There weren't any available templates for my project so I had to do it from scratch.

written in the following form:

There weren't any available templates for my project so I had to _____ it.

EDIT: Just in case the antecedent of "it" isn't clear, "it" refers to "my project" and not "a template." The example sentence states "there weren't any available templates" to emphasize the fact that "I had to do it (my project) from scratch."

  • 1
    So I had to do it all myself. why must it be a single word?
    – Jim
    Jun 2, 2018 at 15:58
  • I had to make them, by gosh.
    – Lambie
    Jun 2, 2018 at 17:48
  • "conceive one" for the template. Conceive would not necessarily mean to draw full working drawings - but it does better capture the idea of 'something from nothing' IMO
    – Tom22
    Jun 2, 2018 at 21:33
  • @Jim I need to label a class of tasks in a taxonomy and optimally you want labels to be single words.
    – Zachary
    Jun 2, 2018 at 23:16
  • 2
    So I had to build it by hand. Title can be HandBuilt
    – Jim
    Jun 2, 2018 at 23:36

4 Answers 4


Certainly "templates" indicates you're at least peripheral to a computing topic, which makes me certain that the word bootstrap is perfect here.

In my understanding, there's the original Horatio Alger meaning, in which a self-made man had "pulled himself by his own bootstraps." Which is to say, given no particular, uh, template to start from, some highly successful types had risen to great heights.

In the computing world, that somehow became bootstrapping a kernel, in which hardware, absent any other instruction except "you're on" loads software into memory, causing the system to become a more fully realized computer.

But with computing's adoption of the term, of course the modern entrepreneurial world has seized upon the term to mean:

bootstrap - to help onself without the aid of others (dictionary.com)

  • This is perfect and the only response that addresses rather than criticizes or modifies the very concrete request; There weren't any available templates for my project so I had to bootstrap it. sounds perfect.
    – Zachary
    Jun 3, 2018 at 3:13
  • Except none of my younger IT colleagues, native speakers or not, would have a clue what I meant with bootstrap. As alien as bootsector virus.
    – mplungjan
    Jun 3, 2018 at 5:35
  • 1
    templates exist for many things. Sure, to bootstrap something aka to pull oneself up by one's own bootstraps.
    – Lambie
    Jun 3, 2018 at 22:49
  • @mplungjan My gut reaction is that says more about your colleagues than the correctness of the answer (I'm not 100% sold on it, but it's probably the best we'll get since it does incorporate the sense of "from nothing" that none of the others do).
    – TripeHound
    Jun 11, 2018 at 13:38
  • Except from scratch which is the idiom to use in this case regardless of the wish for a single word
    – mplungjan
    Jun 11, 2018 at 13:40

There weren't any available templates for my project so I had to create/build one/some

From scratch remains the proper expression if you had to create the project without templates. None of my younger native and non-native English speaking IT colleagues would have a clue what bootstrap meant; all of them would understand

There weren't any available templates for my project so I had to create it from scratch.

  • In your sentence, "one/some" would refer to "templates", but the reason why I specified the format to be "... so I had to _____ it" is because "it" refers to the project. And There weren't any available templates for my project so I had to create/build it (my project). doesn't really work.
    – Zachary
    Jun 2, 2018 at 23:34
  • Please see update
    – mplungjan
    Jun 3, 2018 at 5:34
  • Thank you for taking the effort to update your answer; I really appreciate it. As for why I accepted bootstrap, the question was not about phrasing the idea in a widely understandable way; if that were the case I wouldn't even need to ask the question because, as you mentioned, from scratch is already very understandable. The problem is I need a single word to express it. While bootstrap may not be widely understood, it does represent the idea and is a single word.
    – Zachary
    Jun 3, 2018 at 5:52

improvise TFD

  1. to make, provide, or arrange from whatever materials are readily available

"There weren't any available templates for my project. I had to improvise my own."


Assuming that the use of the word "template" in the question is not just a red herring, then the answer should be one that refers to working on the project without one.

Without a template, in the sense of not having any indication of how something should be done, improvise (as already answered) is perfectly reasonable.

However, the more common sense of template is:

(1) a gauge, pattern, or mold (such as a thin plate or board) used as a guide to the form of a piece being made : (2) a molecule (as of DNA) that serves as a pattern for the generation of another macromolecule (such as messenger RNA)

something that establishes or serves as a pattern

In that sense, working without a template can mean a couple of things.


done without mechanical aids or devices · freehand drawing


by hand and not by machine : by manual methods · We have to enter the data manually.

So, with this interpretation, we have something else:

  • There weren't any available templates for my project so I had to finish it (freehand / manually / by hand).

Based on the example sentence, this interpretation seems less likely than does the one that makes use of improvise.

However, the use of template seems odd to me. Because if there is really a lack of "project guidance", I would more naturally assume that it's not a template that's missing, but a blueprint, schematic, or set of instructions. (Ikea furniture does not come with templates but with assembly instructions.)

  • The inclusion of "template" isn't a red herring, but it's not the antecedent of the pronoun "it" either as stated in the edit; it's there to emphasize that the project (which is the antecedent of "it) was done from scratch--without, as you quoted, "something that establishes or serves as a pattern". In fact, doing something from scratch is by definition not using a template.
    – Zachary
    Jun 2, 2018 at 23:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.