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Source Pathfinder RPG Bestiary pg. 294
A template is a set of rules that you apply to a monster to transform it into a different monster. All templates give precise directions on how to change a monster’s statistics to transform it into the new monster.

Acquired Templates: Some templates, like the lich, are the results of a creature’s choice and desire to transform. Others, like the ghost template, are the result of an external force acting upon a creature (for example, when a tormented person dies and becomes a ghost). Yet in both cases, the template changed a creature well after its birth or creation—these types are called “acquired templates,” and can be added to a creature at any time during its existance.

Inherited Templates: Some templates, such as the half-dragon and half-fiend templates, are part of a creature from the beginning of its existence. Creatures are born or created with these templates already in place, and have never known life without them. These types of templates are called “inherited templates.”