Changing Word 2010 and 2013 Default Formats: Fonts, Paragraphs Styles, Page Setup, and More

It can be annoying to make the same formatting changes over and over again. If you find you’re constantly changing fonts, paragraph styles and the page setup, you’ll be happy to know that a surprising number of these parameters that can be made default in Microsoft Word 2010 and 2013, as well as some of the other Office 2010 applications.

Changing Default Fonts in Word 2010 and Word 2013

  1. Choose HOME, then [Click]  at the bottom right in the FONT group, or press <Ctrl-D>, or press <Ctrl-Shift-F>.
  2. Select the font, the point size, and any attributes that you want.
  3. [Click] SET AS DEFAULT.
  4. To apply this default font to just this document, select THIS DOCUMENT ONLY? Or, to apply this default font to all new documents based on the the template your document is using – usually the standard template also known as “Normal.dotm” select ALL DOCUMENTS BASED ON THE NORMAL.DOTM TEMPLATE?
  5. [Click] OK.

Changing Default Paragraph Styles in Word 2010 and Word 2013

The default paragraph spacing in Microsoft Word 2010 is a full 12pt space after each paragraph and in Word 2013 it is 8pt space. In other words, this forces extra space after each paragraph. While this might be proper typography, you may want more control on this and other paragraph settings.

To start a new line without adding the extra space between the paragraphs, you can press <Shift-Enter>. But you’ll find that the paragraph menu gives you more power over your paragraphs.

To change the default paragraph style and spacing:

  1. Choose HOME, then [Click]  at the bottom right in the PARAGRAPH group.
  2. Set your desired paragraph spacing as well as other options such as alignment and indentation.
  3. [Click] SET AS DEFAULT.
  4. To apply this default font to just this document, select THIS DOCUMENT ONLY? Or, to apply this default font to all new documents based on the the template your document is using – usually the standard template also known as “Normal.dotm” select ALL DOCUMENTS BASED ON THE NORMAL.DOTM TEMPLATE?
  5. [Click] OK.

Changing the Default Page Setup

  1. Choose PAGE LAYOUT, then [Click]  at the bottom right in the PAGE SETUP group.
  2. Here you can change the page margins, the page orientation, and other options.
  3. [Click] SET AS DEFAULT.
  4. With font and paragraph styles, you can apply the default font only to the document that’s open. That’s not an option with default page setup. When you change the default page setup, changes will apply to all new documents based on the NORMAL template.
  5. [Click] OK.

Other Microsoft Office Defaults You Can Change

You don’t have to limit yourself to changing default parameters in Microsoft Word 2010 and 2013 – other Office 2010 applications allow you to set defaults.

You can change the default chart in Excel 2010 - Or for Excel 2013 it’s hidden, check out this video on changing the default chart in Excel 2013. You can change the default font and text color for email messages sent in Outlook 2010 (same steps for Outlook 2013). And you can turn the snap-to-grid and snap-to-object options on or off by default in Powerpoint 2010 and Word 2010 and look here for the snap-to defaults for PowerPoint 2013 and Word 2013.

Changing Office’s default options is a great time saving step once you realize what fonts, styles and formats you use most often.

Have you changed Word’s defaults to make work easier? Please let us know in the comments!

Want to know more time-saving Microsoft Office 2010 & 2013 tips? Check out our Quick Reference Cards covering Microsoft Office 2010 and Office 2013 from the basics to more advanced topics.

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14 thoughts on “Changing Word 2010 and 2013 Default Formats: Fonts, Paragraphs Styles, Page Setup, and More

  1. How do I save a Picture Tools/Format/Picture Effects/Preset in Word 2010? I want to be able to somehow default the shadow etc. to all graphics in a document. Preferable without needing to run a macro…

  2. Hello Francoise, thank you for the question!

    That’s actually a bit of a brain scratcher. There isn’t an obvious way to set the starting style. You could just change the “normal” style to match “no spacing” using the instructions in the post.

    However, there is indeed a way if you want to change the default style – edit the actual normal.dotm file that Word uses for new blank documents.

