By Faithe Wempen

Microsoft Word is the most popular of the Office 2013 applications because nearly everyone needs to create text documents of one type or another. With Word, you can create everything from fax cover sheets to school research papers to family holiday letters.

You can create a blank new document, or you can base a new document on a template. Each Office application has some templates that are stored locally on your hard drive and many more that are available via the Internet. After starting a new document, you can adjust the paper size and orientation if needed.

A template is a special type of document that’s designed to be a model for new documents. Templates have a different file extension (.dotx or .dotm) than regular documents (.docx or .doc). When you start a new document based on a template, the template file itself is unaffected, so it’s always the same each time you use it.

Even when you start a blank document, you’re still (technically) using a template. It’s a template called Normal, and it specifies certain default settings for a new blank document, such as the default fonts (Calibri for body text and Cambria for headings), default font sizes (11 point for body text), and margins (1 inch on all sides).

When you create a new document by clicking the Blank Document icon or by pressing Ctrl+N, the resulting document is based on the Normal template. If you stick with the default values for the Normal template’s definition, the Normal template doesn’t exist as a separate file. It’s built into Word itself.

You won’t find it if you search your hard drive for it. However, if you make a change to one or more of the Normal template’s settings, Word saves them to a file called Normal.dotm. If Word at any point can’t find Normal.dotm, it reverts to its internally stored copy and goes back to the default values.

That’s important to know because if you ever accidentally redefine the Normal template so that it produces documents with unwanted settings, or if it ever gets corrupted, all you have to do is find and delete Normal.dotm from your hard drive, and you go back to a fresh-from-the-factory version of the default settings for new blank documents. The template is stored in C:UsersuserAppDataRoamingMicrosoftTemplates, where user is the logged-in username.