Microsoft Word: The ideal setting

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA

Q: I've grown weary of having to change Word's default fonts and formats, as well as insert footers each time I create a new Word document, so I've resorted to opening a saved blank document where I've already specified my default fonts and formats, including my default footer. This seems to work fairly well, but is there a better way to accomplish my objective?

A: I like your solution just fine, but you might also consider saving your blank document as a template as follows. From the File tab, select Save As, scroll to the desired file location, enter a desired file name in the File name box, and select Word Template from the Save as type dropdown box (as pictured below), and click Save.


The advantage of saving your blank document as a template is that Word will then prompt you to enter a new file name each time you open the template and then save your document for the first time; otherwise, you could accidentally save over your blank document without first changing the file name, thus overwriting your blank document with the edits and other new changes you've

Here's another approach to consider. Each time you open a new Word document, you are actually opening the Normal template. You can edit the Normal template's default fonts and formatting from the Home tab by right-clicking the Normal style icon (from the Styles group), and selecting Modify (as pictured below).


The resulting Modify Style dialog box allows you to make a multitude of changes regarding fonts, paragraphs, tabs, borders, frames, numbering, text effects, and more.


Once you have adjusted the various settings to suit your preferences, click the radio button labeled
New documents based on this template (pointed out above) and click OK. Thereafter, your preferences will be applied to all new documents.

About the author

J. Carlton Collins ( is a technology consultant, a CPE instructor, and a JofA contributing editor.

Note: Instructions for Microsoft Office in “Technology Q&A” refer to the 2013, 2010, and 2007 versions, unless otherwise specified.

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