Settings To Change After You Install Word 2010

Word 2010 is a capable word processor, but some of the default settings on a newly installed copy don't make much sense. Here's some recommendations to improve them.

Word processing is a pretty broad activity, so settings that make sense for someone writing complex structured documents won't be the same as if you just use Word to dash out the occasional letter. Having the ability to change those elements is one of the features that distinguishes Word from its online competitors (including even the Web-based version of Word, which has far fewer options).

With that said, a few of the default settings in Word don't make much sense in terms of actually exposing useful features of the product, or ensuring that you can share your work with others. Here's a few to check before you get going. (These settings are based on Word 2010, but in many cases will work in Word 2007 as well. Older Word versions have different defaults and interfaces, so we haven't covered them here.)

Enable draft view as default

If you're mostly using Word to write text and are less concerned with final layout and formatting, then using Word's Draft view is often preferable, giving you more screen space and less clutter. To set it as the default view is possible, but well-buried. Click on File, select Options and choose Advanced. Scroll down until you find 'Allow opening a document in Draft view' and make sure it is ticked. Despite that odd phrasing, this setting will actually ensure you default to Draft view in all new documents. (Original post)

Make the Developer ribbon visible

We mentioned this in our general useful tips for Word users, but it's worth reiterating. The Ribbon itself can seem confusing and adding more segments to it might seem counter-productive. However, the Developer tab ensures you can gain access to recording macros, which is ideal for automating common tasks or creating your own keyboard shortcuts. To enable it, click on File then Options, choose 'Customize Ribbon', make sure that the Developer tab is ticked in the right-hand column, then click OK.

Change the default language to avoid US spellings

The official Microsoft version of how to change your default language for spell checking: click on File, select Options, and select Languages. Add English (Australia) or whatever other language from the drop-down list, and set as your Default. Click OK. (You may not need to do this if Office has picked up your regional Windows settings correctly.)

My personal experience? This rarely succeeds in maintaining the default language setting for any length of time. To make that happen slightly more consistently, you need to change the language in the normal.dotm template used as a master for new documents. To do this, use the search feature on the Windows to locate the normal.dotm file and then open it. Click on the Review tab, click on Language and select 'Set Proofing Language'. Make sure English (Australia) is selected and click on 'Set As Default'. You'll be asked to confirm your choice. Click OK, save the file, and then quit and reload Word for good measure.

Even after this, sometimes Word will choose to mark Australian spelling (such as '-ise' endings) as an error even when the document has Australian English specified as a default. I wish Microsoft would put a bit more effort into making this feature work and spend a bit less time messing around with Ribbon layout, but I've slowly learned to accept that Microsoft developers have never really cared about English language variants and this will never happen.

Set the default Save format

The default .docx format used in Word is more open than previous Word formats and less liable to corruption. But against that, it's difficult to open on many older machines, or for anyone who don't use more recent Word releases. While you can point them in the direction of Google for conversions, if you're regularly exchanging files with others and don't use really complex layout features then a different format may be more useful as your default.

To change your default Save format, click on File then Options then Save, and choose your preferred format under 'Save files in this format'. I recommend using the RTF option, which most systems can read. If you choose 'Word 97-2003', your file will actually be saved in RTF form anyway, albeit with a '.doc' extension. You can also choose even simpler formats such as text files, but Word will constantly nag you about loss of formatting every time you save the file if you choose that route.

Check out useful tips for Word users for some additional word processing tricks, and tell us your own most helpful Word tweaks in the comments.

Lifehacker 101 is a weekly feature covering fundamental techniques that Lifehacker constantly refers to, explaining them step-by-step. Hey, we were all newbies once, right?


    Regarding US english, I find there is no actual difference to the spelling if you use US or Australian, so I set the default language to UK.
    My region settings are still AU so time & currency is correct, but at least I get the spell checker working correctly.

      For me, the Australian English setting definitely has differences to US ('ise' as mentioned, words ending in 're' rather than US 'er' for starters).

        The English lexicon file in Word handles US, UK, Australian and Canadian spellings. The Aussie lexicon has been there since the early 90s, Canada added in 2000. The Australian lexicon was actually larger than any of the others due to the import of Australian lexicons (including Macquarie's in 2000). Unfortunately most people never used it as they retained their US machine settings.

