What Are PSD Templates?

by Amie Martin

Templates can help beginners and experts alike use spreadsheets and forms, but they can also be used for design. Business cards, fliers and advertisements are just a few examples where design templates come in handy. Adobe Photoshop is often used for design templates, and PSD is the file extension in which they are generally provided to allow your customization.


Templates, in computer terms, are electronic files that predetermine the look and feel of the document and leave room for customization. An example of a computer template is a fax cover sheet either pulled from built-in templates of Microsoft Word or developed by an individual or company. The look and feel of the fax cover sheet is already designed -- and often not editable -- but the form fields can be filled in by any user. A more advanced template is a newsletter, where the layout is defined, and a user can change certain colors, graphics and text.

PSD Files

The native file extension of Adobe Photoshop is PSD, which stands for "photoshop standard document." Photoshop uses layers to apply not only photo manipulation but addition of text and other elements to a single file. A template can be designed in a single PSD file. When you open the file, you will see multiple layers. One layer may be a background image while another may be a text column and another may be a banner across the top including both graphics and text. The banner, in fact, (or any layer of a PSD file), may contain sub-layers of graphics and text.


Because PSD supports graphics, text and layout manipulation, it is a popular format for design templates. While templates for spreadsheets and forms are generally created by other applications, creation of design documents, such as business cards, fliers, newsletters and advertisements involve much more detail and customization. In these cases, a PSD template allows you to view and edit the layers which make up the overall look and feel of the entire document.


PSD templates are widely available online, and many of them are free. While they are useful even to an advanced designer, there are several things to consider. First, you must have Adobe Photoshop installed on your computer in order to open and use a PSD file, and your version must be compatible with the version used to create the template. Second, you should beware of scams and potential viruses if downloading a PSD template from a source with which you are not familiar. Third, if you are not familiar with layers in Photoshop or another application, ask a friend or colleague to help you during your initial navigation, or consider a non-layered template.

About the Author

Amie Martin has more than 20 years of publishing experience in proofreading, editing, writing, design and layout. She writes for various websites, specializing in branding, marketing and technical communications. Martin has an Associate of Applied Science in merchandising from Bay State College and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.