Whenever you create a document in Microsoft Word, you’re actually creating it from a template.
If you click on the new document icon in Word’s icon tool bar, you create a document from Word’s default template, which is called normal.dot.
If you use the menu bar and chose File, New, Word opens its New Document task pane.
[If you don’t see the image above, check your email program’s settings.]
Here you can choose many different ways to create a new document. In each case, you create a new untitled document using some other document as a template. If you pick “from an existing document,” you’ll create a new, unnamed Word document that contains everything in the original.
Tech Tip: Warning – If you pick “Web Page” from the New Document panel, you’ll create a document in the “Single File Web Page” (.mht/.mhtml) format that is only recognized by Internet Explorer. Don’t do this!
Templates can be a quite powerful tool for you. More so, they can keep you from a big mistake…
Have you ever opened a document, erased a bunch of it, rewritten it for a different purpose, and then accidentally saved it over the original? I have… There are three ways you can avoid that problem.
You probably have a document that you’re going to use again and again. For example, you might have a blank letter into which you’ve inserted your letterhead, the signature block you prefer to use, selected the font(s) and sizes you like.
The easiest choice here is to do a File, Save As — and in the Save As dialog box, below the File Name input box, change the Save As Type to “Document Template (*.dot).” Then, you can choose this as the template when you make a new document.
Tech Tip: Warning – If you “Open” a .dot template file, you are editing the template — with all the chances of inadvertently messing up the original that you have by editing an existing document. Use the New Document task pane (File, New) to create your new documents.
If you have an existing document that you don’t plan to frequently use as a document base, use the “File, New” task pane to use the existing document as a template this time. You’ll get all the current contents and have to delete the stuff you don’t want, but you won’t have the danger of accidentally overwriting your original.
Or, if you insist on using “File, Open” to open an existing file so you can use it as the basis for your new document, then you should immediately use “File, Save As” to save it under a new file name. That way, if something goes wrong, you haven’t destroyed your original.
By the way, this last option is also a very smart thing to do when you edit your digital photos. Or, when you have a long document that on which you have (or will be spending) a lot of time.
Open, Stop, Rename – Always edit a copy.