Last reviewed on July 1, 2015   —  27 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

In 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.

Use Change styles to set the default Body font

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".


Comments

  1. LukeD says

    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.
    Thx

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Good idea. Let me check... I don't see it in the registry, so it must be in the normal email template, which could be pushed out to users in a log on script.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      If the commands are exposed in Word VBA object model, you can change it by referencing word. Otherwise you'll need use command bar id's or use sendkeys.

  2. James Ward says

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

    • Diane Poremsky says

      You can push out a new email template to users. If you go the macro route, you'd need to replace the OTM file that stores the macro, which would replace any macros users already have.

  3. Paul says

    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,
    Paul

  4. Rox says

    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

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Which version of outlook? If you select the text and the font says 11 but its huge, then the zoom is set. changing the zoom to 100% should change it for all. open one contact and look for the zoom button on the ribbon or hold ctrl and roll the mouse wheel when the cursor is in the notes field.

  5. Anthony says

    Hi Diane, did you ever find out if you can propogate this to multiple users? I can't work out which file the +Body style gets added to, so I don't know which file to share.
    Thanks

  6. Beverly Hall says

    Diane...When trying to reset my default font in my Contacts, it will not let me. It is grayed out. I can't expand the Styles box either. If I use Stationary/Fonts it just changes on new emails. I use Outlook 2007. I also can't get my new email messages to auto complete/give choices when sending new emails. I have to go through the address book. It used to work now I have to search for it.

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      Do you have the entire Office 2007 suite installed or just Outlook 2007? Some features don't work correctly if you don't have the full suite.

  7. Beverly Hall says

    Good morning Diane. I do have the entire suite. I used to use Outlook 2010 but when I got a new computer, our guy didn't have 2010 so I'm stuck with 2007. If i could remember how to install 2010 I'd do it again.

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      You'd need a cd to install Office 2010... I'll try to repro it on an office 2007 box.

  8. Beverly Hall says

    Actually 2010 was offered by Comcast so it didn't require a disk but I did have to backup some files and I've forgotten how to do all of it. Just hate really tiny fonts.

  9. John Batts says

    I routinely receive email messages from Asian countries, and often this causes a subtle change in the body formatting. What happens is that, as I type my words, if a word is too long to fit on a line, rather than defaulting to hyphenating the word or moving it to the next line, Outlook will just continue the word on the next line. If I go up to Change Styles, Style Set, Reset to Quick Styles from Template, the situation corrects itself and the words appear as expected in the body.

    I tried to do what is described above, saving the default +Body text style, but that didn't correct the issue. I still had to go through the formatting steps referenced above. Is there any way that the "Quick Style from Template" can simply be the default and Outlook never assume that I want my English response formatted as if I was typing Asian characters?

    :)

    Thank you,
    --John Batts

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      no, sorry. It uses some of the settings of the original message - it's usually worse if the sender used stationery.

  10. Joseph Cralle says

    Re: Outlook 2007

    Tools | Options | Mail format | Stationery and Fonts: changes do not "stick."

    Similarly (related?), in a new message: Format Text | Styles: is greyed out.

    Help, please?

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      Styles would be grayed out if the message is plain text. That shouldn't prevent the changes to the settings from sticking though.

      What type of email account are you using? Do you have the entire office 2007 suite or are you using different versions of outlook and word?

    • Joseph Cralle says

      Ah ha. Could that be it? I'm using Outlook 2007 and Word 2003. (I've tested updated Word versions and see no benefit: merely changing interface and adding useless ribbon toolbars confuses rather than enhances functionality.)

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      Yes, you need the same version of Outlook and Word. Try this: copy winword.exe to the folder where outlook.exe is. It doesn't actually have to be the real winword.exe - you just need a file called winword.exe to trick outlook. This will bring back most of the missing features.

  11. Todd says

    Hello, when I change the font for replying and forwarding messages in Outlook 2010, the new setting stays until I exit Outlook or re-boot my computer. Then it reverts back to the Arial 10 Default Font. Is there a way to get it to stay with what I change it to all the time?

    I use Outlook 2010.

    Thank you,

    Todd

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      I'm assuming there aren't updates waiting to be installed, as they would be installed when you reboot... I have noticed that changes to outlook options don't often stick if there are updates waiting to be installed - windows apparently makes a copy of the registry when it downloads updates and uses that when it installs them on reboot. Once i figured that out i started restarting outlook as soon as i made a change. If updated were waiting, I rebooted first.

  12. Joseph Cralle says

    Done and Wow! That seems to do it. Thanks, Diane. Am I the only person still using Office 2003? Crisp & clean: who needs ribbons?

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      I haven't seen any stats on usage, but people on 2003 are slowly migrating to 2013 as they get new computers. My best guess is it's split around 40% each for the two newest with 2013 higher than 2010, around 15% for 2007 and slowly dwindling numbers for 2003. There are still people using 2000... so 2003 won't be going away completely any time soon.

      Safe mode worked? If you have addins, it could be one of them, otherwise it's one of the support files in one of the two Microsoft\Outlook folders under the user account. What OS are you using?

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