Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Recovered Document becomes Default.

Recovered Document becomes Default

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated June 4, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


When Word runs into a problem that stops it from functioning—such as a program error or an abnormal shutdown of the program—it tries to recover any documents you were working on. This feature only works when you have the AutoRecover feature turned on, as described in this tip: "Saving Your Work Automatically." When Word is restarted, it recognizes that there were "unsaved" versions of previously open documents, and it shows them as "recovered" documents that you can now chose Save or Discard.

In some strange situations, it may be possible that Word recognizes your Normal template file as unsaved and attempts to recover it. If this occurs, make sure you examine the file carefully to ensure that it contains only what you want it to contain. If, for instance, the recovered template contains text, and you tell Word to save the recovered file, then that text will always be visible in any new document created with the Normal template.

If you find yourself in this situation—with unwanted text in what you expect to be a blank document—then there are a couple of things you can do to rectify the situation.

First, if you have no macros or special styles, you can simply delete the Normal template. Get out of Word completely and then use the Windows Search tool to locate the file Normal.dotm. When you find it, rename it to something else or simply delete it. When you restart Word, it will recreate the template file, and the document will again be blank.

If your system does have customizations that you want to keep, follow these steps:

  1. Use the Windows Search tool to locate the Normal.dotm file. Note the location of the file.
  2. Start Word. The default document that is displayed should contain the unwanted text. Ignore it for the moment.
  3. Display the Open dialog box and use it to locate and load the Normal.dotm file you found in step 1.
  4. Press Ctrl+A. This selects all the text in the template.
  5. Press the Delete key. The unwanted text is now gone.
  6. Press Ctrl+A again. The only thing left in the document to select is the ending paragraph mark in the blank document, but this action selects that.
  7. Press Ctrl+Space Bar. This sets the character formatting for the paragraph back to its default, based on the underlying style.
  8. Press Ctrl+Q. This sets the paragraph formatting for the paragraph back to its default, again based on the underlying style.
  9. Save the template.
  10. Exit and restart Word.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8838) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Recovered Document becomes Default.

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. ...

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