Self-assembled nanoscale porous architectures, such as mesoporous silica (MPS) films, block copolymer films (BCP) and porous anodic aluminas (PAAs), are ideal hosts for templating one dimensional (1D) nano-entities for a wide range of electronic, photonic, magnetic and environmental applications. All three of these templates can provide scalable and tunable pore diameters below 20 nm [1–3]. Recently, research has progressed towards controlling the pore direction, orientation and long-range order of these nanostructures through so-called directed self-assembly (DSA). Significantly, the introduction of a wide range of top-down chemically and physically pre-patterning substrates has facilitated the DSA of nanostructures into functional device arrays. The following review begins with an overview of the fundamental aspects of self-assembly and ordering processes during the formation of PAAs, BCPs and MPS films. Special attention is given to the different ways of directing self-assembly, concentrating on properties such as uni-directional alignment, precision placement and registry of the self-assembled structures to hierarchal or top-down architectures. Finally, to distinguish this review from other articles we focus on research where nanostructures have been utilised in part to fabricate arrays of functioning devices below the sub 50 nm threshold, by subtractive transfer and additive methods. Where possible, we attempt to compare and contrast the different templating approaches and highlight the strengths and/or limitations that will be important for their potential integration into downstream processes.