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Templates are predefined documents (like invoices, tax forms, etc.), or parts of such documents, where each element (text, lines, barcodes, etc.) has a fixed position (x1, y1, x2, y2), style (font, size, etc.) and a default text.

These elements can act as placeholders, so the program can change the default text "filling in" the document.

Besides being defined in code, the elements can also be defined in a CSV file, a JSON file, or in a database, so the user can easily adapt the form to his printing needs.

A template is used like a dict, setting its items' values.

How to use Templates

There are two approaches to using templates.

Using Template()

The traditional approach is to use the Template() class, This class accepts one template definition, and can apply it to each page of a document. The usage pattern here is:

tmpl = Template(elements=elements)
# first page and content
tmpl[item_key_01] = "Text 01"
tmpl[item_key_02] = "Text 02"

# second page and content
tmpl[item_key_01] = "Text 11"
tmpl[item_key_02] = "Text 12"

# possibly more pages

# finalize document and write to file

The Template() class will create and manage its own FPDF() instance, so you don't need to worry about how it all works together. It also allows to set the page format, title of the document, measuring unit, and other metadata for the PDF file.

For the method signatures, see class Template.

Setting text values for specific template items is done by treating the class as a dict, with the name of the item as the key:

Template["company_name"] = "Sample Company"

Using FlexTemplate()

When more flexibility is desired, then the FlexTemplate() class comes into play. In this case, you first need to create your own FPDF() instance. You can then pass this to the constructor of one or several FlexTemplate() instances, and have each of them load a template definition. For any page of the document, you can set text values on a template, and then render it on that page. After rendering, the template will be reset to its default values.

pdf = FPDF()
# One template for the first page
fp_tmpl = FlexTemplate(pdf, elements=fp_elements)
fp_tmpl["item_key_01"] = "Text 01"
fp_tmpl["item_key_02"] = "Text 02"
fp_tmpl.render() # add template items to first page

# add some more non-template content to the first page
pdf.polyline(point_list, fill=False, polygon=False)

# second page
# header for the second page
h_tmpl = FlexTemplate(pdf, elements=h_elements)
h_tmpl["item_key_HA"] = "Text 2A"
h_tmpl["item_key_HB"] = "Text 2B"
h_tmpl.render() # add header items to second page

# footer for the second page
f_tmpl = FlexTemplate(pdf, elements=f_elements)
f_tmpl["item_key_FC"] = "Text 2C"
f_tmpl["item_key_FD"] = "Text 2D"
f_tmpl.render() # add footer items to second page

# other content on the second page
pdf.set_dash_pattern(dash=1, gap=1)
pdf.line(x1, y1, x2, y2):

# third page
# header for the third page, just reuse the same template instance after render()
h_tmpl["item_key_HA"] = "Text 3A"
h_tmpl["item_key_HB"] = "Text 3B"
h_tmpl.render() # add header items to third page

# footer for the third page
f_tmpl["item_key_FC"] = "Text 3C"
f_tmpl["item_key_FD"] = "Text 3D"
f_tmpl.render() # add footer items to third page

# other content on the third page
pdf.rect(x, y, w, h, style=None)

# possibly more pages

# finally write everything to a file

Evidently, this can end up quite a bit more involved, but there are hardly any limits on how you can combine templated and non-templated content on each page. Just think of the different templates as of building blocks, like configurable rubber stamps, which you can apply in any combination on any page you like.

Of course, you can just as well use a set of full-page templates, possibly differentiating between cover page, table of contents, normal content pages, and an index page, or something along those lines.

And here's how you can use a template several times on one page (and by extension, several times on several pages). When rendering with an offsetx and/or offsety argument, the contents of the template will end up in a different place on the page. A rotate argument will change its orientation, rotated around the origin of the template. The pivot of the rotation is the offset location. And finally, a scale argument allows you to insert the template larger or smaller than it was defined.

elements = [
    {"name":"box", "type":"B", "x1":0, "y1":0, "x2":50, "y2":50,},
    {"name":"d1", "type":"L", "x1":0, "y1":0, "x2":50, "y2":50,},
    {"name":"d2", "type":"L", "x1":0, "y1":50, "x2":50, "y2":0,},
    {"name":"label", "type":"T", "x1":0, "y1":52, "x2":50, "y2":57, "text":"Label",},
pdf = FPDF()
templ = FlexTemplate(pdf, elements)
templ["label"] = "Offset: 50 / 50 mm"
templ.render(offsetx=50, offsety=50)
templ["label"] = "Offset: 50 / 120 mm"
templ.render(offsetx=50, offsety=120)
templ["label"] = "Offset: 120 / 50 mm, Scale: 0.5"
templ.render(offsetx=120, offsety=50, scale=0.5)
templ["label"] = "Offset: 120 / 120 mm, Rotate: 30°, Scale=0.5"
templ.render(offsetx=120, offsety=120, rotate=30.0, scale=0.5)

For the method signatures, see class FlexTemplate.