    Just open the normal.dotm template. This can be in different places on your computer – on Windows 8 (and I believe 7), you’ll find it here: C:\Users\<>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates

    (Note: Make sure you [Right Click] and choose open – [Double Clicking] a template file will just open a new document based on the template – not what you want here.

  3. Hi Michael, excellent question! Also, one with no obvious answer.

    Here’s briefly what you could do:
    1) Create a Picture Content Control using the Developer ribbon.
    2) Set whatever effects you would like the default to be.
    3) Switch to design mode, then highlight the Picture Content Control you inserted.
    4) Now add the control to your Quick Parts gallery (INSERT, QUICK PARTS > ADD SELECTION TO QUICK PARTS GALLERY).
    5) Give the Quick Part a name such as pic1
    6) Now, whenever you want to insert a picture with your effects, just insert the Quick Part. You can even do this quickly by type the name and pressing . e.g.: pic1

    Not quite default styling for an image – but perhaps even better! :)

  4. How do I change the default styles (e.g heading1, heading 2, etc.) so that they show up everytime i open a word document?

  5. Hello GC, here you go:
    1. [Right Click] on the style.
    2. Choose MODIFY. Make the necessary changes.
    3. Select NEW DOCUMENTS BASED ON THIS TEMPLATE. [Click] OK.

    This changes the template your document is based on. To make these changes affect new blank documents, sure to make them while you have a new blank document open.

    For more about styles in Word 2010, see our handy-dandy Advanced Word Quick Reference card

    Hope that helps! ^brent

  6. How do I eliminate the automatic formatting so I can just type wihtout interruptions or bullets appearing? on said:

    I am typing a book and I don’t want interruptions when I make a list, or another list under a list. I don’t want any automatic formatting.

  7. In Word 2010 or 2013, you can turn off Automatic Formatting as follow:
    1. Choose FILE, OPTIONS.
    2. Click PROOFING on the left, then click the AUTOCORRECT OPTIONS button.
    3. Uncheck options for lists on the AutoFormat as you Type tab (specifically AUTOMATIC BULLETED LISTS and AUTOMATIC NUMBERED LISTS). You may wish to uncheck options on other tabs as well, such as the AutoFormat, AutoCorrect, and Actions tabs.

  8. I used to be able to choose a paper type like plain, colored, letterhead, etc but now I can’t find that option in Word 2013 only tray options and my printer isn’t excepting that direction, how to I select letterhead now?

  9. Hello Sarah,

    Thank you for your comment.

    Doing some research it appears that the paper type isn’t something available in Word’s page setup going back to at least Word 2002. As you mentioned it seems only to allow selecting the tray option and people then use a consistent tray for letterhead, and other consistent trays for other paper types.

  10. Dear Helper,
    In my Office 365 based Powerpoint 2013, the little arrow at the bottom right in the FONT group is greyed-out if I don’t select a (text) box and , or do not make anything happen.
    If I select a textbox, the little arrow, as well as pop-up a window with specific Font settings, but only with tabs Font and Character Spacing, none with Set as Default.
    What do I miss?
    Christiaan

  11. Hi Christiann,
    Thank you for your comment. I’m sorry for the delay in this reply. It doesn’t work the same in PowerPoint. This blog post is about setting the default Font in Word. In PowerPoint the font selection that you see in a brand new slide comes from what is set in the Slide Master. So if you want to change what the font comes up as for new slides in a presentation, go to the slide master (VIEW, SLIDE MASTER), then click where it says “Click to Edit Master Title Style” or “Click to edit Master text styles” and change the font there.
    Best wishes,
    Beezix

  12. This request for assistance is related to a version of MS- word 2013 using a right to left language and a left to right language. Although I’m typing a document that consists of numbered paragraphs in the left to right language, I cannot change the font of the numbers (in the numbering) to a font that is used only for the left to right language. Is there a way to change the font?

  13. Hello Danny,

    Can you try this and let us know how you do:
    1. Choose HOME, then the down-arrow of the numbered list command.
    2. Select DEFINE NEW NUMBER FORMAT.
    3. [Click] FONT.

    Now – in terms of making this new number format/font the default… That will be the subject of a future blog post :)

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