How Word Treats Normal.dot

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 6, 2016)

The Normal.dot template holds a special place in the hearts of long-time Word users. It is a special place where many of your customizations are held. In Word, Normal.dot is available for all documents, even on a freshly installed system.

At least it was historically. Word 2002 and Word 2003 treat Normal.dot a bit differently, giving it more of a diminished role in the grand scheme of things. Historically, if you delete Normal.dot and then restart Word, the program will create a brand new version of Normal.dot with everything configured for Word's default settings.

Not so in Word 2002 and Word 2003. If you do a fresh install of Word or if you delete Normal.dot, Word will not create a brand new one from scratch when restarting. Instead, it appears that the default values that used to be written to Normal.dot are maintained internally in Word, without the need of being written. This is confirmed by the following wording in Microsoft's Knowledge Base article 290232:

"...if the global template (Normal.dot) does not exist in Microsoft Word with which to create a blank document, Word uses its internally stored settings to create a new blank document."

So when does Word create Normal.dot? When you make a change to the defaults. For instance, if you change the default font or customize a toolbar, then the template is created. From that time on you can load and modify Normal.dot as you would like.

This is, of course, a big change in the way Word handles templates. Thus, if you are running a Help Desk, and you instruct a Word 2002 or Word 2003 user to delete their Normal.dot and restart Word, they cannot automatically load up Normal.dot and start making changes in it. Instead, you will need to instruct the user to do some task that forces Word to create Normal.dot (such as setting the default font), restart Word (the new Normal.dot should be saved upon exiting), and then load and modify Normal.dot.

This process for creating a new version of Normal.dot is discussed a bit in Microsoft's Knowledge Base article 291291. Notice that the article says you have to force a save (Save All) in order to save the change to the default font. This is when Normal.dot is actually created.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1558) applies to Microsoft Word 2002 and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Automatically Loading Add-ins

Want to load a particular add-in for use with a specific worksheet? Here's a quick way to do it using macros.

Discover More

Tracking Down Invalid References

When you discover that there is an invalid reference in a workbook, you can have a bear of a time tracking down the problem. ...

Discover More

Unable to Edit Document with Embedded Fonts

What are you to do if you embed fonts in a document and then someone else cannot make changes to that document? Chances are ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More WordTips (menu)

Continually Saving Normal.dot

If your Normal.dot file is continually saved when you exit Word, even when you haven't made any changes to it, the culprit ...

Discover More

Creating a Letterhead Template

Word is often used to write all sorts of letters. You may want to create a template that makes creating your letters easier ...

Discover More

Template Changing On Its Own

When you attach a template to a document, you expect that template to stay attached. When you share the document with others, ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 8 - 2?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.