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: Updating Many Template References.

Updating Many Template References

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 3, 2012)

Over the years Phillip's company has developed thousands and thousands of Word documents. They recently changed their network infrastructure to use different servers and upgraded computers for everyone in Phillip's department. When someone opens one of those pre-existing documents, it looks for a template that existed in the old infrastructure, but is no longer available. This means that the document takes a long time to open, after which point they can change the bad template reference. If Phillip has to open each of the old documents it is going to take days and days to do it, so he wonders if there is any way to change the template references more efficiently, without the need to open each document.

This can be a real bother—there are few things worse (in the office) than staring at a computer screen, waiting for some process to finish. What is happening is that Word thinks your templates are in a particular location, and it asks Windows to go get the template at that location. Windows dutifully tries (and tries and tries) to comply, repeatedly looking for the location. Each attempt times out, and the aggregate time spent in this vain attempt is quite noticeable.

A solution would be to use a macro to load each document in a directory and change the template attached to that document. The following is an example of such a macro:

Sub BatchTemplateChange()
    Dim sPathToTemplates As String
    Dim sPathToDocs As String
    Dim sDoc As String
    Dim dDoc As Document
    Dim sNewTemplate As String
    Dim i As Long

    On Error Resume Next
    Application.ScreenUpdating = False

    sNewTemplate = "normal.dot"         'new template name
    sPathToDocs = Options.DefaultFilePath(wdDocumentsPath) & "\"
    sPathToTemplates = Options.DefaultFilePath(wdUserTemplatesPath) & "\"

    sDoc = Dir(sPathToDocs & "*.doc")

    While Len(sDoc) <> 0
        Set dDoc = Documents.Open(FileName:=sPathToDocs & sDoc)
        dDoc.AttachedTemplate = sPathToTemplates & sNewTemplate
        dDoc.Close wdSaveChanges
        sDoc = Dir
        i = i + 1
    Wend

    Application.ScreenUpdating = True
    MsgBox "Finished: " & i & " documents changed"
End Sub

Note that the macro loads each document in the default document location, but that doesn't necessarily speed up the loading. The benefit of using the macro is that you can start it running and allow it to work while you are away from the computer.

Additional ideas for a programmatic approach can be found at the following sites:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/830561
http://www.edugeek.net/forums/scripts/35199-vba-script-change-word-document-template-location.html

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11404) 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: Updating Many Template References.

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. ...

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