Creating New Word 12 Files from Windows Explorer

A few days ago, in one of the public newsgroups, someone posted about a problem when creating new Word files in Windows Explorer. First, set your default font in Word to something other than Calibri 11 point. To do this, press Ctrl+D, select a different font and/or point size, then click Default. Click Yes to changing the default. If prompted later, say Yes to saving the changes in Normal.dotm.

Next, try the following:

  1. In Windows Explorer, right click in the files area and choose New->Microsoft Office Word Document.
  2. Type a name for the file, the double-click to open it.
  3. Regardless of your own default font and point size, Word will have created a file that uses Calibri 11 point as the default font.

Now, try it again, only this time choose New->Microsoft Office Word 97-2003 Document. This time, Word will correctly use your defaults, rather than its own hard-coded Calibri 11.

CAUTION: Editing the registry can damage windows and prevent your computer, office, and word from starting. It can also put out an eye. Edit your registry at your own risk.

The behavior for Word 97-2003 documents is controlled by the registry’s settings for what it does when you create a new .doc file in the “shell” (Windows Explorer). This is controlled by the following registry location:


In particular, it’s controlled by the FileName variable, which tells the system to look for WINWORD8.DOC, contained in the \windows\ShellNew folder.

If you look down a little later, however at:


there is no FileName variable. So, when you create a new .docx file this way, Word sees that there is no reference template or file, and it uses its own internal default Calibri 11 rather than the user’s default font settings.

A partial fix for this behavior is to create a new FileName variable in the docx registry location, pointing to a file that contains the desired default fonts, such as a file you might name WINWORD12.DOCX (you would need to create that file, too, not just a pointer to it). Then, when you create a new file using the NewðMicrosoft Office Word Document method from Windows Explorer, it will use the defaults contained in that file (WINWORD12.DOCX, for example).

This does not solve the whole problem, however. That’s because when you change the default font in Word 12, it stores the new default in Normal.dotm and in WINWORD8.DOC. The change doesn’t get communicated to your WINWORD12.DOCX.

The obvious solution is to point the .docx\Word.Document.12\ShellNew FileName variable at WINWORD8.DOC, right? Well, that is what logic dictates. However, when you do that and create a new file, the resulting file cannot be opened by Word. So, FileName has to point to a different file.

You might be tempted to point FileName at Normal.dotm in its default location. This, too, doesn’t work. It tells you that the folder is in use, creates two new files (instead of one), and both use Calibri 11 regardless of your default settings. So, unless someone else discovers a different work-around, we’re left with half a solution.

Of course, if you create new files from within Word 12/2007 itself, then you don’t need this solution. You need this solution only if you’re addicted to the Windows Explorer method. In a later article, I’ll look at other solutions.

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4 Responses to Creating New Word 12 Files from Windows Explorer

  1. DK says:

    Hi I’m a support escalation engineer at Microsoft and I wanted to let you know we now have a hotfix for this issue. Please see for details. Note: Although the KB article doesn’t specifically mention the default fonts, the fix applies the user’s normal.dotm file to the DOCX file when it is opened in Word 2007.

    Customer’s will need to contact Microsoft Support to request the hotfix be sent to them.

    DK Pfeiffer

  2. herbt3 says:

    That’s good news! Thanks for the info.

  3. Bernard Cadogan says:

    It seems likely that this hotfix is now included in the latest Office 2007 fixes since the problem disapeared on my system after I allowed Word to apply the latest updates.

  4. Joe says:

    Searching for the same context menu bug (Calibri 11 font) in Word 2010 document, Windows 7. I made a number of changes to normal.dotm, including “show text boundaries” and no “10pt after” spacing, as well as a dozen macros for JOVE shortcuts I have used for years (Johnathan’s Own Version of EMACS). I just realized the text boundaries were showing up, and checking the settings, the ONLY changes that are not picked up by the context menu Word file are the font (I want to use Times New Roman 11pt) and the file type (“.doc” not “.docx”). Go figure. -Joe

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