The dict syntax for setting text values is the same as above:

FlexTemplate["company_name"] = "Sample Company"

Details - Template definition

A template definition consists of a number of elements, which have the following properties (columns in a CSV, items in a dict, name/value pairs in a JSON object, fields in a database). Dimensions (except font size, which always uses points) are given in user defined units (default: mm). Those are the units that can be specified when creating a Template() or a FPDF() instance.

  • name: placeholder identification (unique text string)
    • mandatory
  • type:
    • 'T': Text - places one or several lines of text on the page
    • 'L': Line - draws a line from x1/y1 to x2/y2
    • 'I': Image - positions and scales an image into the bounding box
    • 'B': Box - draws a rectangle around the bounding box
    • 'E': Ellipse - draws an ellipse inside the bounding box
    • 'BC': Barcode - inserts an "Interleaved 2 of 5" type barcode
    • 'C39': Code 39 - inserts a "Code 39" type barcode
      • Incompatible change: A previous implementation of this type used the non-standard element keys "x", "y", "w", and "h", which are now deprecated (but still work for the moment).
    • 'W': "Write" - uses the FPDF.write() method to add text to the page
    • mandatory
  • x1, y1, x2, y2: top-left, bottom-right coordinates, defining a bounding box in most cases
    • for multiline text, this is the bounding box of just the first line, not the complete box
    • for the barcodes types, the height of the barcode is y2 - y1, x2 is ignored.
    • mandatory ("x2" optional for the barcode types)
  • font: the name of a font type for the text types
    • optional
    • default: "helvetica"
  • size: the size property of the element (float value)
    • for text, the font size (in points!)
    • for line, box, and ellipse, the line width
    • for the barcode types, the width of one bar
    • optional
    • default: 10 for text, 2 for 'BC', 1.5 for 'C39'
  • bold, italic, underline: text style properties
    • in dict/JSON, enabled with True/true or equivalent value
    • in CSV, only int values, 0 as false, non-0 as true
    • optional
    • default: false
  • foreground, background: text and fill colors (int value, commonly given in hex as 0xRRGGBB)
    • in JSON, a decimal value or a HTML style "#RRGGBB" string (6 digits) can be given.
    • optional
    • default: foreground 0x000000 = black; background None/empty = transparent
    • Incompatible change: Up to 2.4.5, the default background for text and box elements was solid white, with no way to make them transparent.
  • align: text alignment, 'L': left, 'R': right, 'C': center
    • optional
    • default: 'L'
  • text: default string, can be replaced at runtime
    • displayed text for 'T' and 'W'
    • data to encode for barcode types
    • optional (if missing for text/write, the element is ignored)
    • default: empty
  • priority: Z-order (int value)
    • optional
    • default: 0
  • multiline: configure text wrapping
    • in dicts/JSON, None/null for single line, True/true for multicells (multiple lines), False/false trims to exactly fit the space defined
    • in CSV, 0 for single line, >0 for multiple lines, <0 for exact fit
    • optional
    • default: single line
  • rotation: rotate the element in degrees around the top left corner x1/y1 (float)
    • optional
    • default: 0.0 - no rotation
  • wrapmode: optionally set wrapmode to "CHAR" to support multiline line wrapping on characters instead of words
    • optional
    • default: 'WORD'

Fields that are not relevant to a specific element type will be ignored there, but if not left empty, they must still adhere to the specified data type (in dicts, string fields may be None).

