Word 2013: Themes

Lesson 30: Themes



A theme is a set of colors, fonts, and effects that determines the overall look of your document. Themes are a great way to change the tone of your entire document quickly and easily

Optional: Download our practice document.


All documents in Word 2013 use a theme. In fact, you've already been using a theme, even if you didn't know it: the default Office theme. Every theme—including the Office theme—has its own theme elements:

  • Theme colors: There are 10 theme colors, along with darker and lighter variations, available from every Color menu.
    Screenshot of Word 2013Theme Colors
  • Theme fonts: There are two theme fonts available at the top of the Font menu under Theme Fonts.
    Screenshot of Word 2013Theme Fonts
  • Theme effects: These affect the preset shape styles. You can find shape styles on the Format tab whenever you select a shape or SmartArt graphic.
    Screenshot of Word 2013Theme Effects

Why use theme elements?

If you're using theme elements, you'll probably find that your document looks pretty good and that all of the colors work well together. But there's another great reason to use theme elements: When you switch to a different theme, all theme elements will update to reflect the new theme, allowing you to quickly change the look and feel of the entire document.

In the images below, you can compare the default Office theme and the Organic theme.

Screenshot of Word 2013Office Theme
Screenshot of Word 2013Organic Theme

Remember, the colors and fonts will only update if you're using theme fonts or theme colors. If you choose colors that are not theme colors or any fonts that are not theme fonts, your document will not change when you apply a new theme.

Screenshot of Word 2013Using a non-theme font

If you're using built-in styles, you may notice that the fonts for these styles change when you select a different theme. This is because all of the built-in styles are based on the theme fonts. If you don't want the styles to change, you'll need to create custom styles. Review our lesson on Styles to learn more.

To change the theme:

  1. From the Design tab, click the Themes command.
  2. Select the desired theme from the drop-down menu.
    Screenshot of Word 2013Selecting a theme
  3. The selected theme will appear.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013The applied theme

Customizing themes

Let's say you really like the fonts from one theme, but you'd like to experiment with different color schemes. Word allows you to mix and match the colors, fonts, and effects from different themes to create a unique look for your document. If it still doesn't look exactly right, you can customize the theme colors, fonts, and effects from the Design tab.

  • To change the theme colors, click the Colors command. A drop-down menu will appear. Select the desired colors or select Customize Colors... to customize each color individually.
    WordChoosing theme colors
  • To change the theme fonts, click the Fonts command. A drop-down menu will appear. Select the desired font or select Customize Fonts... to customize each font individually.
    Screenshot of Word 2013Choosing theme fonts
  • To change the theme effects, click the Effects command. A drop-down menu will appear. Select the desired effect from the menu.

    Screenshot of Word 2013Choosing theme effects

When choosing theme colors, try to find a part of your document that uses several colors to get an idea of how the colors will look together.

To save a theme:

Once you've found settings you like, you may want to save the theme so you can use it in other documents.

  1. From the Design tab, click the Themes command, then select Save Current Theme... from the drop-down menu.
    Screenshot of Word 2013Clicking Save Current Theme...
  2. The Save dialog box will appear. Type a name for your theme, then click Save.
    Screenshot of Word 2013Saving the theme
  3. The theme will be saved. You can apply it to any document by selecting it from the available themes.
    Screenshot of Word 2013Selecting the saved theme


  1. Open an existing Word document. If you want, you can use the practice document.
  2. Apply a theme.
  3. Modify the theme's colors, fonts, and effects, then save it.