Font Face, Size, Color and Background Color

How to Make Changes in Gmail

Young woman using laptop
Atsushi Yamada/Taxi Japan/Getty Images

In Gmail, changing the font, size and background color of text is easy.

A love letter—in black?

Birthday greetings—so small?

The fine print—so large?

Clearly, we need colors and font sizes for writing emails in Gmail. How about throwing in custom fonts (some at least) and background colors for highlight, too?

Change Font Face, Size, Color and Background Color in Gmail

To use a custom font, change the font size or color, or add a highlighting background color when composing in Gmail:

  1. Highlight existing text to apply formatting or set it before typing.
  2. Click the Formatting options button in the toolbar at the message's bottom.
    1. The button shows a cursive, capital and underlined A.
  • Click the Font button to choose a custom font.
    • ​You can cycle through fonts using the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl-Shift-5 (Windows, Linux) and Command-Shift-5 (Mac) as well as Ctrl-Shift-6 (Windows, Linux) and Command-Shift-6 (Mac).
  • Use the Size button to pick a font size, from Small to Huge.
    • ​Youc an also use the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl-Shift-- (minus; Windows and Linux) and Command-Shift-- (Mac) for a smaller and Ctrl-Shift-+ (plus; Windows and Linux) and Command-Shift-+ (Mac) for a larger font size.
  • Click Text Color to select a font color under Text color.
  • Use Text Color to apply a background color to text under Background color.
    • ​Note that Gmail will apply the background color only to the highlighted text portion, not the entire email.
  • Use BI and U, respectively, to toggle bold face, italics and underlining for the highlighted text.
  • Use the Align button to change text orientation:
    • Select Align Left for standard left alignment; keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Shift-L (Windows, Linux) or Command-Shift-L (Mac).
    • Select Align Center to have text appear in the email's middle horizontally; keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Shift-E (Windows, Linux) or Command-Shift-E (Mac).
    • Select Align Right to make the highlighted text align with the email's right border; keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Shift-R (Windows, Linux) or Command-Shift-R (Mac).
  • Click Quote to indent the highlighted text portion with a bar to its left, like quoted text in an email.
    • If you have changed the alignment of the highlighted text, it will reset to left, but you can re-align the text after quoting.
    • You can only quote once, for one level of indentation with a bar.
    • To undo quoting, use the Indent Left button.
    • For quoting, you can use the Ctrl-Shift-9 (Windows, Linux) or Command-Shift-9 (Mac) keyboard shortcut.

Change the Default Formatting for New Emails in Gmail

If you prefer a particular text style, you can make it the default for new messages in Gmail.

(Updated April 2016, tested with Gmail in a desktop browser)