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Word formatting tools to make your text look fantastic

Jason Morrell

by Jason Morrell 
April 19, 2021

1.  Overview of the text formatting tools in Word

Once you have written your basic document you can spruce it up with a just few clicks.

The process for formatting text is:

1.  Select the text you want to format.

2.  Apply the formatting.

Most of the tools that you need to make your document look professional are on the Home ribbon. They are collected together into the Font group.

Here’s a quick breakdown and each of these will be covered in this post.

An overview of the text formatting tools in Word

2. Changing the font

The font is the name given to the text style - what the text looks like. Many newspapers and magazines use a font like Times New Roman for a formal look but there are other simpler fonts available like Calibri.

To change the font:

1.  Select the text you want to apply the font to.

2.  Single-left-click the Home tab.

3.  Single-left-click the Font drop-down list then single-left-click the font you want to use.

Select a new font from the Font dropdown box

A sample of some popular fonts are provided below.

Sample Calibri text
Sample Times New Roman Text
Sample Oswald Text
Sample Montserrat text

3. Changing the font size

To change the size of your selected text:

1.  Single-left-click the Home tab

2.  Click the Font Size drop-down list on the Font group.

3.  Choose a font size.

Change the font size using the dropdown list

You can also click one of the two 'A' icons, situated next to the font size drop down list.

Increase or decrease the text size

The first A increases the text size by one standard size.

The second A decreases the text size by one standard size.

4. Adding bold, italic or underline for emphasis

To apply emphasis to a word or phrase, bold and italic are the quickest techniques to use. Here is a comparison:

  • Regular text
  • Bold text
  • Italic text
  • Underlined text
  • Bold italic underlined text

There are 3 standard icons that you will find in every Microsoft Office program.

Bold italic underline
  • To bold a selection of text, click the B icon, or press Ctrl B on the keyboard..
  • To italicise a selection of text, click the I icon, or press Ctrl I on the keyboard..
  • To underline a selection of text, click the U icon, or press Ctrl U on the keyboard..

To change the underline style:

1.  Click the drop-down arrow next to the U icon.

2.  Select the underline type that you want – single, double, thick, dotted, dashed etc.

Change the underline type and underline colour

To change the underline colour:

3.  Click Underline Color (at the bottom of the menu).

4.  Choose a colour from the palette.

5. Changing the font colour

To change the colour of your text

1.  First, select the text that you want to change the colour for.

2.  Single-left-click the Home tab.

3.  Single-left-click the Font drop-down list in the Font group.

4.  Single-left-click a colour from the palette.

Change the colour of the text in Word


Paragraph formatting tools in Microsoft Word 

6. Striking through the text

Strikethrough puts a line through your text like this.

This is an example of text that has been struck through.

You can use this when you need to keep the text for historical reasons but clearly mark it as out of date, obsolete, no longer stocked of one of many other reasons.

To apply strikethrough to your text:

1.  Select the text.

2.  Single-left-click the Home tab.

3.  Single-left-click the Strikethrough icon in the Font group.

Strikethrough tool in Microsodt Word

7. Superscripting or subscripting text

Superscripted text is little text that sits above the baseline, e.g.  360o,  42  or  16th.

Subscripted text is little text that sits below the baseline, e.g. H2O,  CO2,  H2SO4.

Superscript and subscript icons

To apply superscript:

1.  Select the text.

2.  Single-left-click the Home tab.

3.  Single-left-click the Superscript icon in the Font group.

4.  The keyboard short cut is Ctrl Shift +.

To apply subscript:

1.  Select the text.

2.  Single-left-click the Home tab.

3.  Single-left-click the Subscript icon in the Font group.

4.  The keyboard short cut is Ctrl Shift =.

8. Changing the case

UPPER CASE WORDS stand out on a page. Some people describe it as SHOUTING. To change the case of your text:

1.  Single-left-click the Home tab.

2.  Click the Aa icon in the  Font group.

3.  Choose from Sentence case, lower case, UPPER CASE, Capitalise Each Word and tOGGLE cASE

Change the case of text in Word

Pressing Shift F3 cycles through the UPPERCASE, lowercase and Capitalise Each Word options. The other two options are not included in the cycle.

