In Word 2003 you can import styles from a template using the Style Gallery. You can access it via Format, Theme, Style Gallery (or Format, AutoFormat, Autoformat and review each change, Style Gallery).

The Style Gallery has a preview area that is supposed to update as you choose different templates from the list on the left. However, this preview was broken on my version of Word – the preview didn’t reflect the template, and Example and Style sample options just gave a message that the selected template didn’t have such things available. Even though the preview didn’t work, selecting a template and pressing OK did import the correct styles.

In trying to track down the problem I’ve seen a few newsgroup posts from people with the same problem, but no solutions.

I’ve finally worked out how to fix the problem (although not why it happened — looks like it might be a bug). Basically it’s the setting for the user templates directory (Tools, Options, File locations).

When this was set to C:\Documents and Settings[User Name]\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates the preview didn’t work. When I changed it to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Templates it started working. Since the location of user templates shouldn’t affect where Word thinks the standard templates are stored, I’m not sure why this works. But it seems to fix the problem.