Understanding Fonts and the +Body Style

Last reviewed on May 27, 2014   —  9 comments

We get two types of questions about font handling in Outlook:

How do I change the default fonts?
Why is Outlook using [some font] instead of the one I set as default?

Outlook 2007 and 2010 have two places where fonts are set: in Stationery and Fonts and in the Body style. Most people select a specific font in Stationery and Fonts without realizing that there are some features that use the Body style.

Changing the Font in Stationery and Fonts

Changing the default font is easy: go into Options, click the Stationery and Fonts button to open the Stationery dialog then pick a different font. The font for new mail messages is used when composing HTML email or typing notes in calendar, contacts, and tasks items. The font for composing and reading plain text messages is also used when 'read as plain text' is enabled. You can select a Theme (stationery) to use, if desired, but stationery may have font assignments which override the settings here.

Choose your fonts using the Stationery dialogSelect the default font for Outlook items

To change the fonts in Outlook 2010, you'll need to go to File, Options, Mail. The Stationery and Fonts button is near the top of the dialog. In Outlook 2007 and earlier, you'll go to Tools, Options, Mail format tab, Stationery and Fonts button.

These options won't change the font assigned to +Body style in Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2007 and this Body style is what causes most of the "font confusion" in Outlook.

The +Body Style

Is there any benefit to changing the body style instead of just assigning a new font in Stationery and Fonts?

Yes and No.

No, because while theoretically, changing the style should update all items using the generic body style, but I have yet to find any saved items that use the generic body style. You can change the style while composing and it changes font used in the entire message, but I see more questions from people who want to change the style in saved items.

Yes, because it eliminates a lot of confusion when Outlook uses an unexpected font. For example, when you use a signature, Outlook adds a line break at the very end of the message and it will always use the +Body style. The +Body style may also be used when inserting Quick Parts. It can also play a part in replies using an unexpected font.

Sample of default font and +Body font
Tip: When troubleshooting font issues, use different fonts for each element and choose fonts and font colors or sizes that will standout.

Changing the +Body Style

Use Change styles to set the default Body fontIn order to change the +Body style, you need to change the font used by the style.

From a new message form, switch to the Format text tab and expand the Change Style button. Choose your preferred fonts (and colors & spacing, if desired), creating a custom theme if necessary.

Note that Paragraph Spacing is not active unless the cursor is in the message body.

When you are finished with your selections, click on Set as Default to set this as your +Body style in all new messages, as well as in the notes field in Contacts, Calendar, and Tasks. (Outlook's colored "sticky" Notes have their own font settings.)

How to Change the Font or Body Style Video Tutorial

This video tutorial shows you two ways to change the font Outlook uses for new message, and Calendar, Contacts or Tasks notes. We also demonstrate one problem that is caused by selecting a font in Stationery and Fonts instead of changing the Body style: the font you set as default isn't a true "default font".

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.

9 responses to “Understanding Fonts and the +Body Style”

  1. LukeD

    Hi, do you by any chance know if and how these default +Body styles can be propagated to other domain users? Not the Stationery and Fonts setting but the ones under Format text -> Change style.

  2. Rahoel

    And how can this be done using VBA

  3. James Ward

    Handy to know, thank you. Is there a way to automate this across our organisation though?
    Thanks in advance,

  4. Paul

    Hello Diane and thank you very much for the description! I was able to change the default font of new signatures from Calibri to Arial. Unfortunately the changing of the default font _size_ doesn't work in the same way, doesn't it? Do you know a way to change the signature default font size?
    Best Regards,

  5. Rox

    hello I have notes on my contacts and for some reason though they say Arial 11, they are huge to view on my screen. I have to change each one to Arial 8 just to be able to read one word and still it looks like a font 36 on my screen. any idea of what this might be and how to change the appearance of the notes on over 500 contacts?
    Thank you very much

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