The Normal.dotm template is the basis for any new blank documents you create.
If you start with a new document and make changes you will not be able to save it as your Normal.dotm template.
Normal.dotm is a special type of Global Template created and used by Word and should be in the User Templates folder.
Always open the original file using (File > Open)
Whenever you create a new document by clicking (File > New) a copy of the file called Normal.dotm is created and is presented as a new document.
Normal.dotm is the one file that is always open when Word is running.
This template is used a document template.
If you change something in the Normal.dotm then all new documents will reflect those changes.
If Word is unable to find your Normal.dotm file or it is damaged then a new one will be created using the default settings.
What is this template used for ?
Your personal toolbar configuration which is only available on your computer is stored in the Normal.dotm.
This template should not be shared and must be saved in your User Templates folder.
Also unlike other global templates, it shares styles with all open documents.
The normal template includes 90+ built in styles and built in autotext entries.
As you work, any new styles, autotext entires, macros or other customisations are stored in the Normal template unless you intentionally choose a different template and therefore the longer you work with Word the more personalised your Normal template becomes.
It is much simpler and safer to store your own custom macros in a different template and then to make this a global template.
This template can be found in the following place:
This can be found by opening (File > Options)(Advanced, General, File Locations). Select the "User templates" item in the list and press the Modify button.
Microsoft 365 - C:\Users\"user name"\AppData\Roaming/Microsoft\Templates\
Word 2019 - C:\Users\"user name"\AppData\Microsoft\Templates\
Word 2016 - C:\Users\"user name"\AppData\Microsoft\Templates\
Word 2013 - C:\Documents and Settings\"user name"\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates\
Saving changes to your Normal.dotm
When you save changes to your Normal.dotm it will be saved in whatever folder that has been assigned to the User Templates folder location.
Automatic Creation of the Normal.dotm
If this template has been removed or deleted then Word will create one for you automatically.
When it does it will be created in whatever folder has been assigned to the User Templates folder location.
If Word is unable to find a Normal.dotm when it starts, one will be created using its own default settings.
The default installation location for the Normal.dotm is the User Templates folder.
Which Normal Template will be loaded ?
What happens if a PC has several Normal.dotm templates available saved in various locations.
Which template is actually used ?
Customising your Normal.dotm
You can change the styles etc
You can also change the menus, toolbars, views, fonts anything ??
Any changes made to the Normal.dotm will be saved in the "User Templates" folder location.
If this folder is pointing to a shared drive you will be unable to save any changes as the file will be locked by other users.
This template always exists and will be created automatically.
Your Normal template is often the most likely target for macro viruses and should therefore be backed up regularly.
This template can be a very good place to store very simple macros.
This template should not be shared or saved on a network drive. If you want to distribute any macros or customisations to other users then you should use a global template.
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