Do you ever find yourself writing out the same basic email, over and over, to different people in only slightly different situations? Or do you ever find yourself stuck, not knowing what to write for a relatively common event, like a birthday or a coworker’s promotion? In these and other situations, Gmail email templates can help you succeed.
And email templates for Gmail—including Gmail email signature templates—are easy to set up.
What Is a Gmail Email Template?
A “template” for Gmail can refer to a few different things. In all cases, a template serves as a structural framework that you can apply to multiple email needs in the future. It may be something like a Gmail signature, which you can add to the bottom of all future messages in its original form, without alteration. Or it may be something like a customer service letter, which will remain mostly intact with a handful of changes for the individual to whom you’re sending it.
Depending on how you’re using them and your motivation for using them, you may be able to automatically apply them to all your emails moving forward, or save them so you can call upon them for future use.
How Gmail Email Templates Save You Time
What’s the point of using Gmail templates? The big picture is to save you time, so you can get more done every day. Think about all the time you spend writing and preparing emails to send. If, instead of drafting every message from scratch, you could call upon a template and modify just a few critical components, you could save a few minutes every time you send this particular type of email. Multiply that by every time you send such an email and the number of email types for which you have templates, and you could easily save hours of time over the course of just a few weeks.
Gmail email templates also have other advantages. In some cases, you can use them as a form of automation; rather than writing out your name and contact info at the bottom of every email, you can include an email signature that includes itself automatically every time you draft a new message.
In some situations, templates can also help you find the right words and the right formatting for a given situation. For example, if you have to send a disciplinary warning letter to an employee for the first time, you might not be sure what to say. Finding a template online could help you find a starting point, and customizing your own Gmail template could be handy if you face this situation in the future.
How Can I Set Up a Gmail Email Template?
Now let’s cover how to set up a Gmail email template. Ultimately, we’re going to be looking at two different types of email templates for Gmail that you can set up:
- Canned responses. “Canned responses” is the name assigned to a feature within Gmail, so it’s the name we’re going to use for a basic “template” you can call upon at will. These templates typically include the body text of an email you send regularly; sometimes, it’s just a line or two. Other times, it’s many paragraphs. You can use them for full messages, or just snippets of information you include in other messages.
- Gmail signatures. Gmail signatures are, straightforwardly enough, email signatures in Gmail. They appear at the bottom of your email, and you can customize how they appear, when they appear, and for whom they appear.
For both these options, it’s possible to use third-party apps, extensions, and add-ons to customize and conveniently access your templates. For example, some apps are dedicated to helping you create the perfect Gmail signature, complete with your social media information, a headshot, and other info. Others exist to help you create your own Gmail email templates or search for templates online for various types of emails.
However, Gmail has built-in features to help you create and use both these types of templates. Since these features are free, convenient, and easy to use, we’re going to focus on them for the majority of this article.
The next two sections will guide you in creating email templates in Gmail. Following that, we’ll explore how you can find preexisting Gmail templates that could help you in your daily professional life.
How Do I Create a Canned Response in Gmail?
“Canned responses” is an email productivity tool built into Gmail designed to help you create and use your own Gmail templates. It’s the best way to create and manage your most-used email templates, whether they’re full messages or short snippets.
First, you’ll have to enable the Canned responses feature; it’s buried in the Advanced settings menu, and is not enabled by default. Here are the steps to take:
1. Head to the Settings menu, then open the Advanced tab.
2. Click Enable on the Canned responses option.
3. Save your changes; Canned responses will now be ready for you.
4. Open a Compose window, and start typing a message you’d like to save as a template.
5. When you’re ready, and the email looks the way you want it, click the vertical ellipses in the bottom right-hand corner of the window, hover over the Canned responses section, and then hover over “Save draft as template.”
6. From there, click Save as new template.
You’ll have the chance to name your canned response; I recommend something like “rejection letter” or “return policy.” In the future, you’ll be able to overwrite these templates, or delete them entirely.
When you’re ready to use one of the canned responses you saved, follow these steps:
1. Open a new Compose window
2. Click the vertical ellipses,
3. Hover over the Canned responses section, then click on the name of the template you wish to use.
From here, you’ll have the option to modify your message as you see fit; note that unless you manually save the changes to the template, these changes will only apply to this specific message, and not the template itself.
Be sure to thoroughly review your message before you send it; if you get over-reliant on email templates for all your messages, you could find yourself in an embarrassing situation.
How Do I Create a Gmail Email Signature Template?
You can also use Gmail’s built-in tools to create Gmail email signature templates, which can automatically be applied to all future emails you send.
You’re allowed to include up to 10,000 characters in your signature. Start the process by clicking into the Settings menu, then heading to the Signature section, which is under the General tab.
By default, “No signature” will be selected. You’ll need to enable your signature to make it start appearing at the end of all outgoing messages. To the right of that option, you’ll see a box, where you can write and format your Gmail signature template. You can even add an image, if you’re so inclined. When you’re done, click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the page to finalize your work.
You also have the option to insert your signature before quoted text in your replies, removing the dashed line that precedes it.
If you utilize the “Send mail as” feature, a convenient tool for professionals with diverse needs, you can create a different signature for each of your email addresses.
Where Can I Find Good Gmail Email Templates for Specific Applications?
If you’re not interested in creating your own template, or if you’re interested in finding a preexisting template you can modify to suit your own needs, you can search online to find an example of an email in the category of your choice. Some apps and software attempt to provide you with built-in templates, or connect you with services that can. There are also websites dedicated to providing graphical assets, design templates, and other materials you can use to create your own works, like Canva.
These are some of the common templates you’re likely to find:
- Email marketing is a big business, so it’s not hard to find templates for email newsletters and sales emails. Big names in the email marketing industry like MailChimp traditionally offer these templates for free, giving you everything you need to customize your own messages. Feel free to utilize these mass-message templates however you see fit, using them for any of your company needs. Be sure not to miss our list of sales email templates and sales email follow-up templates!
- Acceptance and rejection letters. If you’re working in HR, some of the most common emails you’ll send are prospecting emails, followed by an offer, or an acceptance or rejection letter. These will remain mostly unchanged once you have a template established for your business, but finding a template online can help you find a good start.
- Customer service notices. You may also need to work on a series of Gmail templates for use by your customer service team. Apology letters, instructions on how to commit a return, and other informative content will all be important in keeping your customers happy (while giving them what they need concisely and efficiently). Check out our post on customer service email best practices for more info.
You can also find templates for more personal emails, like:
- Private announcements.
- Party invitations.
- Congratulations messages.
- Birthdays and holiday greetings.
Gmail email templates are an amazing way to improve your Gmail efficiency and save you time every day. If you’re looking for more ways to improve your email productivity, you can start analyzing your email habits with EmailAnalytics. EmailAnalytics connects to your Gmail account (and the accounts of your employees) and uses data visuals to help you understand your busiest times, busiest days, average email response time, and more.
With a better understanding of your habits, you can make positive changes to save hours of time every week. Sign up for a free trial today and learn more about what EmailAnalytics can do for you!
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before exiting it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.