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How do I find or open the Normal Template in Microsoft Word?

There are times when the simplest way to change defaults in Microsoft Word is to open the Normal.dot or Normal.dotm template. This will be found in the user templates folder, which has different default locations in different versions of Word and different operating systems. That location can be changed in the Word options by the user. Other times you need to find it so you can open the containing folder and rename the template for diagnostic work.

How to Open the Normal template in any version of Word

To open the normal template in any version of Word on any Windows operating system you can do the following.

  1. Open Word.

  2. Open the vba Editor by Pressing Alt-F11.

  3. At the bottom of the vba Editor window is something called the Immediate window. (Press Ctrl-G to activate this window if you don't see it.) Click in that Immediate window.

  4. Type the following (or copy it from here and paste it):

    application.NormalTemplate.OpenAsDocument

     

  5. Press Enter

  6. Close the vba Editor.

  7. You are now in the Normal.dot template (Word 97-2003) or Normal.dotm template (Word 2007-2013)

  8. Make your changes and save it. If you are curious about where you can find it in the future, use Save As and look at where Word is planning on saving it.

  9. Your Word only uses one Normal template. Your computer may have more than one but Word only uses one. This is the only way I know of to be sure that the Normal template you open is the one your version of Word is using!

Note that you should never put any text in the Normal template.

This includes headers, footers and page numbers!

How to Find the User Templates Folder and Normal template.

Many diagnostics require that you rename the normal template. It is located in your user templates folder. Note, some advisors mistakenly tell you to delete the normal template. Renaming it will accomplish the same purpose: Word will create a new fresh normal template the next time it starts. However, if there are valuable customizations in the normal template like macros, AutoText entries, or styles, if it is renamed rather than deleted, those customizations can be recovered.

By default, user templates files are stored in the following location:

bulletIn Windows XP C:\Documents and Settings\ user name \Application Data\Microsoft\Templates
bulletIn Windows Vista or in Windows 7/8 C:\Users\ user name \AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates
bulletOn a Mac, I've been told it is ~/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/User Templates
bulletBeginning with Office 2013 (Office 365) the default folder location has been moved to a subfolder of the user's Documents folder:
Custom Office Templates

Note you can change the location of user templates files. That is done in advanced options. If you have done so, you need to check there for your location.

If you rename or delete your normal template, it will not be recreated by Word until such time as you make a change to your defaults. If you have an Add-In that prevents saving changes to the normal template, then it will not be created. Word will operate fine without a Normal template, using its defaults.

To find the normal template in any version of Word on any Windows operating system you can do the following.

  1. Open Word.

  2. Open the vba Editor by Pressing Alt-F11.

  3. At the bottom of the vba Editor window is something called the Immediate window. (Press Ctrl-G to activate this window if you don't see it.) Click in that Immediate window.

  4. Type the following (or copy it from here and paste it):

    debug.print application.NormalTemplate.Path

     

  5. Press Enter

  6. The location of your normal template for your Word installation shows just below what you typed.

 

How to "dirty" the Normal Template so that changes to AutoTexts, macros, and Styles put in Normal from other Files will be saved.

Some changes made to the template are not reflected as a "change" by Word such that pressing Ctrl-S (or using File > Save) will save them. You can force the "changed" or "dirty" state by doing the following:

Type any letter. Use the backspace key to erase it. Do not use Undo or Ctrl-Z. Then press Ctrl-S to save.

 

 

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