Word includes several formatting tools that allow you to make your text appear how you want. Depending on the purpose of your document, altering certain formatting elements like backgrounds, lines, margins, or highlighting may be crucial. The following articles outline what Word allows you to format and how to best utilize it.
Tips, Tricks, and Answers
The following articles are available for the 'Formatting' topic. Click the article''s title (shown in bold) to see the associated article.
Absolutely Getting Rid of Formatting
Need to get rid of the formatting applied to a bunch of text? One of the easiest ways to do this is to use Notepad in conjunction with Word.
Adding Fonts To the Context Menu
Context menus appear when you right-click on different items in Word. These menus can be edited to add items, such as common fonts you routinely use. You can then apply a font to selected text by right-clicking and using your newly modified Context menu.
Adding Horizontal Lines at the Sides of a Word
Want to add a couple of horizontal lines at the sides of a word? It can be trickier than it sounds, but there are several ways you can get just the type of lines you want, exactly where you want them.
Adding Vertical Lines at the Sides of a Word
Vertical lines are even easier to add around a word than are horizontal lines. There are a variety of methods you can use to add the lines, and only a few of them include any drawing.
Applying Formatting in Lists
If you want to change the formatting applied to numbers or bullets in your lists, you'll appreciate the information in this tip. All you need to do is format the end-of-paragraph marker for each item in the list.
AutoFormatting a Document
The AutoFormat feature of Word can be configured to make changes to a variety of conditions in your document. Here's how to change the settings so that it performs just the formatting changes you want.
Automatic Blank Pages at the End of a Section
If you want to have a blank page at the end of a document section, you can insert one manually or you can use the technique described in this tip. The technique makes the added pages dynamic and easy to use.
Automatically Formatting Text within Quotes
Some people use quote marks around text to make it stand out. At some point you may want to treat the quoted text differently, perhaps by making it bold. This tip presents two ways you can make the conversion.
Basing Headers and Footers on the Previous Section
Word treats the headers and footers in a document independently, based on the section in which they appear. This means that the headers and footers in one section can be different from those in the previous section—or you can instruct Word to continue the headers and footers from the previous section. This tip examines some of the interactions that these settings can cause within a document.
Breaking Lines in E-mail
If you are creating an e-mail in Word, or are creating text that you will paste into an e-mail document, you may want to limit the length of each line of that text. This is easy to manually do in short messages, but much more difficult and time consuming in longer messages. The handy macro in this tip can do the tedious work for you, rendering a plain text message with each line no longer than a specific length.
Changing AutoFormatting Rules
The AutoFormat feature of Word can be configured to make changes to a variety of conditions in your document. Here's how to change the settings so that it performs just the formatting changes you want.
Changing Text Case Many Times
Word provides a built-in shortcut to change the case of a text selection. Understanding how that shortcut works (and the other options available to you) can make some editing tasks easier.
Changing Text Orientation
Word allows you to change the orientation of text contained within certain objects, such as AutoShapes, text boxes, and table cells. Here's how you do it.
Changing the Default Font
Don't like the font that Word uses for a default in your new documents? You can pick a different font, but the way you make the selection is not as straightforward as you might expect.
Columns within Text Boxes
Text boxes are a common design element for some documents. If you want a text box to contain multiple columns, you are out of luck—Word doesn't allow columns in text boxes. This tip describes how you can work around this limitation and get the design to appear just as you want it.
Consistent Formatting Between Word Versions
When you upgrade from one version of Word to another, you may be surprised to find that your documents, all of a sudden, look a bit different than they used to. This can be attributed to several factors, discussed in this tip.
It is a good idea to make sure that the spacing following each sentence in your document is consistent. Here's a handy macro you can use to ensure that there is only a single space after each sentence.
Want to copy a format from one place to another without taking your hands off the keyboard? It's easy to do if you apply the shortcut keys in this tip.
Creating a Numbered List
Numbered lists provide a 1-2-3 way of organizing your document. You can create numbered lists very easily using the techniques in this tip.
Creating an Inline Heading
When settling on an overall design for your document, you need to decide how you want your headings to appear. If you want one of your heading levels to actually be "inline" with the paragraph it precedes, applying the styles and not messing up your Table of Contents can be tricky.
Creating See-through Text Boxes
When laying out your document, you may want to use a text box that appears to be positioned over your text, but to be transparent so you can see what is behind the text box. Here's how to create just that type of element.
Deleting Paragraph Borders
Got a document that has a border around some paragraphs? Here's how you can get rid of the border in the fastest way possible.
Want to know exactly how far something on the ruler is from the left and right margins of your document? It's easy to figure out with this esoteric shortcut.
