Adjusting Navigation Pane Font Size

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated July 11, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


Mitchell writes long documents with headings and relies on the Navigation pane to keep his place, but the font is pretty small for his aging eyes. Mitchell believes the Document Map style is supposed to control the font, but changes to the style do not show up in the Navigation pane.

The Document Map style is an artifact from much earlier versions of Word. The Document Map was the precursor to the Navigation pane and was available up through Word 2007. It was removed from Word 2010 when the Navigation pane was removed. The Document Map style remained, however, and if you make changes to that style and open your document in Word 2003 or an older version, then the style's settings will affect what you see in the Document map.

What to do, then, with the Navigation pane? What you see there—or, more accurately, how you see what you see there—is controlled by Windows, not by Word. You can, if you desire, make changes in the Windows display settings (specifically those that control the fonts used in menus and ribbons), but that is beyond the scope of this tip. You could also try looking for third-party applications that allow you to adjust the size of different parts of your screen or to adjust font sizes of different screen elements.

Within Word itself, your best bet may be to abandon the Navigation pane and, instead, use Outline view. (This actually makes sense—if you cannot read what is in the Navigation pane, then it quickly becomes unusable anyway.) Outline view presents the same data on the screen as you would see in the Navigation pane (the document's headings), but you have greater control over the size and appearance of that data. Word makes it quite easy to switch between Outline view and whatever other view you would like.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13782) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 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 1 - 0?

2022-05-23 06:41:38


Hi there Allen

Thank you for your tips! I'm trying to dock the navigation pane -- I find it very convenient to work in documents with the navigation pane fixed at the left of the screen. I don't know how, but the navigation pane recently started floating and I can't work out how to redock it.

You have some pretty rude customers on your site, but I appreciate the wealth of info you've made available!


2020-11-14 09:37:40

Tony Mayo

I can't ignore the irony of this article being formatted ina tiny font so that those of us elders struggling to read the navigation pane can come here and squint to learn that it is not reparable.

2020-09-16 23:30:10


Worst advice article I have ever read. 300 words with no answers.

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