How can I make Word open new documents in a certain view (Normal or Page Layout) or at a specified zoom ratio?

Article contributed by Suzanne S. Barnhill

Existing documents will open in the view and at the Zoom ratio in which they were saved. To change the View and Zoom settings for new documents, you must modify the template on which these documents are based. For the default Blank Document, this template will be in Word 2003 and earlier and Normal.dotm in Word 2007. Normal is the “global” template that not only is the basis for new Blank Documents but also stores many of the default settings in Word, and it is essential that you actually open the template and modify it the same way you would a document.

1.      The first thing you have to do is find the Normal template. Complete instructions for locating it are given in “Why is my ‘Blank Document’ not blank?

2.      Once you have found the Normal template, navigate to it using the Open dialog in Word; click on the file and open it. Alternatively, you can right-click on it in Windows Explorer and select Open.

What you can't do is double-click on the file in Windows Explorer, because that creates a new document based on the template, instead of opening the template. Similarly, if you right-click on the Blank Document icon in the New, Templates, or New Document dialog and choose Open, you are actually opening a copy of the template that can be saved only as a new template. Neither of these techniques will do what you want.

3.      When you have the template open for editing, change the view and/or zoom to the desired one.

4.      In Word 97 and above, you then need to make a “phantom edit”: press Spacebar followed by Backspace, or make some similar change, in order to make Word recognize that the file has been changed.1

5.      Finally, save.2

The next time you create a new document based on this template, you should see it in the desired view and zoom ratio. Note that these changes will not affect documents you have already created. In order to change them, you will have to open them individually and repeat the above process (including the vital “change” to trick Word into saving the document). You will also need to repeat the process with all other templates you use.


1 Word 97 and later versions will not allow you to save a file they don't regard as having changed. If Word doesn't register that a file has changed, the Undo button will be dimmed. If the button is enabled, you can save.

2 Using Ctrl+S, the Save command on the File or Office Button menu, or the Save button on the Standard toolbar or QAT—not Save As on the File or Office Button menu. If you can't save without giving the file a name, then you have done something wrong in opening the file and are not really working on but instead on a document or template based on it.