How to create a template

A template can be created in several ways:

  • By defining everything directly as a Python dictionary
  • By reading the template definition from a JSON document with .parse_json()
  • By reading the template definition from a CSV document with .parse_csv()
  • By defining the template in a database (this applies to [Web2Py] ( integration)

Example - Python dict

from fpdf import Template

#this will define the ELEMENTS that will compose the template. 
elements = [
    { 'name': 'company_logo', 'type': 'I', 'x1': 20.0, 'y1': 17.0, 'x2': 78.0, 'y2': 30.0, 'font': None, 'size': 0.0, 'bold': 0, 'italic': 0, 'underline': 0, 'align': 'C', 'text': 'logo', 'priority': 2, 'multiline': False},
    { 'name': 'company_name', 'type': 'T', 'x1': 17.0, 'y1': 32.5, 'x2': 115.0, 'y2': 37.5, 'font': 'helvetica', 'size': 12.0, 'bold': 1, 'italic': 0, 'underline': 0,'align': 'C', 'text': '', 'priority': 2, 'multiline': False},
    { 'name': 'multline_text', 'type': 'T', 'x1': 20, 'y1': 100, 'x2': 40, 'y2': 105, 'font': 'helvetica', 'size': 12, 'bold': 0, 'italic': 0, 'underline': 0, 'background': 0x88ff00, 'align': 'C', 'text': 'Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisici elit', 'priority': 2, 'multiline': True, 'wrapmode': 'WORD'},
    { 'name': 'box', 'type': 'B', 'x1': 15.0, 'y1': 15.0, 'x2': 185.0, 'y2': 260.0, 'font': 'helvetica', 'size': 0.0, 'bold': 0, 'italic': 0, 'underline': 0, 'align': 'C', 'text': None, 'priority': 0, 'multiline': False},
    { 'name': 'box_x', 'type': 'B', 'x1': 95.0, 'y1': 15.0, 'x2': 105.0, 'y2': 25.0, 'font': 'helvetica', 'size': 0.0, 'bold': 1, 'italic': 0, 'underline': 0, 'align': 'C', 'text': None, 'priority': 2, 'multiline': False},
    { 'name': 'line1', 'type': 'L', 'x1': 100.0, 'y1': 25.0, 'x2': 100.0, 'y2': 57.0, 'font': 'helvetica', 'size': 0, 'bold': 0, 'italic': 0, 'underline': 0, 'align': 'C', 'text': None, 'priority': 3, 'multiline': False},
    { 'name': 'barcode', 'type': 'BC', 'x1': 20.0, 'y1': 246.5, 'x2': 140.0, 'y2': 254.0, 'font': 'Interleaved 2of5 NT', 'size': 0.75, 'bold': 0, 'italic': 0, 'underline': 0, 'align': 'C', 'text': '200000000001000159053338016581200810081', 'priority': 3, 'multiline': False},

#here we instantiate the template
f = Template(format="A4", elements=elements,
             title="Sample Invoice")

#we FILL some of the fields of the template with the information we want
#note we access the elements treating the template instance as a "dict"
f["company_name"] = "Sample Company"
f["company_logo"] = "docs/fpdf2-logo.png"

#and now we render the page

See or [Web2Py] ( for a complete example.

Example - Elements defined in JSON file

The JSON file must consist of an array of objects. Each object with its name/value pairs define a template element:

        "name": "employee_name",
        "type": "T",
        "x1": 20,
        "y1": 75,
        "x2": 118,
        "y2": 90,
        "font": "helvetica",
        "size": 12,
        "bold": true,
        "underline": true,
        "text": ""

Then you import and use that template as follows:

def test_template():
    f = Template(format="A4", title="Template Demo")
    f["employee_name"] = "Joe Doe"
    return f.render("./template.pdf")

Example - Elements defined in CSV file

You define your elements in a CSV file "mycsvfile.csv" that will look like:

multiline;T;21.0;50.0;28.0;54.0;times;10.5;0;0;0;0;0xffff00;L;multi line;0;1;0.0

Remember that each line represents an element and each field represents one of the properties of the element in the following order: ('name','type','x1','y1','x2','y2','font','size','bold','italic','underline','foreground','background','align','text','priority', 'multiline', 'rotate', 'wrapmode') As noted above, most fields may be left empty, so a line is valid with only 6 items. The "empty_fields" line of the example demonstrates all that can be left away. In addition, for the barcode types "x2" may be empty.

Then you can use the file like this:

def test_template():
    f = Template(format="A4",
                 title="Sample Invoice")
    f.parse_csv("mycsvfile.csv", delimiter=";")
    f["name0"] = "Joe Doe"
    return f.render("./template.pdf")