Indenting a paragraph is easy in Word. In fact, the program provides shortcut keys that make it a snap. Indenting from both the left and right margins is not as easy, but you can make it easy by using the techniques described in this tip.
Drop Shadows for Tables
When adding borders and shading to a document's elements, Word allows you to quickly add drop shadows to paragraphs, text boxes, and other objects. What you cannot easily do is to add a drop-shadow to a table. This tip explains different ways you can still achieve the desired results.
Edits Cause Text to Switch to Odd Fonts
If you have problems with strange fonts showing up when you paste information into a document, it is helpful to understand the way Word treats formatting in whatever you are pasting. This tip explains what is going on and discusses how you can get the text appearance you want.
Eliminating "Before Spacing" at the Top of a Page
When formatting paragraphs in Word, you have several options to adjust the spacing before, within, and at the end of each paragraph. Here's how to eliminate the extra space that can sometimes appear at the top of a page.
Embedding TrueType Fonts
If you need to make sure that the fonts in your document can be used by another person or on a different system, you'll need to embed those fonts. Here's how to make the necessary configuration change.
Embedding TrueType Fonts by Default
If you use TrueType fonts frequently, you might want to set Word to embed those fonts by default. Here's how to do it.
Embedding TrueType Fonts in E-mails Composed in Word
When you use Word as your e-mail editor, it allows you to format the text of your e-mail messages using tools you are familiar with. Not all features relative to a document—such as embedding fonts—are available in the e-mail messages created with Word. This tip presents a way you can workaround this limitation.
Ensuring Consistent Lines on Each Page
Need to have a specific number of lines on each page in your documents? What if those documents are subdocuments to a master document? This tip explains the ways that you can get the exact number of lines you need.
Exactly Positioning Text
If you need to control exactly where text will appear on the page or relative to other text, you need to know about the ADVANCE field. Here's the low-down.
Extending a Paragraph into the Left Margin
Word allows you to format a paragraph so that it extends into the left margin of the document. This is done by setting a negative indent for the paragraph.
Extra Shaded Lines
Put a page break at the beginning of a shaded paragraph and you may be surprised at what you get on your printout. This tip examines the problem of extra shaded lines at the bottom of a printed page and what you can do to get rid of them.
Finding Missing Fonts
When you open documents that were created a long time ago on a system far, far away (sounds almost epic, doesn't it?), you may discover that the documents contain fonts you no longer have installed on your system. You'll obviously want to change those fonts to new formatting, and doing so in a reasonable manner is the subject of this tip.
Fixing Mismatched Bullets and Numbers
When you format bulleted lists or numbered lists, you may be surprised if some of the bullets or numbers don't match the other bullets or numbers. Careful attention to what you are actually formatting can help to cure this problem, as discussed here.
Font Substitution Problems
When your document uses fonts that are not available on your computer system, Word substitutes other fonts that it feels are close to what the document calls for. This can cause problems, as outlined in this tip.
Fonts Missing in Word
What are you to do if you find that you have no fonts available in Word, but they are available in other programs? There could be a couple of different reasons for the missing fonts, as described in this tip.
Format Painter Shortcut
Need a way to copy formatting using the keyboard? Word has a great one, and it doesn't involve the Format Painter or the Clipboard.
When you use the mail-merge capabilities of Word, the information merged takes on the formatting of your source document, not your data source. If you want to apply different formatting to some of the information you merge, you'll need to use the technique illustrated in this tip.
Formatting All Headings At Once
If you need to apply a common formatting change to all the headings in your document, a quick way to do it is to use the Outline view of Word. This tip presents a simple technique that can save you loads of time.
Formatting Differences between Word Versions
Create a document in one version of Word on one machine and then open that document in a different version of Word on a different machine and you may be surprised at the results. There can be lots of things that affect how the same document is rendered, displayed, and printed on each system. This tip discusses some of the things you can do to minimize the differences between systems.
Formatting E-mail using AutoFormat
If you copy the text of an e-mail message to a Word document, you may notice that the formatting of the text leaves a lot to be desired. If you are faced with formatting text that originated in an e-mail, you'll appreciate the information presented in this tip.
Need to have a great looking fraction in a document? It's relatively easy to do if you apply the formatting techniques discussed in this tip.
Getting Rid of Blue Squiggly Underlines
In an effort to make your writing better, Word uses "squiggly" underlines to mark things it thinks you may need to change. If you see some blue squiggly underlines on your screen, you may wonder what they are for and how to get rid of them. Here's the skinny.
Highlighting Information Using Shading
Need to draw attention to some text in your document? You can do it by applying some fast and easy shading to your text.
