Customising the default template in the online version of Word

Brass Contributor

My organisation takes branding and house style seriously. We have a suite of Word templates that are deployed to all our users' PCs via group policy. This includes a customised 'Normal' template which has our house font, styles etc. The same template is deployed to MS Teams, so if staff create a new Word doc within Teams, it has the correct font.


It all falls apart in the online version of Word. We can't find a way of setting our house font for new docs created in Word for the web. We seem to be stuck with Calibri 11. As a result, our house style is being diluted, and becoming impossible to enforce. Surely there's a way of setting an org-wide cloud-based template? It seems like a fairly basic requirement.

4 Replies



Word online (the browser program) and for that matter any Word program other than the desktop applications do not really use templates, certainly not in the way that the desktop applications do.


You could, in one of the desktop applications, create a document formatted the way you want and save that on OneDrive. Then when you open it, immediately save as a copy and use that for your new document.


See Compare Word features on different platforms - Office Support.

  • These programs are all named Word and they are all created and published by Microsoft.
  • They all can edit the same document files that have the same file structure. Some of the programs have no control over some of the document structures.
  • But, they are different programs with different features and controls.


As of November, 2023, the most powerful one of these, with the most features, is the Windows desktop application from Microsoft 365. I do not expect that to change. The perpetual license version Word 2021 is very close as far as features but does not receive new features as added.


The Macintosh desktop application is second with number of features. The things available in the Windows version not yet on the Mac version include Content Controls, Building Blocks, UserForms, and ActiveX. It can use, but cannot create, or modify most Content Controls. AutoText is a Building Block that the Mac can and does use.


The browser version of Word – Word Online – has a Transcribe feature that has recently been added to the Windows desktop version of Microsoft 365’s Word. It also has the ability to Export to PowerPoint (although not that usefully). Otherwise, the browser version has far fewer features and editing in it has been reported to mess up automatic numbering. Chromebooks use a version of this or of the Android mobile app. Differences between using a document in the browser and in the Word desktop application


The mobile applications (Android/IOS, etc.) vary somewhat but have far fewer features. I would use them for note taking and for quick viewing/printing, but not for editing. Especially not for editing long or complex documents. What you can do in the Microsoft 365 apps on mobile devices with a Microsoft 365 subscription


Note that the statements about capabilities and usefulness are my opinions, not anything from


Maybe the subject line of my post is too specific! I don't mind whether the solution is template-based or something else. I just think there should be a way for an organisation to control the font that's used when a user creates a new blank document in their employer's Word online environment. I can't find a way of doing so. I don't know if I'm missing something - maybe there is a way of doing it, and I'm hoping that somebody can point me in the right direction.

If it's not possible, this is a fundamental flaw. Organisations spend huge amounts of money creating, deploying and enforcing their branding and house style. Word online is a maverick, undermining all of that work.


No argument here.

I think naming these different programs "Word" is misleading.

They are good compatible programs but they are not the same.

This is part of the reason I say:

I would use it for note taking and for quick viewing/printing, but not for editing. Especially not for editing long or complex documents.
The versions feature of Dropbox and SharePoint can be useful, but problems with that have also been shown.

I suppose you could store your pattern documents on a hard-drive in read-only format and sync them to the cloud on a regular basis to ameliorate the situation. This would overwrite the changes.