Last reviewed on September 2, 2012   —  32 Comments

All versions of Outlook allow you to change the font used for the text you insert when you reply to a message. (You can’t change the font in a plain text message, of course.) In Outlook 97 and Outlook 98, it is also relatively easy to change the way information from incoming messages is laid out in your replies.

When your font looks tiny, its usually caused by the zoom setting. See Adjusting Outlook’s Zoom Setting for more information.

In later versions, you are stuck with the default layout for replies; the only changes you can make are to the fonts that are used for the reply.

Outlook does not offer a way to always use your desired message format (plain text or HTML), however, you can use VBA to force Outlook to always use your format for replies. While we strongly discourage this practice (especially if you are converting plain text messages to HTML), you can do so using the code listed at Always reply using the same message format

Note: When email addresses and hyperlinks in your signature contains text similar to {HYPERLINK “” }, it means you have field codes visible. This is a Word feature and you can toggle between text and code by pressing Alt+F9.

A signature with field codes visible

Reply Font (no WordMail) | Reply Font (Word 2000) | Outlook 98 Reply Headers | More Information

Outlook 2007 and 2010

To change the fonts in Outlook 2010:
Go to File, Options, Mail, Stationery and Fonts.

In Outlook 2007, access this dialog through Tools, Options, Mail format dialog.

The plain text font setting is used for reading open messages and in the reading pane. The New messages and Replying or forwarding fonts are used for both HTML and RTF messages.

Outlook 2003

The fonts are changed in Tools, Options, Mail format tab, Fonts.

Reply Font (no WordMail)

Outlook 2000 and Outlook 98:

  • To set the font used in replies, choose Tools | Options | Mail Format, then click Fonts. This works only for the HTML and Rich-Text formats, not Plain Text.


Reply Font (Word 2000)

If you are using Outlook 2000 with Word 2000, with Word set as your e-mail editor, change the way replies look by following these steps:

  1. Start Word.
  2. Choose Tools | Options | General.
  3. Click E-mail Options.
  4. On the Personal Stationery tab, click the second Font button.

Outlook 2000 always uses as the WordMail template. You cannot set a different template as your default.

Outlook 98 Reply Headers

If you are not using WordMail and want to change the way that information from the incoming message is arranged in the reply, we have a wonderful solution provided by widget wizard Ben Goetter. This method does not work in Outlook 2000, because Microsoft removed this feature.

The key to Ben’s procedure is a group of files in the \Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\Headers folder (or its equivalent on your system). The Reply.usa file contains the template for replies, while Reply.rtf is a copy of that template. Here’s what to do:

    1. Make a backup copy of Reply.usa and Reply.rtf.
    2. Open Reply.rtf in WordPad (or Word).

  1. To change the font for the IMEP reply header and quote mark, change the font for the “—–Original Message—–” line.
  2. To change the font and layout of the regular Outlook reply, change the fonts and move around or remove fields as you see fit. I think they’re pretty self-explanatory. The fields in [] brackets use information from the incoming message. Be careful; it’s likely that changing them could affect the Outlook IMEP reply header as well.
  3. Use File | Save to save Reply.rtf.
  4. Use File | Save As to save it also as Reply.usa, making sure to keep it in RTF format.
  5. Close Word or WordPad.

These changes take effect the next time you reply to a message.

You might notice that the Headers folder also contains similar templates for forwarded messages, appointments, folder posts and tasks.


  1. Sue says

    Why do I get the following when forwarding messages or typing in websites in Outlook 2003? It did not used to happen.

    { HYPERLINK } with a long string of coding numbers and symbols along with the address

    What happens if I do tools - options - mail format - internet format, and switch to the Rich Text option instead of the HTML

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Those are Word fields. Press Alt+F9 to toggle their display off and on. No need to change the mail format.

    • Sue says

      thank you thank you thank you -- I was hoping it would be something easy. Please ignore the second request -- didn't know the first one sent.


  2. Kathy Nett says

    Why when I go to "reply" does the screen I'm looking at have print that is so small I can't read what I'm typing. The font size says it is 12 but I can't even read what it says. The ruler on the top of the page goes all the way to 22. I know this has something to do with it but I don't know how to go back to a normal size page! HELP!

