How to Edit a DOT File

By Kevin Lee

DOT files help you create identical copies of Word documents.
i Phil Ashley/Lifesize/Getty Images

DOT files are templates used in Microsoft Word. A template is similar to a cookie cutter; you can use it to create identical objects. Microsoft Word comes with a supply of free templates that contain different layouts. An Inventory template, for example, may contain prebuilt tables and headings you can use to document and manage inventory items. If people in your business use DOT file templates while working in Word, you can edit those DOT files to suit your needs.

Edit DOT File

Launch Word, click "File" and then click "New." The file-selection window opens. Find the DOT file you wish to update and double-click it to open that file. When the document opens, you may see a variety of items including headings, images, logos, formatted paragraphs and even tables. The items you see depend on the way the template's author designed the template.

Type anything you like into the template. Add your own picture controls, text boxes, text and anything else you need to create the template you desire.

Delete objects you don’t want by clicking them and pressing your “Delete” key. Delete existing text by highlighting it and pressing “Delete.”

Reposition existing objects by moving them to new locations. Continue tailoring the document until you achieve the desired look.

Click "File” and select “Save As" to open the Save As window. Click "Save" if you want to replace the existing template or type a new name in the "File Name" text box and click "Save." You or other people can now use the template to create new Word documents.

Use Template to Create New Document

Click “File” and then click “New.”

Click “New from Existing” to open a file selection window that displays your hard drive’s folders.

Find the DOT file you updated click it to select that file.

Click “Create From New.” Word creates a new document using the modified DOT file as its template.

Click “File” and select “Save As” when you are ready to save that file.

Type a name for the file in the “File Name” text box. Click the “Save As Type” drop-down box and select one of the file types that appear in the list that appears. You will see choices such as .doc and .docx. These are the normal file types you see when you save an ordinary Word document. You can even choose the .dot file type if you’d like to save the document as a new template with a different file name. By default, Word displays the original file name in the "File Name" text box. It also leaves the original file type in the "Save as Type" drop-down box. If you do not change these values, you will overwrite the DOT file on which you based the new document.


Word 2007 and Word 2010 can open and mange DOTX files; these files, like DOT files, are templates. If you are working in Word 2007 or Word 2010, you can choose the DOTX file type when saving your modified template if you like. If you save using this format, remember that people who use Word 97 or Word 2003 will not be able to open the DOTX file. Those Word versions only support DOT files.