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So, I have a Microsoft Word template (.dotx file). I want to make some changes to it, so new documents based on it will look different.

I open the template, make my changes, and hit save. Then Word prompts me for a location, because it thinks that I want to create a new Word document based on this template. I don't, so I go to Office > Save As and try to save it to the original template file...but it says I can't because I already have that file open.

I thought about saving it to a new file, then just switching file names around to get it back in the location of the original template, but I worry that documents based on this template will lose their association with the template the were based on.

There has to be a better way, and I suspect I'm missing something extremely obvious here.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted
  1. Open the Microsoft Word Template file (*.dotx)

  2. Edit it.

  3. Save it under another name.

  4. Close Microsoft Word.

  5. Delete the original and rename the new one to replace the original.

Alternatives: How to modify an existing template in Word 2007?

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I read that same article, and it didn't work, but I think I found the problem. I was opening the template by just double clicking on it. That must trigger Word into a mode where it thinks you're creating a new document. But if you open a template from Office > Open, it acts differently. –  Deane Jan 29 '11 at 19:11
I would suggest you to save it as a different template and then rename them. –  Tom Wijsman Jan 29 '11 at 19:12

To clarify some earlier responses:

It is not necessary to save under other name, delete original, then rename new version, etc. I was doing this myself for a very long time until I found the link below.


As the link and also one of the earlier responses (Deane) said, if you right click on the template icon, click Open, make your changes, and then click Save, you will permanently modify the template in one simple step.

If you just double click the template icon to open it, however, you are not editing the template; instead, you are creating a new document based on the template. This does seem to be "one of those things" in Word. We normally assume that double-clicking to open and right-clicking and then clicking on Open cause the same outcome. Not in this case, however.

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On the Review tab, in the Protect group, click Protect Document, and then click Restrict Formatting and Editing. In the Protect Document task pane, click Stop Protection. If you assigned a password to help protect the document, in the Unprotect Document dialog box, type the password. Select the parts of the document that you want to be unrestricted. For example, select a block of paragraphs, a heading, a sentence, or a word. Continue to select parts of the document and assign users permission to edit them. Under Start enforcement, click Yes, Start Enforcing Protection.

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When you see a *.doc* document in windows explorer the default context menu option (rght-click) is Open - so double-clicking on the document will open it

When you see a *.dot* document in windows explorer the default context menu option (rght-click) is New - so double-clicking on the document will open a new document based on this template. To edit the template you will need to right click on the document and selected Open from the context menu.

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Hmm... This looks a lot like the answer from three months ago. –  G-Man Jun 1 at 4:38

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