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Barry MacDonnell's
Toolbox for WordPerfect

Macros, tips, and templates for Corel® WordPerfect® for Windows®
© Copyright 1996-2019 by Barry MacDonnell. All Rights Reserved.

Page updated Nov 23, 2018

WordPerfect Tips
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How to set default formatting for new documents: A step-by-step guide

Some related pages -

WordPerfect Templates (the default template and creating custom templates)

Page numbering in WordPerfect

Custom line spacing (e.g., double space, 1.5 lines, etc.) and paragraph spacing

Create a custom template for special purposes

All about styles

Headers, footers, and watermarks

Using two footers at the same time

Even/Odd page identification

Footnotes and endnotes

Using the "Other Codes" feature

Resetting margins on page 2

Before you begin

The <WordPerfect> menu must be enabled for the following menu choices to be visible (right-click on the menu bar to choose a <WordPerfect> menu).

You should also have Reveal Codes open (View, Reveal Codes).

As with some other programs, changing default format settings for new documents (i.e., opened with File, New) means modifying the program's default template. [The default template is the one that is currently specified in Tools, Settings, Files, Template.] This is easy to do (see Method 1) -- and undo -- but you might want to locate this file and make a copy of it to back it up before making extensive changes to it. [See the page on templates for more information sbout finding (and fixing) this important file.]

For those familiar with the WordPerfect File menu's choices (see image in Step 2): Be sure to read the caution in the notes (below) about NOT setting the default font with File, Document, Default Font. Instead, use the File, Document, Current Document Style method suggested here.


•  Method 1 is for making quick and easy changes to default formatting for new blank documents

Related tips (for Method 1)

•  Method 2 is for moderate-to-extensive changes for new blank documents, and for creating new documents based on custom templates

Method 1

This method is best used for minor formatting changes.
For moderate to extensive changes, see Method 2.

Step 1. Open a new, blank document with File, New. While this step is not strictly necessary, it helps to isolate the task from other things you might be working on.

Step 2. You now have 3 choices.

In the new, blank document, you can ...

[a] ... either click on File, Document, Current Document Style ...

[b] ... or simply double-click on the [Open Style: DocumentStyle] code in the Reveal Codes window. It should be the first code at the very beginning of the document. [Code not there? See Footnote 1.]

[c] ... or click on Format, Styles, [Available styles:]DocumentStyle, Edit. [This choice is just an alternative to step 1[a] above.]

Any of these methods will open the Styles Editor dialog for the current document style (also called the "initial document style") as shown in Step 3.

Step 3. Make your format changes in the Styles Editor (shown below) using that dialog's menu and/or property bar at the top of the dialog. [Note: A slightly more advanced -- and easy -- method is to copy and paste the format code from any document into the Contents pane, as noted in the tip below. But for now please follow the basic method in the next paragraphs. This, too, is easy and might be best for some format defaults.]

For example, you might want to change the current font, font size, or page margins and make them the default for all new documents, too. Here's how do it.

[a] For font changes, click the Font Face and/or Font Size drop lists on the Editor's property bar and make your selections. When you do that, you will see new [Font] and/or [Font Size] codes appear in the Contents pane of the Styles Editor dialog.


It is possible to set decimal font sizes in WordPerfect such as 11.5 point, 12.7 point, etc., and even font sizes larger than 72 points. Click the Font size field's down arrow button on the property bar (just to the right of the number field) to expose the drop-down font size list. then type the desired decimal size (in tenths of a point) in the number field and press <Enter>. (You must press <Enter>, rather than <Tab>: If you use <Tab>, the setting won't "stick.")


1. Caution: There is an alternative way to set a default font -- but it is NOT a recommended method.
    You may have noticed that the File, Document submenu on the main WordPerfect menu has a choice, "Default Font" (see the image of the expanded File menu in Step 2 above). As well, there is a setting on the Format, Font menu to do this (see next screen shot below). For several technical reasons (see here) it is better NOT to use those methods to set the default font or font size for new documents. Instead, use the Styles Editor to set fonts or font sizes (and other document format defaults) as explained in the current example.

2. There is also an alternative way to open the Styles Editor for the [Open Style: DocumentStyle].
    You might have discovered that you can also open the Styles Editor (above) for the current document style with Format, Styles. In the Styles dialog that appears select "DocumentStyle" in the Available Styles list, and then click the Edit button. But as you can see, this takes a few extra mouse clicks compared to Step 2(a) above. [The Format, Styles method is typically used to create a QuickStyle; or to create, save, retrieve, delete, or edit custom styles; or to reset WordPerfect default styles.]

3. [Footnotes and endnotes: A special case.]
    For making permanent (but re-settable) changes to the default font (etc.) used inside footnotes and endnotes, which inherit their initial font from the default template font, see the tips page on this site about Footnotes and Endnotes -- specifically this section on that page.

[b] For page margin changes, click the Format menu choice, then choose Margins.

This opens the Page Setup dialog. On the right side of that dialog you can set new page margins. When you do that, you will see new margin codes appear in the Contents pane of the Styles Editor dialog. (Note that choosing a page margin setting that is already in existence will have no effect, so no code is entered.)


To re-set page margins on the next page (if there could be following pages), see "Need to reset page margins on page 2 (if there is a page 2) back to the one-inch default or some other setting?".

