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Changing the Default Font

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Changing the Default Font.

When you create a new document, Word bases what that document looks like on certain defaults that it establishes. Where those defaults come from depends on the version of Word you are using. In Word 97 and Word 2000 all defaults were stored in the default template, which is Normal.dot. (More on default templates in a moment.)

In later versions of Word, more and more defaults have been moved away from templates and into the Windows Registry. The default font used by the program is no exception. In these later Word versions, there is no default template until you make enough changes to Word's defaults to warrant the creation of the template.

If you are using Word 2002 or Word 2003 you can change the default font used for new documents in this manner, assuming that Word has not yet created the default template (Normal.dot):

  1. Type a few letters into an empty document.
  2. Select the letters you just typed.
  3. Press Ctrl+D to display the Font dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Font dialog box.

  5. Use the controls in the dialog box to specify what you want as the default font.
  6. Click the Default button. (This is what updates the information in the Windows Registry.)
  7. If you are asked whether you want to change the default font, click Yes.
  8. Click OK.

If Word has already created the default template (again, Normal.dot) then the best way to change the default font is to make your change to the template itself. Follow these steps:

  1. Locate the file Normal.dot on your hard drive, and then open the file in Word. (The best way to find these is to use the search capabilities in Word.)
  2. Display the Styles or Styles and Formatting task pane, depending on your version of Word. (Choose Styles and Formatting from the Format menu.)
  3. Scroll through the list of styles until you can see the Normal style.
  4. Click the down arrow at the right of the style name and choose Modify. Word displays the Modify Style dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  5. Figure 2. The Modify Style dialog box.

  6. Click the Format button and choose Font. Word displays the Font dialog box.
  7. Use the controls in the dialog box to specify the font you want.
  8. Click on OK twice.
  9. Close the Styles and Formatting task pane.

If you are using an older version of Word (Word 2000 or Word 97) then you need to make your default change to the template itself by using these steps:

  1. Locate the file Normal.dot on your hard drive, and then open the file in Word. (The best way to find these is to use the search capabilities in Word.)
  2. Choose the Style option from the Format menu. Word displays the Style dialog box.
  3. Make sure that the Normal style is selected in the list of available Styles.
  4. Click on Modify. Word displays the Modify Style dialog box.
  5. Choose the Font option that is visible when you click on the Format button. Word displays the Font dialog box.
  6. Select the font settings you want to use by default.
  7. Click on OK twice.
  8. Click on Close.

You have now changed the default template. You should save the file and then close it. The changes will take effect with the next document you create.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1559) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Changing the Default Font.

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