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Exploring Word - The Difference between .doc and .dot Formats

written by: johnsinit•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 3/31/2009

Templates help the users create Word documents in an effortless and fast method. They can store features like auto text, styles, shortcut keys, custom toolbars, and macros. One can use the style and features of an original document by saving it as a template in Microsoft word.

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    As most of you probably know, the two extensions .doc and .dot are used for original Word documents and the template Word documents, respectively. Every document has a template “attached" to it which can be later removed or altered. Documents that have “no template" defined when created/saved use the “" file as their template.

    A template can be regarded as a special kind of Word document which can hold styles, macros, custom toolbars, auto texts and keyboard shortcuts for easier word processing. All data related to the above features of a document are stored in a template rather than in the document itself.

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    When a Word document is created with the help of a template, it will have easy access to almost all features of the document. So you can save time and effort in generating a document with the use of a template you have previously created as the .dot file automatically does most of the formatting for you.

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    Save as

    You can save a Word document as a template and MS Word will attach the .dot extension to it instead of the regular .doc extension. But do not underestimate that simple extension change between a template and a Word document. You have created another kind of Word document – one that can be “attached" to other docs and apply its formatting, styles, etc. to the target doc.

    To ensure that Microsoft Word will be saving a document to a template through the “Save As’ command, substitute the proposed extension to .dot (Word template). In this case, Word automatically changes the destination folder to the default template folder so your template will be accessible right away. The data stored in a template can be copied “inside" the .doc file using the “Templates organizer", but that is a subject of another article. For now, let’s learn how to save the document as a template and create a new document from that template.

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    Saving a Template

    To save a document as a template, you have to perform the following steps.

    • Create the document you wish to use as a template.
    • Go to Main Menu -> File and click the “Save as" option.
    • Change the file type to .dot.

    Note that the destination folder changes. If it does not, be sure to change it manually. The path is generally:

    “C:\Documents and Settings\user name\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates"

    • Click Save and you have your template ready!


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    Generating a Document from a Template

    In order to create documents based on existing templates, you cannot use the Ctrl-N keyboard shortcut. You have to go to Main Menu -> File -> New…

    Next choose “Template on my computer" – you should be presented with the contents of the template folder to choose from.

    Pick the desired template and click Open. You should have a document which has a predefined template attached to it.


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    For more tips and tricks, be sure to check out the other items in Bright Hub's collection of Microsoft Word tutorials.