To Change the Font on Incoming Messages

Last reviewed on June 9, 2014   —  73 comments

Whether you can change the font on a message you have received depends on many factors:

  • the format of the incoming message
  • the version of Outlook
  • the type of mail server you connect to
  • whether you use Word as your e-mail editor (WordMail)

Below you’ll find instructions organized by the format of the incoming message, plus methods for WordMail and other approaches.

Instead of changing the font in messages, you can adjust the Zoom. See Adjusting Outlook’s Zoom setting for more information.

Plain Text | HTML | Rich Text | WordMail | More Information

Outlook 2007, 2010, 2013

In Outlook 2007, Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013, you can change the fonts used for reading plain text messages from the Stationery and Fonts dialog in Options.

Stationery and Fonts dialog
The middle two options, for New mail messages and Replies and Forwards, controls the default fonts used for HTML and RTF messages and apply only to messages you send.

The bottom setting on this dialog is the font used for plain text messages and replies. This font is used both in open messages and in the reading pane. It applies to both messages sent as plain text and HTML messages that you choose to read as plain text.

In Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013 this dialog is at File, Options, Mail. The Stationery and Fonts button is near the top of the Mail pane.

In Outlook 2007 and 2003, look at Tools, Options, Mail Format tab. The Stationery and Fonts button is near the middle of the dialog.

Plain Text

In Outlook 98/2000/2002/2003:

  1. Choose Tools | Options, and switch to the Mail Format tab.
  2. Make sure the Use Microsoft Word to edit e-mail messages box is not checked.
  3. Font options in Outlook 2003

  4. Click the Fonts button.
  5. On the Fonts dialog, make your selection with the Choose Font button under When composing and reading plain text.
  6. Set the plain text font in Outlook 2003

  7. Click OK until you return to the main Outlook window.

HTML

You cannot easily control the font used to read HTML messages, since most people who send HTML mail specify the font they want their messages to appear in. If you’re bothered by that, you can follow these steps to set a default font and make an HTML message use that font.

To set the default HTML font in Outlook 2007 and newer:

When a default font is not included in an HTML message, Outlook uses the default web font. You can change this in Word. Go to Options > Advanced > General > Web Options button > Fonts and select a different font. (Thanks, Rick!)

web fonts in outlook 2007 and up

To set the default HTML font in Outlook 2003 and older:

  1. In Internet Explorer, choose Tools | Internet Options.
  2. Click the Fonts button.
  3. On the Web page font list, select the font you want to use as your default.
  4. Click OK to return to Internet Explorer. Note that this change affects web pages, not just HTML mail messages.

To make a message use your default HTML font:

  1. Choose Edit | Edit Message.
  2. Choose Format | Plain Text, and respond Yes when you’re asked whether you really want to change the format.
  3. Choose Edit | Edit Message.
  4. Choose Format | HTML.

Rich Text

As with the HTML format, rich text format (RTF) messages arrive with the font already set by the sender. Unlike HTML, though, you can select text in a received RTF message and use Outlook’s formatting commands to change the way it looks. Choose View | Toolbars if you don’t see the Formatting toolbar on a received message.

WordMail

If you have set Word as your mail editor in Tools | Options | Mail Format, a message you received will open in WordMail

  • if it is in RTF format, or
  • if it is in plain text format and you are either using Outlook 97 or, for other versions, your default format on Tools | Options | Mail Format is Microsoft Outlook Rich Text.

As noted above, you can’t automatically change the format of RTF messages.

You can, however, control the default font used in WordMail for plain text messages. This is the font for the Normal style in the Word .dot template that Outlook uses for WordMail. For Outlook 2000, the template is always Email.dot, while Outlook 2002 and Outlook 2003 use Word’s normal.dot, not a special email template. The default location for the U.S. English version of Outlook is in the C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\1033 folder. You may find it easiest to locate it on your machine with the Start | Find command.

To change the Normal style to use a different font:

  1. Use File | Open to open the WordMail .dot template directly in Word.
  2. Choose Format | Style.
  3. Select the Normal style from the Styles list.
  4. Click Modify | Format | Font.
  5. On the Font dialog, select the font that you want to use.
  6. Click OK to return to the Modify Style dialog.
  7. Check the box for Add to template.
  8. Click OK, then Close to return to Word.
  9. Save and close the WordMail .dot file.

