Cannot Change Default Font in Microsoft Word

982350 Cannot Change Default Font in Microsoft Word

Changing the default font in Microsoft Word is usually a simple process – you just go to the Home tab, click the Font Dialog Box Launcher, choose the font you want, click “Set As Default”, and confirm setting it as the default for all documents based on the Normal template.

However, sometimes the default font setting doesn’t seem to “stick” no matter what you try. When this happens, it’s incredibly frustrating, but there are a few things you can try to troubleshoot the issue.

Check File Permissions

One common reason the default font won’t change is because of file permission issues. The Normal template file (Normal.dotm) may be set to read-only or otherwise restricted, preventing you from saving changes to it.

To check, go to File > Options > Save and see if there’s a note that changes to the Normal template aren’t being saved. If so, you likely need admin rights to modify file permissions. Contact your IT department for assistance.

Disable Problematic Add-ins

Add-ins can also sometimes interfere with setting the default font. To rule them out:

  1. Go to File > Options > Add-Ins
  2. For each add-in Type, click Go, uncheck suspect add-ins, and click OK
  3. Set the default font
  4. Re-enable add-ins one by one, setting default font each time, until you identify any problem add-in

Be sure to leave Document Inspector add-ins enabled.

Repair the Office Installation

Corrupted Office files can prevent setting and saving defaults. To repair:

  1. Close all Office apps
  2. Open Control Panel > Programs > Uninstall a Program
  3. Right-click your Office version and choose Repair
  4. After repair completes, restart computer and try setting default font again

Modify the Normal Template Manually

If all else fails, modify the font in the Normal style within the Normal.dotm template manually:

  1. Open the Normal template (File > Open > your Office Templates folder > Normal.dotm)
  2. Modify the Normal style’s font (and any other styles you want)
  3. Click Set Defaults and choose “New documents based on this template”
  4. File > Save, then close and reopen Word

The font for new blank documents should now match what you set.

Reset the Normal Template

Finally, if unwanted changes have been made to the Normal template, deleting, renaming, or moving it will allow Word to recreate it fresh on next launch. You can then set the default font without issues going forward.

Just be aware this resets ALL custom defaults, not just font.

Why Can’t I Change the Default Font in Word?

There are a few common reasons why changing the default font in Word can fail, including:

File Permissions Issues

As mentioned, restricted permissions on the Normal.dotm file prevent saving changes to it.

Problematic Add-ins

Add-ins that load into the Normal template can revert or override default font changes.

Corruption Problems

Corrupted Office installation files or the Normal template file itself may be to blame.

Normal Style Conflicts

Other styles based on Normal aren’t updating properly with font changes.

Template Conflicts

You may be modifying the wrong template file that isn’t applied by default.

By methodically checking each possibility using the troubleshooting steps outlined, you should be able to resolve why Word hates your font and refuses to cooperate!

Setting the Default Font in Word on Windows

When the default font option is working properly, setting it in Word on Windows is simple:

  1. Open any Word document
  2. Go to the Home tab and click the Font Dialog Box Launcher (small arrow)
  3. Select the desired default font and font size
  4. Click the Set As Default button
  5. Choose All Documents based on the Normal template
  6. Click OK to apply the change

The font you chose should now be applied to all new blank Word documents going forward.

You can verify by closing Word and opening a new blank document to check it’s now set to the font you expect.

Changing Default Font on Mac

To change the default font in Word for Mac:

  1. Open Word > Preferences
  2. Click Personal Settings at the top
  3. Select Fonts from the options on the left
  4. Choose your desired font under Font for new documents
  5. Close Preferences and open a new document

The font you set in Preferences will be applied.

Why You Might Be Forced into Times New Roman

Many users run into issues where no matter what default font gets chosen, everything seems to revert to Times New Roman after typing for a bit.

What’s happening here is a keyboard font synchronization function kicking in.

Within Word Preferences on Mac or Options on Windows, look for a “Match fonts based on keyboard language” setting and make sure it is unchecked.

This setting tries to dynamically change fonts to match the input language, often defaulting to Times New Roman unexpectedly.

Over to You!

And there you have it – a deep dive into why setting a default font can go haywire in Word and some of the best troubleshooting tips for resolving it.

As you can see, while frustrating, with a bit of tinkering it is possible to force Word to relinquish control of the font choice and use what you want by default instead.

Let us know if you have any other great tricks for locking in preferred fonts! We’d love to hear what has (or hasn’t) worked for you.