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Recovered Document becomes Default

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Recovered Document becomes Default.

When Word runs into a problem that stops it from functioning—such as a program error or an abnormal shutdown of the program—it tries to recover any documents you were working on before. When Word is restarted, it recognizes that there were "unsaved" versions of any previously open documents, and it shows them as "recovered" documents that you can then save.

In some strange situations, it may be possible that Word recognizes your Normal.dot template file as unsaved and attempts to recover it. If this occurs, make sure you examine the file carefully to ensure that it contains only what you want it to contain. If, for instance, the recovered template contains text, and you tell Word to save the recovered file, then that text will always be visible in any new document created with Normal.dot.

If you find yourself in this situation—with unwanted text in what you expect to be a blank document—then there are a couple of things you can do to rectify the situation.

First, if you have no macros, customized toolbars, special styles, or unique AutoText entries, you can simply delete the Normal.dot file. Get out of Word completely and then use the Windows Search tool to locate the file Normal.dot. When you find it, rename it to something else or simply delete it. When you restart Word, it will recreate the template file, and the document will again be blank.

If your system does have customizations that you want to keep, follow these steps:

  1. Use the Windows Search tool to locate the Normal.dotm file. Note the location of the file.
  2. Start Word. The default document that is displayed should contain the unwanted text. Ignore it for the moment.
  3. Display the Open dialog box and use it to locate and load the Normal.dot file you found in step 1.
  4. Press Ctrl+A. This selects all the text in the document.
  5. Press the Delete key. The unwanted text is now gone.
  6. Press Ctrl+A again. The only thing left in the document to select is the ending paragraph mark in the blank document, but this action selects that.
  7. Press Ctrl+Space Bar. This sets the character formatting for the paragraph back to its default, based on the underlying style.
  8. Press Ctrl+Q. This sets the paragraph formatting for the paragraph back to its default, again based on the underlying style.
  9. Save the template.
  10. Exit and restart Word.

Besides these two methods of clearing out your Normal.dot file, there are a few others you can try, as well. The following Web page provides some good ideas on other things you can try:


WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (299) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Recovered Document becomes Default.

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