If you mean the font on the pages themselves, there is absolutely no default. Each PDF lists a specific font to use.
If you mean the font in the windows, dialogs, buttons, controls, this is provided by the system and can't be changed.
I am talking about when I view a PDF on my screen.
I understand it's when you view a PDF on screen. One of my answers applies, I think.
I am experiencing the same issue ...
Adobe Acrobat DC (15.009.20079)
One document I am reading is set to Merriweather 9.8 - legibility makes this document hard to read. The font is very thin almost spidery
I wish I could send examples that would make it easier for you to see what I am seeing.
Is it a case that for every doc I want to change, that I need to edit and change the font to ... a default font that I like. A default font that I can set somewhere within Acrobat?
Yes, please post screen shots. Please do this by returning to the forum, clicking reply, then the CAMERA icon. You cannot email them.
Changing font in an existing document is not really viable, or am I missing something.
Will do ...
I will say that viewing the pdf on a Mac is perfect. My Windows laptop is the issue - are we talking about a graphics card here are something similar? I will post images in a bit.
No point speculating until we see what you see. A screen shot showing it "good" would be useful too.
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Looking at your samples and the information you provided, I believe the situation is as follows:
(1) In both cases, the text is in fact being displayed with the same font based on the characteristics of various key glyphs.
(2) The text in the first sample looks thin and almost pixelated to some degree. There are at least three possible causes for this.
The first cause (and less likely) is that a particular preference setting in Acrobat is set wrong. Go to preference (Ctrl-K on Windows), go to the "Page Display" category and check what you have set for the value for "Smooth Text." If that is set to either "None" or "For Monitor," change it to "For Laptop/LCD screens" and press OK. Close Acrobat and restart and see if there is any improvement.
The second cause is difference in screen resolution. Many if not most new Macintosh systems are shipping with 4K or 5K HiDPI screens as opposed to Windows systems for which very few systems are shipping with anything beyond regular high definition screens and even then, many with much lower resolution (4K screens are starting to appear on new Windows notebooks and desktops this year, but at a significant premium in cost). The visual difference, especially for serif-based text can in fact be night and day. I personally saw this difference yesterday when upgrading a desktop Windows system from a 30" 2560x1600 pixel screen to a true 4K 32" 3840x2160 pixel screen. The difference in rendering of text at "text sizes" was night and day!
The third cause is a font that isn't properly "hinted" to provide optimized viewing at lower resolution. You mentioned that the font in question is Merriweather 9.8 (font name Merriweather at 9.8 pt?). This particular font, available as one of the "free" Google fonts, appears to be a lookalike font to Palatino. Many (but certainly not all) such free fonts are not highly tuned for optimal use on lower resolution devices (i.e., lacking sufficient or even any "hinting"), extensive kerning tables, etc. Ultimately, this issue is exacerbated by the "second cause" above. A commercial version of this font such as the original Palatino (ships with both MacOS and Windows) might yield a much better viewing experience. Alternately, most but not all sans-serif fonts such as Helvetica, Arial, Futura, Univers, etc. display better on lower resolution devices than serif fonts such as Times, Garamond, Palatino, etc.
Assuming that you can't regenerate the PDF file using a different font or using a larger point size (9.8 is fairly small) or if indeed your issue is the "second cause" above, there really isn't much you can do about it rather than magnifying the text on screen or upgrading your video card/screen combination to a significantly higher resolution.
But back to the original question (or what I think the original question is) ...
Per the original Correct Answer response above, text is always displayed based on the font specified when the PDF file is created. If the font is embedded in the PDF file, that font is directly used. If the font is not embedded in the PDF file, if that file is installed on the user's system, it uses that font; otherwise Acrobat/Reader uses a standard substitution font based on a series of built-in rules. In no case can a user direct Acrobat/Reader to globally display text with a different font. (Even if we wanted to be able to do that, the difference in glyph complements, font metrics, etc. would preclude that!)
1) Preference setting - nailed it - I set the preference it worked as expected.
Thank you for all your deep insight into fonts and resolution - impressive.
I don't know whether this would resolve Bud's initial question - but it did for me.
Kudos to you.