Customize how Office starts or default Office templates

You can have customized document (Word), workbook and worksheet (Excel) or presentation (PowerPoint) opened up as default whenever you start corresponding Microsoft Office application.

In this article I’ll be talking a little bit about file name, content and location for each of three key Microsoft Office components. That is, what to store, where to store and how to name a file.


All you need is too prepare a document that suits your needs:

  • Modify font, styles, formatting etc.
  • Change default zoom if 100% is not good for you
  • Redefine keyboard shortcuts, if you’re suit to some non-default
  • Enable some options like word hyphenation, rulers etc.
  • Add some macros, if you’re automating your work or using custom code

Not everything can be customized. For example, if you change default font of your sheet or workbook in Excel you may notice that nearly every item follows this change except for chart’s labels. If you add new chart, it will have axis in your customized font. But for some weird reason, if you add value labels to such chart, they will appear in default font (i.e. Calibiri) and you’ll have to change it manually each time.

File type and name

Then hit F12 and select corresponding file type and name:

  • Microsoft Office:
    • Type: Word Macro-enabled Template (*.dotm)
    • Name: Normal.dotm
  • Microsoft Excel:
    • Type: Excel Macro-enabled Template (*.xltm)
    • Name: Book.xltm if saving workbook default template
    • Name: Sheet.xltm if saving sheet template
  • Microsoft PowerPoint:
    • Type: PowerPoint Macro-enabled Template (*.potm)
    • Name: Blank.dotm


  1. When you change file type to any of above, corresponding Office application will also change the folder where you’re saving these files. Note that in most case is this automatically selected folder is incorrect (see below).
  2. For Excel, when you use workbook default template you’ll change how Excel starts. If you save sheet template then your Excel will start normally and you’ll see modified template only after clicking (+) button next to sheets’ tab list.
  3. If you want to have default template in Excel for both sheet and workbook, you must copy your file as two different — Book.xltm and Sheet.xltm.

Not everything can be customized in your default template — see previous chapter.


There are three key Office components (Word, Excel and PowerPoint). If someone thinks that there is one single location for storing default templates then that person doesn’t know Microsoft too well.

For these three components there are two locations, Excel being a kind of weird exception:

  • Microsoft Word: c:\Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\
  • Microsoft Excel: c:\Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Excel\XLSTART\
  • Microsoft PowerPoint: c:\Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\

Of course you can use %APPDATA% shortcut for your convenience, so the above translates into:

  • Microsoft Word: %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Templates
  • Microsoft Excel: %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Excel\XLSTART\
  • Microsoft PowerPoint: %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Templates

I think that this is all. I have used “Customize how Excel starts” article from Microsoft Support as a source.

Trusted locations

If your templates uses some macros then you may want to add the folder(s) where you store your documents, sheets, presentations etc. as “safe location”.

You will find all the details in this blog post in this blog.

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