How to Change Microsoft Word to Light Mode or Dark Mode

Dark Mode

Learn how to personalize the theme and background of MS Word (Office apps) as well as how to switch between the ‘Light’ and ‘Dark’ modes.

Users with normal vision may like to use their computer in light mode, whereas some users, especially people with contract problems may prefer dark mode. Also, it is better to work with the light mode in bright light conditions and dark mode at the night or in dark environments.

Now, Microsoft Office allows you to easily switch between dark, light, colorful, dark grey, and system themes. This feature is mostly available to Microsoft Office 365, Office 2019, and Office 2016. However, Office’s dark grey, colorful, and system themes are only available to Microsoft 365 version. Also, if you have Microsoft 365, you can use the new dark mode feature for your Office apps.

When you use the new black theme (dark mode) for the Word, it will not only change the theme of the toolbar and Ribbon but also the writing canvas of the Word document. The background and theme you apply in one Office app (e.g. Word) will change the theme and background of all the apps in the Office suite to provide a unified experience.

In this tutorial, we will show you how to personalize the theme and background of MS Word (Office apps), and change the Word to ‘light’ or ‘dark’ mode.

Change Word to Light Mode (applies to All Office Apps)

Most of the computer interfaces and software uses light theme/mode for displaying content because this mode resembles the look of ink on paper, making texts more readable than other themes.

Light Mode, also known as Positive contrast polarity, is the classic black text on white background. If you have normal vision or are in a bright environment, this mode helps you digest information much easier. In the light background, there’ll be more light, hence pupils don’t need to dilate more to let in more light, which makes it easy for your eyes to comprehend the information.

By default, the Office apps (including Word) are set to ‘use system settings’ (Windows theme) or ‘Colorful’, but you can change the look and feel of all your Office programs by changing the Office Theme or background. As we mentioned before, when you change the theme of one of the Office apps, it automatically carries your Office themes across the suite to all apps. To change the Microsoft Word theme to the ‘White’ theme (light mode), follow these steps:

Switch to Light Mode from Account Settings

First, open the Microsoft Word application (or Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook), then click the ‘File’ menu at the top left corner of the program.

In the Word Backstage view, select ‘Account’ on the left panel.

On the Account page, click or tap the ‘Office Theme’ drop-down list and choose the theme you want: Black, Dark Gray, Colorful, or White. Since we want light mode, we’re selecting the ‘White’ theme here.

As you can see, the title bar, ribbon, canvas, borders, everything is in white now (light mode).

To be honest, the difference between the white theme and the default ‘Colorful’ theme is subtle. In the ‘Colorful’ theme, the title bar would be in blue and the ribbon and the window would be in light-grey (nearly white) color. On the ‘White’ theme everything would be in White color.

The real difference in the appearance of the app is when you change the theme to ‘Dark Grey’ and ‘Black’ (Dark Mode).

Switch to Light Mode from Word Options Screen

Open Microsoft Word, then click the ‘File’ menu in the Ribbon. Then, select ‘Options’ at the bottom of the left panel in the backstage view.

The Word Options window will appear. There, make sure the ‘General’ tab is selected in the left pane and look for the ‘Personalize your copy of Microsoft Office’ section on the right.

Under the ‘Personalize your copy of Microsoft Office’ section, click the drop-down menu next to the ‘Office Theme’ and choose ‘White’ for light mode. Then, click ‘OK’ to apply.

Try the Dark Grey Theme too

Let’s see how the ‘Dark Grey’ theme looks on Word. To do that, follow the same above instructions and choose the ‘Dark Grey’ theme from the ‘Office Theme’ drop-down.

This is how the Word looks in the Dark Grey theme.

How to Change Microsoft Word Background (applies to all Office apps)

Microsoft Office apps also allow you to change the background of your apps. There are several backgrounds pattern you can choose from like clouds, spring, underwater, and more.

To change the background, open Microsoft Word and click the ‘File’ menu. Next, click ‘Options’ from the left sidebar and select the ‘General’ tab. Then, choose a background pattern from the ‘Office Background’ drop-down list under the ‘Personalize your copy of Microsoft Office’ section.

How to Enable Dark Mode in Word

If you’re a night owl who tends to stay up until late at night, working on your Word documents, MS Word can strain your eyes and damage your retinas with its bright white coloring. To address this issue, Microsoft Office introduced a new black theme (dark mode).

For people with cataracts and related disorders or people who work in low light environments, the dark mode can reduce eye strain and accommodate light sensitivity. In the dark mode, you will read and write white texts on a dark background which makes it more stylish and appealing than the light mode. Also, Dark mode helps you reduces battery usage especially if you’re using an OLED screen.

The dark mode was also available in the previous version but it only changes the theme of the ribbon and toolbars, while the writing canvas stays bright white. But with the new Dark Mode, the dark theme includes the document canvas as well. Unfortunately, this full black theme is only available in Microsoft 365.

To turn on Dark Mode in the Word, Open Microsoft Word (or any other Office app) and click the ‘File’ menu in the ribbon. Then, click ‘Account’ in the sidebar.

On the right, change the dropdown below Office Theme to ‘Black’.

Alternatively, you can click the ‘Options’ in the backstage view. Then, choose the ‘Black’ theme from the drop-down menu next to the ‘Office Theme’ under the ‘Personalize your copy of Microsoft Office’ section in the Word options. Then, click ‘OK’ to apply

Now, Microsoft Word (and other Office apps) will automatically run in a dark mode as shown below. As you can see, the toolbar, ribbon as well as canvas are in full black color, and colors (texts) within your document will automatically adjust to accommodate the new color contrast.

Quickly Switch Between Dark and Light Modes

Once you applied the Black theme, you can easily switch between the black and white page background colors without having to switch the theme. This is helpful if some of the contents of documents are not displayed correctly in the Black theme. Here’s how you do that:

After the black theme is selected, go to the ‘View’ tab in Word Ribbon, you’ll see a new button – ‘Switch Modes’ in the ‘Dark mode’ section. Click/Toggle the ‘Switch Modes’ (sun icon) to change the background page color to white.

Doing this will change the editor back to a light mode (temporarily) while leaving the ribbon, background, title bar, and status bars black (as shown below).

To turn the editor back to black (dark mode), click the ‘Switch Modes’ button again (this time, it will be a moon icon).

How to Disable Dark Mode (But Keep the Black Theme)

You can also change the editor back to white canvas (permanently) while keeping the black theme of ribbon, background, and status bars. Here’s how:

Go to File > Options > General, then check the ‘Disable dark mode’ box (next to Office Theme drop-down) under the Personalize your copy of Microsoft Office section. 

This will always keep the editor page color white while maintaining the black theme.

That’s it.