Have you ever opened up a new document in Microsoft Word and find you don’t have a blank document, but rather something else? Arnold wrote us from Florida hoping for help in getting just a plain old blank document back. Here’s how you can solve this problem.

The blank document that opens when you start up a new file in Word is opened from the Normal template. If anything on that template is changed and saved, then it will open with those changes. In most cases, you’ll get a warning before saving, but this can be confusing as it was likely when you tried to close a document you were working on. You may have thought you were simply saving that document.

 normalwarn1

To bring the Normal template back to, well, normal, you need to delete or rename the original template. This does involve finding the file location, which means clicking on a lot of folders, so bear with me!

First, go to the C drive of your computer by going to Computer or File Explorer.  You’ll need to turn on Hidden items to get to the file we need, so on Windows 8, go to the View tab, then checkmark Hidden items. For accessing hidden folders on Windows 7 or Vista, see this article.

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Now, in the C drive, double-click the following folders:  Users/(Your user name)/AppData (this is a hidden folder, so it may look grayed out)/Roaming/Microsoft/Templates. You will see the Normal.dotm file.

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You can delete the file completely, or you can simply rename the file. Either way, once the file has been renamed or removed, when you open a new document in Word, the blank document template will be back.

To make sure you get that warning mentioned earlier, you may want to change your options in Word to reflect this. I noticed that on my version of Word (2013), it’s not checked by default.  To make sure you get warned of any changes to the normal template, you have to go to File and Options. This may vary from version to version, but usually it is under Advanced. Scroll down to Save settings.  Check the box next to Prompt before saving Normal template. This can prevent unintentional changes, provided you read the box when the warning comes up.

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~Audra