How to change the default font in Pages for Mac and iOS

It’s easy enough to figure out how to change a font while writing. But making that change permanent? That’s a different story.

13 inch macbook pro pages
Leif Johnson/IDG

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The default font for body text in Apple’s Pages word processing app is 11-point Helvetica Neue, but you can easily change it to something more interesting through the Format panel that’s usually visible to the right of your document.

Open another document, though, and you’ll be back to Helvetica. If you always want a Pages document with your font of choice ready to go, you’ll have to make a couple of changes that aren’t very obvious. Here’s how to make them on both your Mac and your iPhone.

How to change the default font for Pages on Mac

First, open your Pages app. After that:

  1. Click Pages on the menu bar.

  2. Select Preferences. (You can jump immediately to this step by pressing Command-comma.)

  3. The General tab will pop up. Not far from the top, you’ll see a box for Default Font that should be unchecked. Click on the box.

  4. Another menu will pop up with options for the Font Name and Font Size. Select your preferred font and font size and then press OK.

  5. You should now see your preferred default font listed under the (now) checked box.

  6. Press X in the upper left-hand corner to exit Preferences.

The next time you open a new document in Pages, this font will be the default.

default font pages Leif Johnson/IDG

This also works with fonts you download from other sites.

How to set the default font in Pages for iOS

The Pages apps for Mac and iOS may both sync through iCloud, but unfortunately they don’t share preferences like this one. So on your iPhone, you’ll have to go through similar steps once you have a new document open:

  1. Press the three dots for more options in the upper right-hand corner of the document.

  2. Scroll down and press Settings.

  3. Press Font for New Documents.

  4. Switch on the toggle beside Set Font and Size.

  5. Set your preferred font and size. Here, too, the default is 11-point Helvetica Neue.

  6. Press Done in the upper right-hand corner.

change default font size pages ios Leif Johnson/IDG

Unfortunately, iOS doesn’t allow you to have as much fun with non-standard fonts.

Note: If you composed a document with a non-system font on macOS, the font will show up as Helvetica when you open the same document in iOS.

If a document has such unsupported fonts, you’ll see an alert that says, “This document has missing fonts.” You don’t have to do anything, and it will go away after a few seconds. If you don’t tweak any of the font settings (even after making edits), the document will still be in the same font when you go back to your Mac.

If you would like to normalize the font on iOS, though, press the Show prompt that appears next to the alert.

It’ll then tell you which font is missing. In this new menu, you’ll see a prompt to Resolve Font Warnings. Press it, and a new window will pop up that tells you that “Resolving font warnings will permanently replace all missing fonts in this document with Helvetica.”

iphone 11 pro pages Leif Johnson/IDG

Pro tip: Resolve is in red because it’s not necessarily a good idea in this case. 

Press Resolve and the deed will be done. To be clear, if you follow this step, the document will be in Helvetica now if you open it again on your Mac.

I’d only do this if something is really off about the appearance of a document and you need to send it to someone from your iPhone before you can get back to your Mac.

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