About Normal.dot in Microsoft Word


Understanding normal.dot is important if you're an avid user of Word. Normal.dot (endearingly referred to as Normal Dot Dot) is the default or global template that Word uses to create a blank document. Normal.dot is always in use when Word is open, even if you are using another template. Normal.dot files commonly become corrupt. They also store macro viruses, though email viruses are much more popular than Word viruses ever were, and it's hardly an issue anymore.

Some Facts About Normal.dot

  • When you launch Word, it looks for normal.dot and opens it. If your normal.dot is corrupt, it can cause Word to crash upon launching.
  • If Word cannot locate a normal.dot file, it creates a brand new one.
  • When you first install Word, normal.dot is not installed. Hence, uninstalling does not delete normal.dot.

These facts explain why reinstalling Office or Word does not fix a problem with a corrupt or virus-infected normal.dot file. Your newly installed Word application finds normal.dot right where it was before.

Location of Normal.dot

The location of the normal.dot file that Word is looking for can be found by opening Word, and using Tools Options, File locations tab. Choose User templates. The location is in the lower area of the window under Folder name.

Word's normal.dot is a hidden file. To view them, you must change the settings under Windows Explorer by taking the following steps:

  1. Double-click My Computer
  2. Hit ToolsFolder Options and click on the View tab
  3. Tick the button that says Show Hidden Files and Folders

More facts on Normal.dot

  • Normal.dot stores such settings as AutoText entries, custom toolbars, and macros. You can copy these settings to a new normal.dot or other document or template by using the Organizer.
  • Normal.dot is a hidden/system file. Hence, Windows XP users must open My Computer, hit Tools Folder Options, View tab, and turn ON showing hidden or system files so that they can see it. You must also customize your search options to search hidden and system files.

Troubleshooting Normal.dot

If you suspect you have a corrupt normal.dot, simply close Word, then do a search on your hard drive for it. Rename it to abnormal.dot. Click here and read Step 1 only to learn how. Relaunch Word and all should be well.

For more information on normal.dot and templates in Word 2003, see the MS Technet Article at http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;826867.

If you are unable to resolve your Word issues by troubleshooting normal.dot,click here for the article that contains all the troubleshooting steps.

Editing Normal.dot

If you want to edit your normal.dot file directly, there's a rule. First try to change the setting you desire to change by using a blank Word document. Some settings, such as Fonts, have a DEFAULT button you can hit. If there isn't one, you'll likely have to open your normal.dot.

Find the location of normal.dot as described above. Close all Word documents to that there are no documents open, and your Word window is gray. Then File Open, and browse to your normal.dot file and open it. Make any changes you like, save it, and close it. Close Word and reopen to be sure all your changes have taken effect.

Tip: Changes to the default view in Word won't "take" unless you also make some other change as well. So type something, delete it, change the view, save and close normal.dot.

Save it!

If you make any changes to your Word settings, or create any macros or anything else that'll change your normal.dot file, then you ought to make a backup of it from time to time. Word must be closed. Use Windows Explorer to create a copy of it. Email it to yourself at home or from home to work, or put it on a floppy (but I hate floppies and they die too easily).