Here are what the different case options mean:

Sentence Case

Capitalise the first letter of the first word in the sentence.


Make all the selected text lower case (i.e. un-capitalise everything).


CAPITALISE all selected text.

Capitalise Each Word

Capitalise the first letter of EVERY word.


Convert UPPER CASE letters to lower case and convert lower case letters to UPPER CASE.

The Toggle Case feature seems like an odd one and under normal circumstances you would never use it.

However, back in the day (gee, I sound old) guys like me who look at their keyboard as they type and only look up once every 30 minutes used to curse loudly when we found our CAPS LOCK had been on the whole time!

You may still stumble across an old legacy document where the case is all screwed up. If you do, you canquickly fix it with Toggle Case.

Fast forward to today.

Microsoft Word detects when the CAPS LOCK is on. After typing something in reverse case, as soon as you press space or ENTER, Word corrects the incorrect case and turns the CAPS LOCK off. Whatever you type next is in correct case.

10. Highlighting text

Just as you would take a highlighter pen to highlight certain portions of text in a book or report, you can add highlight to any section of text in Microsoft Word. Highlighting attracts attention.

Perhaps you have prepared a document for somebody and need to point out the important sections.

Perhaps you are reviewing somebody else’s work (or even your own) and want to mark sections to revisit later.

There are 2 ways to use the highlighter tool.

Method 1 (for a one-off highlight):

1.  Select the text you want to highlight.

2.  Single-left-click the Home tab.

3.  Click the ab Highlight icon in the Font group (to use default yellow).

4.  If you want to choose your own highlight colour, click the drop-down arrow on the icon, then choose one of the highlight colours in the palette. Stick with the lighter colours.

Highlight text in Word

Method 2 (for multiple highlights)

1.  Single-left-click the Home tab.

2.  Double-left-click the ab Highlight icon in the Font group.

3.  The regular mouse pointer will change to a highlighter icon.

4.  Select the first portion of text that you wish to highlight. The highlight is added but the highlighter tool is still active.

5.  Select as many other portions of text as you want.

6.  When you are done, press Escape or single-left-click the  the ab Highlight icon again

An exaple of highlighted text in Word

Reset highlighted text

1.  Select the highlighted text.

2.  Single-left-click the Home tab.

3.  Click the drop-down arrow on the ab Highlight icon in the Font group and choose No Color.

11. Creating a pretty title or heading

WordArt is a feature that has been around for many years. The conventional way to create WordArt is to choose the tools from the Insert ribbon, choose a style, type some text and then play with the settings.

In Word, there is a second tool that lets you select some existing text and apply WordArt Styling to it.

Here’s the process:

  • Select your text (normally a title or heading).
  • Click the blue A icon (called Text Effects and Typography). 
  • Select one of the thumbnail images from the gallery to apply the effect to your text.
  • You can switch the style at any time.
The Text Effects and Typography (WordArt) tool in Word
  • Using the options underneath, you can also change the outline (colour, thickness and style), shadows, reflection and glow settings. You don't have to stick with the default settings in the main gallery.
Customise the Text Effects and Typography (WordArt) settings in Word

Here are some samples of text effects and typography:

Some example of Text Effects and Typography (WordArt) in Word

12. Key Takeaways

  • The most commonly used text formatting tools in Word are found on the Home ribbon in the Font group.
  • To access even more text formatting tools in Word, click the launcher icon in the bottom-right corner of the Font group (on the Home ribbon). This displays the Font dialog which not only displays the tools found on the ribbon but also additional tools.
  • Common text formatting includes the font, font size, font colour, empasis tools like bold, italic and underline, strikethrough, superscript, subscript, WordArt and the highlighter tool.

13. what next?

I hope you found plenty of value in this post. I'd love to hear your biggest takeaway in the comments below together with any questions you may have.

Have a fantastic day.

Jason Morrell blog signature
About Jason Morrell

About the author

Jason Morrell

Jason Morrell is a professional trainer, consultant and course creator who lives on the glorious Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia.

He helps people of all levels unleash and leverage the power contained within Microsoft Office by delivering training, troubleshooting services and taking on client projects. He loves to simplify tricky concepts and provide helpful, proven, actionable advice that can be implemented for quick results.

Purely for amusement he sometimes talks about himself in the third person.


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