Notes

If the font appears very small when you open a message, check to see whether you’re using WordMail. If so, adjust the zoom setting to 100%. If that change doesn’t “stick” for new messages you open, modify the default WordMail template following the instructions in the MSKB article Zoom Percentage Too Small.

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlookforums.

73 responses to “To Change the Font on Incoming Messages”

  1. Cindy Lingel

    How do I make an incoming message appear larger than messages already opened?

  2. Vicki Gordon

    I DO NOT like this edition of Outlook. So sorry we purchased it, so sorry I liked the older versions and can no longer have them, and so sorry I thought I could find an answer here. What a waste of my time.

  3. Karen Leoncelli

    Can you help me with an Outlook 2010 issue? When I receive new mail, it arrives as unread, but as soon as the PC refreshes itself, all unread messages turn to read, and it's causing me no end of confusion. How do I stop this? I only want the unreads to turn to read once I've read them, not when the PC decides....

  4. Peggy Catoe

    Can I make a specific incoming email a unique color?

  5. Holly

    I am having the same problem. I need the steps to take to fix this. I am also using a smartphone and my company is going through Googlemail but I love Outlook and since we switched every email shows as read.

  6. H. LeBleu

    This is ridiculous! None of the information you supplied was available when I went to Mail Format. There was NO (Use Microsoft Word to edit email messsages) button. there was NO ( Font) button ! ! ! NOW WHAT ? ? ?

  7. bill larosa

    incoming e-mail font size in outlook 2007.
    cant change font size. its grayed out, help!!!

  8. Giovanna

    Excellent article. One of my teachers was receiving all plain text messages in WHITE font (and white backgroung) and because of that she couldn't read any of them. Thanks to your detailed explanation I was able to resolve it.

  9. DS WASHINGTON

    MY FONTS ARE TOO SMALL AND YOUR MICROSOFT WERE EVEN SMALLER; YOU EVEN REFUSED TO REPLY ABOUT ANY OF MY ISSUES. KNOW WONDER EVERYONE TOLD TO BUY A "MAC" OR "APPLE". YOU ARE WORTHLESS.

  10. Rick Diamant

    Diane,

    The problem I was having was after I changed my default fonts in the "Stationery and Fonts" settings. It worked most of the time, but when I received an HTML e-mail that didn't have any default font settings, Outlook would continue to use my old default font. Unfortunately, I changed my default setting for this specific situation somehow a long time ago and couldn't figure out the place to fix it.

    I found this page by Googling on "default font incoming html outlook email" and hoped you would have the answer based on your subject. Unfortunately, you only had the answer for Outlook 2003 and older and I'm using Outlook 2010. But it put me on the right path to finally find it again.

    Open Word and go to Options > Advanced > General (near bottom of page) > Web Options button > Fonts (far right tab).

    Hope this helps anyone else that has the same problem.

    Rick D.

    1. JT

      Thank you Rick D!!!!! The instructions were not accurate for 2010 Outlook. Your answer was perfect. I appreciate it greatly.

  11. mickeywhite

    1. I want to print my monthly calendar, but start with the middle of the current month, in the old outlook, we could display the calnedar, scroll it to say 06/17/2013 and it will print a full 6 weeks begining with 06/17 week. The new one always starts with the first day of the week.
    2. I want to beable to recieve TEXT email and reply back in HTML with my reply colors automatically, the old email had a button to do this, and now I am haveing to Highlight the whole email and change to html and change the font and color. ?

  12. Joanna

    Thank you very much for your help :)

  13. mickeywhite

    1. in outlook 10, where is 'print one month per page'. When I go to the print option and get ready to print the page the dates to and from are what a want, but it still prints the begining date of the month I am in.
    2. In the Old outlook, when I replied or forwarded the text email, I could click one button to change a email that was sent in Text to HTML.
    I do have HTML as my default and do want to receive emails (and send) in Text sometimes.

  14. mickeywhite

    Diane, WOW ! Thanks, these are what I want. Do you work for MicroSoft ou are you just a knowledgable helpful person in real life?

