Office 2016 update (patch) disables customizations

January 3, 2016 at 2:12 pm

Microsoft recently confirmed that its December 17, 2015 update (patch) for the Office 2016 suite[1] wiped out customizations for some users, including AutoText entries, AutoComplete entries, styles, macros, and similar items.  In particular, customizations stored in the Normal.dotm template (the default template in Word) and the NormalEmail.dotm template (the default template in Outlook) might be – or appear to be – missing.[2]

Apparently, the customizations still exist, but the update changed the name of one or more files where they are stored, so the programs can’t find the file(s).

For more information, see this blurb from Microsoft, which contains a link to a Microsoft Knowledge Base Article that provides step-by-step instructions on how to fix the problem:

Missing autotext, styles, and other customizations in Word 2016?

Here is a direct link to the Microsoft Knowledge Base article that details the resolution:

Missing customizations in Office Word after an update

It appears to be a rather complicated fix, consisting of nearly a dozen steps.  If it makes you feel more comfortable, do some additional research first.  Also, read through all of the steps before starting, and then go slowly!

It’s a good idea to make copies of / back up your Normal.dotm and NormalEmail.dotm templates on a regular basis anyway in case of file corruption or some other problem. The default location for those files is:


With luck, you will be able to make backups before your version of Office 2016 is patched (to build 16.0.6366.xxxx).[3]  If your version is patched later on and you lose your customizations, you can browse to the problematic versions of Normal.dotm and NormalEmail.dotm, rename them (e.g., to NormalBad.dotm and NormalEmailBad.dotm[4]), find your backups, and rename those files Normal.dotm and NormalEmail.dotm, respectively.  CAUTION:  Be sure to exit from Word and Outlook before renaming these templates.


[1]  From what I’ve read, it sounds as though the update that caused the problem was a Windows 10 update, which suggests that only users running Windows 10 are affected.  People have reported problems with both Word 2016 and Outlook 2016.

[2]  I discovered the problem quite by accident after experiencing some odd changes in the behavior of Word 2016 on my Windows 10 laptop.  And after a crash, I noticed that a recovered file was missing my custom styles – so I ended up opening the original file (which still had my custom styles available), copying text that I had added to the recovered file, and then re-saving / backing up the original file.  A good reminder to save frequently, as well as to create backup copies of important documents and to store them in the cloud and/or on external media.

[3]  To determine the build number of your version of Word 2016 (or Outlook 2016), click the File tab, Account (or Office Account).  The build is displayed at right, in the section labeled “Office Updates.”  As for backup copies of Normal.dotm and NormalEmail.dotm, there’s nothing wrong with naming the copies Backup of Normal.dotm and Backup of NormalEmail.dotm.  You might want to include the current date in the file name (Backup of Normal 1-3-2016.dotm, Backup of NormalEmail 1-3-2016.dotm) so that you know when the file was created.

[4]  When I rename a Normal.dotm or NormalEmail.dotm template, I usually use the current date in the name – such as Normal 1-3-2016.dotm or NormalEmail 1-3-2016.dotm.  If the templates are problematic, I put that into the name, too:  NormalBad 1-3-2016.dotm or NormalEmailBad 1-3-2016.dotm.

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