Adapting the Normal Template in Word


One of the keys to understanding how Word works is to know that any document you produce is created using templates and styles, whether you realise it or not.

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When you open a blank document, you are really accessing a default template that comes with Word, called the Normal template (in Word 2003) or the Blank Document template (in Word 2007).

It may look blank, but it actually contains a fair amount of formatting and other settings already completed, in order to allow you to just start typing. The idea is that you don’t need to set your margins, and choose a font, etc, each time you want to create a document.

However, in many instances, the “factory settings” may not be quite what you require, and you find yourself changing Times New Roman 12pt Left Alignment with 3cm margins all round, to Arial 11pt Justified text with 2cm margins. What a waste of time if you have to do that every time you write!

How to modify the Normal template:

By changing the settings of the Normal template to suit the specifications that you want in your document, you will have everything set up exactly as you like it every time you start working on a new document.

1. First find the location of your Normal template.

  • Word 2003: Do this by clicking FILE, NEW…, click “On my computer” in the New Document Task Pane
  • Without opening Normal template, right-click on its icon and select Properties
  • Copy the Normal template’s location, eg “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Templates”, by highlighting it, then right-clicking on the highlighted text and selecting “Copy” (or using Ctrl-c on your keyboard).
  • Word 2007: Click OFFICE BUTTON, NEW, click "My Templates..." under Templates on the left
  • In the New Dialogue Box that pops up, right-click "Blank Document" under My Templates
  • Select Properties and copy the location of the Blank Document template, eg "C:\Users\Name\Microsoft\Templates" (highlight the text and press Ctrl-c)
  • Close all dialog boxes without choosing any template

2. Open the Normal/Blank template from its location

  • Click FILE*, OPEN… and paste (use Ctrl-v as right-clicking is not available) the Normal template’s location into the File Name box in the Open dialog box. Click OPEN. (*Or OFFICE BUTTON for Word 2007)
  • Select the Normal template / Blank Document template and click OPEN.

3. Edit your template

Make all the changes to your formatting that you find you have to do over and over – eg, change the font, font size, margins, and anything else that you need.

4. Save and close your Normal template.

If you make a mistake you can restore the default settings by going to the location of the Normal template and changing its name (ensure all documents are closed). Word will automatically recreate a new Normal template with the original settings.

copyright © Elsa Neal 2005,2010

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Elle Carter Neal

Elle Carter Neal is the author of the picture book I Own All the Blue and the teen science-fantasy novel Madison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin. She has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, holding childhood slumber-party audiences entranced until the early hours of the morning. Elle decided to be an author the day she discovered that real people wrote books and that writing books was a real job. Join Elle on her new publishing adventure.