I am looking for a word for the concept of using a template in a software setting, in order to be able to edit e.g. multiple powerpoint slides with the same element in one place as opposed to editing it on one slide only.

Another example would be using a \newcommand{} in LaTeX to define a string which should be used throughout a document, but be easy to edit in one place.

  • Ask on Super User. Specify which software apps you are using.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 25, 2019 at 13:52
  • You're talking about setting a value in the template, like a constant, and then referring to that value elsewhere by a name assigned to it, something like "@presenter-name", so that if the presenter needs to be changed, you only have to change the name in one place. You want a noun that means the taking of such an approach in document assembly contexts?
    – TRomano
    Feb 25, 2019 at 14:01
  • In word processing, that is applying styles. Feb 25, 2019 at 16:32
  • @hotlicks I am not interested in the name for a specific software. I am wondering about a word for the concept of only having to change a variable in one place, instead on on every usage. This would apply both in a powerpoint-presentation or for instance by using a \newcommand{} in LaTeX to define a string which should be used throughout a document, but be easy to edit in one place. I have updated the question. Feb 26, 2019 at 7:36
  • 1
    The problem is that the terminology is different depending on the tool you're using. It's very squishy.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 26, 2019 at 12:49

3 Answers 3


To one part of your question:

A word that is sometimes used for an operation that puts a change made to a variable in one place to all other places of the variable is 'propagate'.

For example, if I change the value of an address field in the template document then that change is propagated to all of that templates offspring. Not all applications featuring templates will propagate from changes to the template, but that is a side-issue.


It can depend on the application you are using.

For example, in AutoCAD (a computer aided drawing package) these are referred to as 'X-Refs' (external references). You can have as many references as you like, inserted as many times as you like. When one of the references is updated, it automatically updates all the others in the file (you would typically have a 'template file' with x-ref's inside it).

In Microsoft Word, 'Headers and Footers' repeat information which need only be updated in one place and is reflected throughout the file. To repeat 'content' or 'data' you could use 'Content Controls'. Here is an article covering many of the options: https://gregmaxey.com/word_tip_pages/repeating_data.html

However, I feel this is getting off the topic of your original question.

Personally, I would use 'Boiler Plate' to describe file templates or repeated data/fields inside the files:



The concept is often called a template-driven approach. It is very common if not ubiquitous in document assembly contexts. The adjective "template-driven" would include the ability to have text literals and global variables. All documents which are "driven" by the template will see their generated content change when the template itself is edited.

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