    Thanks Again!

  15. MIkolaj Rutkowski

    It works like a charm indeed! Thanks - I was looking for that for a long time. I tried to play with IE font settings but that was unsuccessful.

  16. Stirling I

    THANK YOU!!!! I just spent 2 hours going crazy over this.

  17. Frustrated

    What ever happened to manners? You are doing your best for a variety of situations and people don't always communicate their specifics which, at the very least, makes it challenging to help everyone. I'm sorry that people are so rude. If someone doesn't understand an answer, they should try contacting you again with more specifics or quietly go into that good night - soundlessly.

  18. Alan

    Hi Diane,

    In Outlook 2010, is it possible to open a sent message, do Ctrl-A to select all the text and then somehow change the font? I've a user who says they could do that before so that it used less pages when printing.

    I can't seem to modify the text of sent messages in Outlook 2010. I think it was possible in 2003.

    The user also mentioned that in the past they managed to add the entire Format Text tab menu to the Quick Access Toolbar. Not sure about that ...

    Thanks in advance for any tips ...

    - Alan.

  19. Karen

    Help please! I have Outlook 2010 but when I print my emails the From, Sent, To, Cc and Subject are so large it takes up so much paper. The rest of the email is fine. How do I stop this or change the font only in the header part? Hope you can help.
    Thanks
    Karen

  20. Neill Gibson

    Dianne you are simply the best. So many times when MS help is completely useless you come through with EXACTLY the answer I need. I think I'm in love... ;-)

  21. Josiah

    Agreed! Thank you Dianne.

  22. Jeff

    Is there a way of changing the font color on incoming messages in Outlook 2010? Most of my incoming messages come in blue and I want them black. When I go into the trust center and change the email security setting to read all standard mail in plain text, it changes the color to black, but double spaces everything. Is there a way of doing this without the double spacing?

  23. namit bhalla

    Hi.. I use Outlook 2013. I have made multiple Folders for ease of sorting. Whenever a new email comes, it automatically goes in the specific folder, but there's no change in the Folder view in the pane. Can I make the number of Unread mails/Folder change colour, each time there are new mails in a folder.

  24. Doug

    Hi, The font in email I receive from a Mac is very small in my Windows Outlook 2007. Is there any way to adjust the font size for those, other than using a plain text setting for all incoming email?

  25. David Grainger

    Very helpful, I was trying to format emails that I have either replied to or forwarded but can't find the relevant field for the filter!

  26. manikumar

    Hi diane, actually we have some problem , when any incoming email that containing html pages that is showing as HTML tags in Outlook. why it is showing HTML Tags in outlook?
    Please could you help me to made any changes to display it as HTML

  27. j hunt

    Diane, I have a similar problem. Had been searching for quite some time before I stumbled across your blog. FYI, I use Outlook 2003 & Word 2003, both SP3 (yes, I will upgrade soon).

    Here is my situation. Some time back I made changes to customize either Word or Outlook (can’t remember the specific changes). Before those changes, the entire email printed out in Arial font. Now the email Header info (From, Sent, To, Cc, Subject, and “my name" at the very top) all prints in Times New Roman, while the Body of the message is still in Arial.

    When I go to File > PageSetup > DefinePrintStyles > MemoStyle > Edit, the Title Font shows as Arial 12 point, and the Fields Font is Arial 10 point. Yet when I print, the Header is still in Times New Roman.

    So what do I need to do to get the Header to also print using Arial font??

    Thoughts??

    Thanks :)
    John

  28. j hunt

    HP, Deskjet 9800 or Photosmart 8050, printer has no effect on the original incoming message header font output. But if I "Reply" & then print out the reply (before sending), the original incoming message header font seems fine... Your wordpress site is donotreply... If you send me a functional email address, I can send you PDFs showing the different font outputs, so that you can see exactly what I'm attempting to describe here with words.

  29. frankmaybe

    I found the following in the Microsoft Community (http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office/forum/officeversion_other-outlook/how-do-i-change-the-font-in-outlook-on-incoming/f8971ef2-b4f4-4e50-afe3-60afc9769472). It helped me more than my initial review of this page. After looking back at this page I realized Diane's very first section "Outlook 2007, 2010, 2013" had half of the solution. Below is the first half (steps 1 & 2). Steps 3-5 are essentially the same as Diane's above.