        While Macquarie Dictionary do babble on about Americanisation, the truth is that they are misleading about ise/ize which is NOT a US vs UK issue. The OED in fact prefers IZE over ISE. It's only the US that effectively mandates ize over ise whereas around the rest of the world there has been a choice. I think Macquarie are just trying to sell their own add-ons.

        Word will pick up the language settings in Windows at install time. So if you have a machine configured with US keyboard language ( as distinct from layout ) or other similar settings, then Word has no other guidance that you are in Australia so you have to do it manually. Since so many OEMs are lazy they don't bother configuring many of their products for non-US markets, or users skip over that setting when they set up their own computers.

        " sometimes Word will choose to mark Australian spelling (such as ‘-ise’ endings) as an error even when the document has Australian English specified as a default. "

        This is because every single word in a Word document has a language setting which may be altered ( just as you can diverge from the default font ). If you paste in text from a document marked as English(US) into another document, the language setting is preserved, so you may end up with a document that has a mix of (English) languages. The proofing tools all load context-sensitively. You can address the issue later by selecting all the text and resetting the language. Also check that you haven't set up or imported styles with a non-Australian language setting.

        There was a bug I found a few years ago whereby if you had Language Auto Detection running and the document switched from (say) French back to English, then the text was marked as English(US) - ignoring the template default. I don't know if that has been fixed, although I did notify the Microsoft Language Group directly.

        "I’ve slowly learned to accept that Microsoft developers have never really cared about English language variants and this will never happen."
        Part of the problem is that the Word team does not take as much guidance from the Language Group development team as they should, so the tools don't get implemented properly in Word.

        Another part of the problem is that when language tools fail they typically revert to English(US) - and since that is the de facto default language of the testers they fail to notice that an error has taken place. This is only a problem for English language variants. Countries with smaller language bases (eg Norway or Sweden) will avoid this problem as they have specialised testers. once upon a time there were people in the Microsoft Australian subsidiary who could feed this information back to Redmond, but these days it's all marketing folks who don't really understand the problems or care enough to do something about them.

    My settings are:

    Changing auto-recovery saves to save every minute,
    Black theme (style nut)
    Embed full fonts in save files (I use many custom fonts)
    Quickly access -> 10 recent documents

    I will have to do these language and dev tools changes now too :D

    Awesome dudes!

    A while back I looked for that option to use draft format as the default for opening documents and couldn't find it.

    I do wish there were more colour options in MS Office. The sickly blue, sickly grey, and doof-doof black just don't do it for me at all.

    Several years ago I had to wrote an article on MS Word 97 about Anzac Day and the Anzac spirit. Naturally I was not surprised that the word Anzac was not in the English(US)dictionary but I was stunned by the automatically chosen word suggestion for Anzac was the word Nazi!

    An baffling co-incidence, I am sure.

      If you had typed ANZAC in all caps then it would have passed without further suggestions.

      The suggestions are entirely algorithmic based on typing errors related to finger placement (ie finger is one key off on your keyboard layout) or letters typed in wrogn ordre. So given that "anzac" and "nazi" share the same three letters, it's not really a baffling substitution.

      If you were using Word 97 I am surprised you didn't elect to set it to use the Australian dictionary.

    I find Word 2010 absolutely annoying.
    The default setting on Track Changes is frustrating and I have not solved the riddle to change the default.
    I work as a sole trader and do not collaborate with a swarm of bureaucrats. And to avoid the readers seeing the changes I have to Accept all changes on exit.
    I should be able to turn on Track Changes on as required not OFF every time I start Word.

    Also the collections of activities in the each element of the ribbon was designed by a schizophrenic. Why put Headers and Footers in Insert and not Page Layout? - I could fix that one!

      Bob, did anyone respond to your post? I am in the same boat. I am working in setting up procedures, policies etc and the people i am working with aren't major users of MS Word. It is very annoying to be sending drafts that always open in the Final with Mark-up mode.

      I have even tried unticking all the options in “show mark-up” but this is never saved.

    Regarding "Enable Draft mode as default" - it did not work. I just tried it on a brand new install of Win 7/Office 2010. I had to force the view setting by opening the .dotx, changing the view and saving. Just an FYI.

      Odd - I did a new install myself the other day and did this no worries. However, Word's behaviour in this area is often capricious.

    Thank you thank you thank you! I've been tearing my hair off because of the draft view problem. Now i can open documents in draft!

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