Similarly, you could change other formatting using the Styles Editor's menu, such as line spacing, paragraph formatting, etc. It is recommended you make only a few changes at a time, to be sure they are performing as you expect.

Step 4. IMPORTANT: Be sure to enable (i.e., tick) the checkbox at the bottom of the dialog, "Use as default," and click OK, then answer Yes to the confirmation dialog that pops up [screen shot]. The changes will affect both the current document and the default template that is specified in Tools, Settings, Files, Template. Since the latter "spawns" new blank documents when you use File, New, the changes will be inherited by those new documents.

Note: The "Show 'off codes' checkbox is useful with paragraph styles.

Related tips for Method 1:

☼  Why you might want to disable the "Use as default" checkbox.

There are two reasons for this suggested step:

[1] You might want to ensure that changes are made to JUST the CURRENT DOCUMENT.

In Method 1 above you are changing the current document's format settings in its initial style code AND you are saving the changes to the default template (in Step 4 above).

But you can use the method anytime to -

[a] change just the current document's formatting (Step 3), then
[b] clear (un-tick) the "Use as default" checkbox BEFORE clicking OK.

That way, your changes will apply to the current document only; they won't be saved to the template and affect new documents.

[2] You might want to ensure you DON'T make future accidental changes to NEW DOCUMENTS.

After you close the Styles Editor (Step 4) and test the current document with your new changes you might want to go back later and clear (un-tick) the "Use as default" checkbox to prevent future unwanted changes to the default template when using the method above. (This can be easy to do accidentally if you don't notice the state of that checkbox in Step 3.)

Hence, if all you might want to do in future sessions is change the current document's formatting (using Step 3) and NOT make further changes to any newly created (i.e., template based) documents, just -

[a] open the Styles Editor again (Step 1); 
[b] clear (un-tick) the "Use as default" checkbox, THEN click OK.

That way, any new changes you might make in that Styles Editor will apply to the current document only; they won't be saved to the template and affect new documents.


In either of the above tips just clear that checkbox to tell WordPerfect not to save any changes made in that Styles Editor to the template. [Incidentally, you should not see the confirmation dialog (Step 4) when you simply clear the checkbox. It should only appear when you have made changes and enabled that checkbox.] Then click OK to exit from the Styles Editor.

☼  You might not need to use the method above.

Instead of using the above method you can, of course, simply change the formatting for just the current document directly, in the body text area of the document (usually at the top of the document's body text area). There is no need to use the Styles Editor to modify the initial style code for a single document – though it has the advantage of "hiding" your new formatting inside the initial style code. But you probably would want to use the method to set some defaults in the template for all new documents based on the template.

☼  Changes made this way can be superseded.

Changes made in the Styles Editor for the initial [Open Style: DocumentStyle] code can be discontinued or replaced (i.e., "over-ridden") with another, similar format code further down in the document itself. This is by design, and is the power of WordPerfect's "stream" formatting.

So if you make changes in the Styles Editor and they do not appear in the current document, use Reveal Codes to examine the main document for codes that might be over-riding the settings you made in the Styles Editor.

☼  Changes made this way can be ignored (a special case).

For arcane (and not well understood) reasons, if you start (i.e., create) a new WordPerfect document from Windows (e.g., by right-clicking on the Windows desktop or Windows Explorer and then selecting New, WordPerfect document) rather than from WordPerfect's File, New menu, it will create the new document based on a separate, relatively hidden file (e.g., named wordperfect.wpd in recent versions). This separate program file only acts like a template to "spawn" a new empty document: The [Open Style: DocumentStyle] code will be missing from it -- as will your new default document settings (though it should not impact that document). (For more see Footnote 4 one the Templates page.)

☼  Tips.

You can use Reveal Codes to

▸  carefully select an existing format code from the body text area of any open document (using a Shift+ArrowKey helps make an accurate selection in the Reveal Codes window),

▸  copy it to the Windows clipboard (Ctrl+C), and then

▸  paste it (Ctrl+V) into the Contents pane of the Styles Editor.


Back up the document -- and the template, if you are saving the change as a default setting -- before making advanced customizations like this one.

The change will affect the current document (and new blank documents, if you enable "Use as default").

This method is useful for some formatting that is difficult to create (or edit) from inside the Styles Editor. A common example of this is setting custom tabs. (See "Tab settings in WordPerfect" here.)

This method also "hides" the code to help keep it from being accidentally deleted or moved in the body text area of the document. Just remember this trick if you ever need to restore or modify the formatting controlled by that code! Further, if you need to change that code you might have to cut it from the Styles Editor, paste it into another document (e.g., a new blank document), edit the formatting there, then select and copy that code back into the original Styles Editor. For an example see Hide a [Delay] code.
Method 2

•  In Method 1 you saved your relatively simple changes to the default template. For moderate to extensive changes to that template you can edit it directly:

See this section on the templates page

•  If you don't want to change the default template, you can create one or more custom templates for special purposes:

If you need to set up a customized template without affecting the default template [which is used to create all your new blank (i.e., default) documents], see Custom templates.

Footnote 1

If the [Open Style: DocumentStyle] code is missing in Reveal Codes (at the very top of the document's body text area), it might be due to the way you opened the document. See the Footnote 4 on the Templates page.