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: Setting a Default Document Format.

Setting a Default Document Format

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated June 25, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Normally, Word saves your documents in what is known as Word format. Technically, this means different things for different versions of Word. One simple way of looking at it, however, is that it means your documents are stored in a peculiar way that is understood by your version of Word, but may not be understood by other programs.

If you do a lot of work creating documents for other versions of Word or other programs, you may want to specify a different default file format for your documents. Word makes this easy by following these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button, then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or later versions display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click the Save option at the left side of the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Save option of the Word Options dialog box.

  4. Use the Save Files In This Format drop-down list to select a default file format.
  5. Click on OK.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10512) 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: Setting a Default Document Format.

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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