How to improve the appearance of Microsoft Word 2016 on OS X

Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac is visually a mess. But there are some things you can do to improve it. Here’s how Microsoft Word now looks on my OS X after a few adjustments:


It’s a lot less cluttered than the stock standard view. To get Word looking more Apple-like I’ve changed the font and font size, changed the theme to ‘Classic’ and turned off some options. I’d love to hear what you’ve done to reduce the clutter.

  1. The first thing you should do is click on the “Word” menu, click on “Preferences”, find the setting called “Personalise” and change the office theme from “Colourful” to “Classic.”  This will change the top of the window to match every other OS X application on your computer. I’m not sure why Microsoft want to change the colour of their Windows but at least they give you the opportunity to turn this off.  Unfortunately the bottom of the window still stays blue as you can see in my screenshot above.  I have not found a way to change this.

    Set the Office theme to Classic.
  2. Reduce the clutter on the bottom Status bar by turning off the  functions that you don’t need.  This is quite simple you simply right-click on the status bar and select or deselect the options that you need. I have only left 3 options turned on –  word count,  proofreading  and zoom.

    De-clutter the status bar.
    De-clutter the status bar.
  3. Reset the default page margins to 2cm. Go to  “Format” then “Document”,  set your desired margins and then click ‘Default’  to make them apply to every new document that you create.
  4. Change the default font to something more visually appealing. The Microsoft Fonts are in my opinion quite ugly. I have set my default font to ‘Avenir Next’  but you can set your default font to whatever you want by going to  “Format”, “Font” and selecting the font that you want, the size that you want, and then clicking the “Default…”  button to make that front apply to all your new documents.
  5. Hide the “Ribbon.” Unfortunately you can’t customise the “Ribbon” in Word 2016.  It looks like Microsoft are trying to push people to move to the subscription Office 365 version.  In that version you can customise your ribbon but in the purchased version the setting to customise the ribbon has been removed. It looks a lot better if you disable the ribbon by clicking on view and de-selecting it.
  6. If you want you can drag the ‘Styles’ pane to the side to have more of a Pages feel like this:
Move the style pane
Here I have moved the style pane to the side to de-clutter my main working window.

It seems that by using 3rd party Word ‘Add-ins’ you could theoretically make any pane removable. There are lots of free panes to download but as of yet I haven’t found any simple text formatting panes that change the font and thus replace the functionality go the ribbon. Hopefully someone will think this is a good idea and make some!



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