Default Font for Comments

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 24, 2018)


Phyllis has been using the Comments tab (on the Review tab of the ribbon) to correct student papers for her class. She wonders if there is a way to change the default font style and size for the comments.

As with many other formatting-related issues in Word, you can control how your comments appear based on built-in styles. Change the way the style is defined, and you change how your comments appear.

To change how the text in your comments are formatted, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  2. 2 Click the small icon at the bottom-right of the Styles group. Word displays the Styles task pane.
  3. Click Options at the bottom of the pane. Excel displays the Style Pane Options dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Style Pane Options dialog box.

  5. Using the Select Styles to Show drop-down list, choose All Styles.
  6. Using the Select How List is Sorted drop-down list, choose Alphabetical.
  7. Click OK to close the Style Pane Options dialog box.
  8. Scroll through the list of styles until you see the Comment Text style.
  9. Hover the mouse pointer over the style name, and then click on the down-arrow that appears at the right side of the style name. A drop-down menu appears.
  10. Click on Modify. Word displays the Modify Style dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  11. Figure 2. The Modify Style dialog box for the Comment Text style.

  12. Using the controls in the dialog box, specify how you want your comment text to appear.
  13. Click on OK to close the Modify Style dialog box.

At this point, any comments in your document should reflect whatever formatting you specified in step 10.

There are, in reality, three different styles you may want to modify, following the same steps as just outlined. These styles control different elements of the comments:

  • Comment Reference. This style controls how the comment is referenced and numbered in the main body of the document. Comment references (and thus this style) are only used if you are viewing your document in Draft view.
  • Comment Subject. Since there is nothing called a "comment subject" that we could locate, you would think that this might change the font used to display the name of the person who inserted the comment. Nope; no change in that element. So, we can only conclude that this style is one not currently used in Word.
  • Comment Text. This is the body of the actual comment, as already noted earlier in this tip.

Some readers also reported that you could change the Balloon Text style and it would affect how comments are displayed. This may be true in some versions of Word, but it is not true in the latest versions—modifying the Balloon Text style has no effect on how your comments are displayed.

When all is said and done, the shortest answer to Phyllis' question is to change the Comment Text style to reflect how you want the comments to appear.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13590) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is three minus 2?

2019-08-13 16:18:22


Fantastic! Exactly what I was looking for. My comment bubbles are so much easier to read now. Thank you!

2018-12-05 12:57:35

Phyllis Owan

RE: Default Font for Comments (Nov. 24, 2018 issue)

Thank you for this information. It worked well for documents that I create. It does not, however, apply to documents created by someone else and sent to me for comment (grading school papers). Do you think there is a way to change this globally in the school's LAN, or would I have to go in and change each student's styles?

In normal work situations this would not be a problem, because you could zoom the text larger. In the school setting, because I want to have a paper trail and my students are more likely to look at a paper handed back than to check their email, I print the corrected student work with comments rather than electronically sending it back to students.

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