    Outlook 2010:

    1.Click File > Options > Trust Center (category) > Trust Center Settings... (button) > E-mail Security (category)
    2.Under 'Read as Plain Text', check the box next to 'Read all standard mail in plain text' > click OK once to return to Outlook Options.
    3.Click Mail (category) > Stationary and Fonts... (button).
    4.Under 'Composing and reading plain text messages', click Font... (button).
    5.Adjust the font size/settings as desired (how to you want to see new messages?) and click OK when done, then OK to exit the Signatures and Stationary window, and OK again to exit Outlook Options.

    Note - You will have to click off of whatever email you had selected while changing the settings, then click back on it to see the changes you've made.

    Sorry, Diane, for not looking close enough at the start. To be honest, the comments section got me all confused with other topics being addressed. Thanks for your help.

  30. Fabio Quintal

    Is there a way to set a default font when the received message contains a font that I don't have? For example, I have client who sends his messages in Comic San MS, but for some reason I don't have it in my version of Windows 7. It then displays the font as barcode...I usually have to forward the message to myself changing the font to something else I do have, so I can read the message properly...in fact, I don't actually forward it but once it's in edit mode I can change the font. I'm assuming Outlook uses this barcode font when it can't find the actual font. If so I would like it to default to something else like Arial.

  31. Fabio Quintal

    There were other fonts for their signature and a disclaimer but the only one that displayed as barcode was the Comic Sans MS. I had to verify as well for the rest of the name because outlook would only display Comic Sans and the the actual name has "MS" at the end. I checked by copying and pasting to Word and word displayed it as barcode as well but it display the whole font name. I checked my default font and it appears to be "Courier New". I ended up grabbing the Comic Sans font MS from my old XP machine. I restarted Outlook and no more barcode! So it's working but what happens when the next person send me another font I don't have...I'm hoping it won't display as barcode but I'm not so sure.

  32. Fabio Quintal

    Yeah, I thought the Comic Sans MS font was part of Windows...I guess somehow it got deleted on my current install somehow. All the stuff on the registry looks fine...it lists the comic sans as "Comic Sans MS.ttf" in the FONTS key. It hasn't happened again since copied it from another PC. I guess I'm going to call it solved for now.

  33. wmsrandy

    This is very helpful Diane - who would have thought to go to MS Word to change the font settings. I made the change and expect that it will work. I see a complaint about the new Outlook. While many Microsoft changes take some learning and a little time to become a habit, and Microsoft occasionally makes snafus and corrects them later, I believe Microsoft's biggest challenge is a user community that is change averse. I like Microsoft's advances, including Windows 8.1, Office 365, OneDrive, OneNote +++.

  34. Nancy Valentine

    Diane, I would like to know if you can change the fonts in an incoming message that is not plain text? One of my clients does not see well and ask me this. I cannot find a way. Any advice?

  35. Nancy

    I did try this but realized it affected all messages and the messages with URLs and Hyperlinks were being adversly affected. I had the client to act as if they were forwarding the message and select the text and enlarge so it could be read. This can be done on a case basis and not affect the entire mailbox.

    Thanks

  36. Nancy

    I think this will work better. I'll give it a whirl - thanks

  37. Irina

    Hi, I really need your help right now. My original outlook layout changed, I must of pressed the wrong button. Now I can only see the emails that are arriving in a long thin strip. I need them to be in an original format so I can see them on the right side open and can read as I go. Please help! Irina

  38. Leo

    Win XP Word 2003 ... Win 7 Word 2010

    • Whenever I click to open a TXT file, it opens in Courier -- the most uncomfortable font for screen reading! Hence, spelled out procedure to change the Windows Courier default-font for display of the plain text files, would be much appreciated.

  39. Salman

    Hi Diane Poremsky-
    Text of Some of (not all) my incoming emails show as right alligned. When i reply to such emails, the reply text also is right aligned by default. Its showing terrible layout.
    I am using MS outlook 2013

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