How to Change the Default Formatting Settings in Google Docs

Use existing content as a template for changes to default settings

What to Know

  • Format the text how you like it, highlight the text, then go to Format > Paragraph styles > Normal text > Update "Normal text" to match.
  • Save your new default settings: Select Format > Paragraph styles > Options > Save as my default styles.
  • Reset to the Google Docs original styles: Select Format > Paragraph styles Options > Reset styles.

This article explains how to change the default settings in Google Docs for formatting. Instructions apply to the desktop version of Google Docs.

Changing Default Formatting in Google Docs

After you change the defaults, all documents you create thereafter will reflect these settings. You can still change the formatting of any individual element within a document, of course, but the default format provides a consistent starting point.

To change the default settings for Normal text in Google Docs, follow these steps:

  1. Open a document.

  2. Highlight the text you want to change.

    Highlighted text in Google Docs
  3. In the bar above the text, select the font, font size, paragraph spacing, text color, background color, or any other aspect you'd like to change.

  4. Select Format.

    Format button in Google Docs
  5. Select Paragraph styles.

  6. Click Normal text.

  7. Choose Update "Normal text" to match.

    Update Normal text to match option in Format menu in Google Docs
  8. Click Format.

  9. Click Paragraph styles > Options > Save as my default styles.

    Save as my default styles option in Format menu in Google Docs

You also can change the default format settings for other elements such as headings, titles, borders, and shading using the same process.

Instead of choosing Format > Paragraph styles, select the formatting option you'd like to set in place of paragraph styles. Update the style to match the selected text and save as your default styles, and these styles will be applied to every document you create from now on.

If you'd like to reset to Google Docs' original styles, select Format > Paragraph styles > Options > Reset styles.

Why Change the Default Formatting in Google Docs?

When you create a document in Google Docs, the default settings such as font style, line spacing, and background color are applied automatically to the document.

Changing any of these elements for part or all of your document on a case-by-case basis is easy enough—but if you consistently use the same settings across most or all of your Google docs, you can save yourself a lot of time and trouble by changing the default document settings.

The Format button in Google Docs
Lifewire / Marina Li
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