Reloading Building Blocks

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 13, 2024)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


Shirley has a good number of custom macros and Building Blocks in Word. Once in a while, when she opens Word, it deletes them all so that she no longer has any macros or Building Blocks. Shirley now saves her macros as a document and can reload them en masse when needed, but she needs to put Building Blocks back one by one. She wonders if there is a way to access the actual Building Blocks file and reload her building blocks in the same way.

Users are able to enter macros easily because of the VBA Editor. If you use the export and import capabilities of the editor, you don't even need to use a Word document to store your macros.

Building Blocks don't have anything analogous to the VBA Editor, and therefore don't have a way to import or export Building Blocks. This is, of course, the problem that Shirley is facing. Unfortunately, it is a problem that has been faced by Word users for years.

You see, Building Blocks are not stored in any singular, identifiable place. Instead, they can be stored in templates and those templates can be spread hither and yon on your system. This isn't as unusual as it may sound, as it is also possible for macros to be stored in various templates on your system. Heck, macros can even be stored in macro-enabled documents, which means macros could be just about anywhere—at least Building Blocks aren't that distributed!

Understanding where Building Blocks can be stored, the best approach is to simply back up your templates—all of them. The most important template to back up, of course, is your Normal.dotm template. This one is, in all likelihood, the one that Shirley periodically loses and has to "rebuild" en masse with her macros. If her Building Blocks go missing at the same time as her macros, then those Building Blocks are probably a part of the Normal.dotm template. Back up that template (storing it on, say, a USB drive somewhere) and then, once everything goes missing in Word, get out of the program and restore the Normal.dotm template to its expected place on your system. Restart, and you should then have everything restored.

If you want to be more comprehensive in your approach, then find a way to back up all of your macro-enabled documents and templates (to get all possible places for macros) and all of your templates of any type (to get all possible places for Building Blocks). In addition, you'll want to back up some very specific Building Block templates, as described in this tip:

If you want to know even more about Building Blocks and all the various places they can hide, I recommend an article written by Greg Maxey at this URL:

Greg makes a point that is a bit easy to miss in his article—Building Blocks can also be stored in Word add-ins. (Truth be told, the probability is high that macros are stored in those add-ins, as well.) This means that if you want a comprehensive backup of Building Blocks, you must also back up your add-ins.

You would think that Microsoft would make Building Blocks just a bit easier to track down, but that isn't the case. You quickly discover that they can be all over the place on your system, stored in any template (macro-enabled or not) or any add-in.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6204) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


Determining the Number of Visible Columns

When using a macro to process information in a worksheet, you may want that macro to figure out how many columns are ...

Discover More

Jumping Around Folders

When you open a workbook in Excel, the Open dialog box always starts within the folder in which you were last working. ...

Discover More

Converting a PDF File to a Word Document

PDF files seem to be everywhere; they are a standard way of exchanging documents with others. At some point you may want ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Quick Recall of Table Formats

Got a table that you use over and over again? One way you can make quick work of such repetition is to save the table in ...

Discover More

Synchronizing Building Blocks for a Network

Building blocks can be a great asset when putting together documents, as they make inserting standardized information ...

Discover More

Storing Building Block Entries with a Document

Building Blocks can provide quite a bit of flexibility and power in a document. If you want to share Building Blocks with ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is seven more than 9?

2019-04-01 04:52:25

Georg Lindic

Hi Allen,
if you select the ribbon "Insert", then quick parts | organizer for parts, you find a button "edit properties". Select a part name and then the button, you will be displayed a dialog showing the file name where the quick part is stored. (see Figure 1 below)
Sorry if the menu item names are slightly incorrect but I use the german version of Word.


Figure 1. 

This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.


FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.