Create a Default Template on Microsoft Word

December 2016

By default, Microsoft Word uses a document template called Normal.dorm, which automatically applies the same settings to each new document opened in the word processing software.

Although formatting options are extremely versatile in regards to changing fonts, margins, and inserting images, if you prefer to utilize a different template, it can be a bit of a pain reconfigure layouts every time you open a new document. Luckily, Word offers an easy way to tweak its default template so that your preferred settings are automatically applied to each new document.

Change Default Template on Microsoft Word


Windows XP, running Office 2003 or earlier

  • Navigate to C:\Documents and Settings\%USERNAME%\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates
  • Open the Normal.dot file.
  • Edit and save the file.

Windows XP, running Office 2007 or 2010

  • Navigate to C:\Documents and Settings\%USERNAME%\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates
  • Open the Normal.dotm file.
  • Edit and save the file.

Windows Vista and later, running Office 2003 or earlier

Things get complicated here, as Windows Vista integrates new security features, namely the with User Account Control and levels of user privileges .
Word do not have access to the Normal.dot file in write mode and you will need to to bypass this protection.
  • Navigate to the installation directory of Word:
    • 32-bit system - C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office[xx].
    • 64-bit system - C:\ Program Files(x86)\Microsoft Office\Office[xx].
  • Right click on WINWORD.EXE > Run as administrator.
  • If a password is required enter it or contact your administrator.
  • Click on File > Open and go for the C:\Users\%USERNAME%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates.
  • Select Normal.dot.
  • Edit and save the file.

Windows Vista, running Office 2007 or earlier

Office 2007 and the latest version of Microsoft Office are available as 32 or 64 bits versions.
Depending on the version of office you are using, the installation path will differ:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office[xx]

C:\Program Files(x86) Microsoft Office\ Office[xx]

N.B. Default templates will not be shared across a system that has multiple users. If you'd like to set a new default document for each system user, it should be done individually within each account.

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