settings and select templates. You will land on the templates menu, hit Create new template. 

Confluence space templates

Confluence macros to consider when creating your templates

Page properties

Page properties allow you to relay key information about a given page such as the owners, creation date, status, and more. The information within each page can later be consolidated within page properties reports, giving your teams an overall idea about a multitude of pages.

To insert this macro, type “/page properties”. Here you will have to insert a two column table with keys and their values. 

Page properties macro

Tables

I believe every Confluence template has a table. Confluence tables grew over the years and come with a host of formatting and integration options. They are extremely important in relaying, grouping and structuring content. 

To insert a table, type “/table” or click the table icon within the toolbar. Then you can Customize your Confluence table’s layout with various formatting options.

Confluence tables

Check out this blog post to learn a couple of best practices on how to effectively use Confluence tables.

Expanders

Making use of space is key when creating Confluence pages. Expanders help you include content without taking much space within the page. The expander box has a title giving you an idea about its content, and you can choose whether to crop or expand the macro.

To insert an expander box, type “/expand”. Specify the title and add your content.

Expand macro

Lists

With lists, you can link to specific pages, blogs, labels, users, and more. They are extremely convenient and easy to include and customize. Within our content hub, for example, we rely heavily on labels lists and blogs, to consolidate content and make it easily accessible.

To add lists, simply type “lists” and you will have a variety of lists to choose from.

Mentions & action items

I decided to group both in the same section because they go hand in hand. You will be using mentions and action items especially when dealing with meeting notes, project plans, content plans, and virtually any template where you find tasks. 

To add action items, type “/action item”, specify the task and add metadata such as the user, date, status, and more

Action item and mentions

Roadmap planner

This macro is extensively used within project templates. Think of it as a Gantt chart and a visual timeline of your project. You can include bars and lines representing tasks and work streams. You can also set dates, link to confluence pages, and more.

To insert this macro, type “/Roadmap planner” and insert your workload. The macro is simple yet intuitive and does not require too much learning to get started.

Roadmap planner macro

Obviously the list of macros to include within your templates is long, the above are just the ones that I use the most. Honorable mentions include panels, dates, decisions, and more.

In conclusion, Confluence templates are indispensable for maximizing productivity, promoting consistency, and fostering collaboration within teams and organizations. By leveraging templates and embracing best practices in their creation and usage, you can unlock their full potential and make the most out of Confluence.

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Best Practices to Create and Manage Confluence Templates