  3. Cheryl says

    When replying to an email, my response appears on the bottom of the receiver's original email instead of at the top. So if there is a long list of emails back and forth among a group of us, when I respond, my response shows at the bottom of the long list (which requires recipients to scroll to bottom of many emails in order to see my response.) How can I fix this? Thanks.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      What version of Outlook do you use? That is not normal Outlook behavior. Outlook should always add the reply on top.

  4. Darren says

    Hi Diane, I've also experienced this problem with the replies being at the bottom of the email. I am using Outlook 2010

  5. Devina says

    Hi Diane, I'm using Outlook 2010. There are times when I hit reply on an e-mail, everything turn into text only. My signature jpeg icon doesn't show up properly & I can't change the color / size / attribute of the text. How do I change that? Please help! Thank you beforehand.

  6. Devina says

    Hi Diane, thank you for your response. Yes, the message I was replying to, was plain text. I did try your code, but it didn't work. Perhaps I did something incorrect in copy/pasting the sequence. But my boss ended up showing me, when I hit "reply" or "reply all", up at the "Format Text" tab, I could change the "Format" from "plain text" to "HTML". That seems to take care of my issue.

  7. Annette says

    Diane, I just discovered a way to format paragraph spacing on replies. I agree that it cannot be formatted in a template for replies, so I found the quick keystroke for adding space, ctrl 0. It's much easier than changing the paragraph format any other way that I can find.

  8. Lance D. says

    Outlook 2010, show signature on replies/forwards. If you already have a signature, or need to create one on new messages, go File/Options/Mail down to "Create or Modify Signatures" and click Signatures. In new window, you can design and save a new signature if need be, including "right click" paste insertion of a picture, etc. In the New Messages bar, the signature(s) that you have saved will show in the scroll down. The same will show in the Replies/forwards scroll down bar, so select the one you want to show, then OK or save your way out. Note, the font color that you have selected for reply /forward will transfer to the signature.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      To change your font go to File, Options, Stationary and Fonts, then change the font color for replying and forwarding to messages.

  9. Dietmar says

    I am using Outlook 2010 and like the "Pick a new color when replying or forwarding" feature very much except the golden color Outlook chooses after the thread has got a certain length. Is it possible to cutomize the sequence of colors Outlook uses when applying this feature?

  10. Dan Mazzeo says

    Diane - we have MS Outlook 2010 professional plus and I am trying to automate a different color for inserted text in the body of a message reply. I have not been able to find a way to do this. Do you have any instructions for this?
    Thank you,

    • Diane Poremsky says

      You mean something like the setting in Options, Stationery and Fonts where a different color is used for each reply in the thread? I don't believe it's configurable or manageable beyond those settings but will check.

  11. Brendan says

    Hi Diane
    I use standard paragraph spacing when composing a message so that it looks 'natural' on the page. However, I notice that when a respondent replies to my email, the paragraphing in the original message has changed to double spacing, which makes for lengthy and awkward-looking messages. How can I lock in the format so that the message I send looks the same as the one they receive? I.e. how can I set the paragraph spacing so that it doesn't alter during transmission? Thank you.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      This often happens when the recipient uses web-based email. Do you use 2 Enter's between paragraphs? That causes double spacing in web-mail. However, the double spacing should only be seen in the replies - it should be spaced normally in the original message. (It is here.)

    • Brendan says

      I use Microsoft Outlook (embedded as far as I know). I press 'enter' twice. This sets up normal-looking paragraphs in whatever email I am sending. It's only when the email is returned (as part of a reply) that the spacing has increased to something like triple or quadruple space.

  12. Bob Needham says

    Hi Diane,
    Is it possible to edit the subject line of reply e-mails so that when I select 'Reply' a used definable word is automatically included before the original subject matter (Outlook 2007)

  13. Marilyn Cameron says

    Why are some of the formatting buttons (such as bullets) "greyed out" when I reply to certain emails and how do I fix this? This is using Microsoft 2010.

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