Word, as you type, normally formats hyperlinks automatically. If you don't like the way that hyperlinks look in a particular document, you can make a simple change to the style used for hyperlinks and the change will be made throughout your document.
Inserting Signature Lines
How to create signature lines in a Word document.
Jumping to the End of Page after Enter
Imagine you start typing in a new document, and when you press the Enter key the cursor jumps a huge distance to the bottom of the page. What could be going on? The answer could be as simple as a single change in Word's page setup.
Leaving Even Pages Blank
Want to print your document only on odd-numbered pages in a printout? There are a couple of things you can try, as detailed in this tip.
Letters and Numbers in Page Numbers
A common task is to add page numbers to document headers and footers. If you want those page numbers to include more than just digits, you can easily accomplish your desires.
Lines that Don't Change When You Type
Create a form in Word and you will invariably be faced with the need to places fill-in-the-blank lines in the document. If you want those lines to remain as people fill in the form, there are a couple of ways you can format the document.
Maintaining Formatting when Inserting Documents
Word allows you to easily insert the contents of one document into another. Doing so, however, may result in unintended results as the formatting of what you insert may look nothing like the original document. Here's why that happens and what you can do about it.
Margin Notes in Word
Some types of documents rely upon margin notes to the left or right of your main text. Getting these to appear in Word can be tricky, as there is no built-in function that creates them. This tip discusses one approach you can use, which involves tables.
Margins for All Documents Changing
Have you had the margins in a group of documents change without you knowingly doing anything? This tip explores some reasons this might happen and what you can do to keep your margin settings consistent.
Mixing Column Formats On a Page
Want to switch the number of columns used for your text, in the middle of a page? You can do this very easily by following the steps in this tip.
Noting Formatting Inconsistencies
When you create a document, Word is constantly checking behind the scenes to make sure that what you type makes sense. Tools such as spelling and grammar checking are not the only way this is done. You can also have Word check for formatting inconsistencies.
Precise Ruler Adjustments
When adjusting the position of things on the ruler (like tab stops), you can use the Alt key to get very precise in your adjustments. Just hold down the key as you drag items with the mouse, and you can immediately see what is happening.
Problems Using Words as Bullets
If you know the secret, you can use actual words as "bullets" in a bulleted list. The built-in bulleted lists in Word aren't the way to achieve what you want to do, and this tip explains why. It also provides a macro that you can use to apply the formatting you want to the list.
Quickly Adjusting Paragraph Spacing
Need to easily adjust the vertical spacing that follows a paragraph? You can do it using dialog boxes or you can create your own shortcuts, as described in this tip.
Quickly Changing Font Sizes
A quick little shortcut can help you easily step through different font sizes for whatever text you've selected. Word provides a shortcut for increasing font sizes and another for decreasing font sizes.
Quickly Displaying Formatting Specs
It's easy to apply formatting to text, but often hard (after the fact) to know exactly what was done. If you often need to know what formatting is applied to a text selection, you'll love the shortcuts described in this tip.
Quickly Formatting Multiple Documents
Need to format a bunch of documents so they all look the same? If the documents use styles, doing the formatting is relatively easy, as described in this tip.
Read-Only Embedded Fonts
If you receive a document from somebody else, you might not be able to edit it if the document contains fonts that you don't have installed on your system. In this case, it is helpful to understand how Word views those fonts.
Removing the Box from a Text Box
Insert a text box, and it is automatically formatted to have a border around it. Getting rid of the border is easy, if you follow the steps in this tip.
If you paste information from one document into another, you may be surprised at the results. If your text changes from regular to bold (and vice versa), you'll be interested in the solutions discussed in this tip.
Rotating a Page of Text
Beginning with Word 2000, you can rotate a page of text by using the Far East language support built into Word. This tip shows how easy it is to implement this little trick.
Setting the Starting Line Number
You are not limited to starting the line numbering in a document with 1. You can, instead, start the numbering at any other value you want. This is real handy when you have multiple documents that need to be printed, in order.
Setting the Wrapping Default for Objects
Want to have objects such as text boxes and shapes always appear using some formatting you like? Here are some ideas on setting the defaults according to your needs.
Printed sign-in sheets are a staple at many meetings and seminars. Word can create them lickety-split just by using a few tabs. It's all in the setup of your styles, as this tip illustrates.
Talking to Yourself
Need to keep notes about a document, but you don't want others to see those notes either on-screen or on-paper? Here's an easy way to add helpful notes throughout your document.
The Standard on the Ruler
Need to know all there is to know about the Ruler? This tip leads to a valuable Word MVP article on the subject.
Turning Off Proofing for Superscripts
When you add superscripts to words in your document, you may not want those superscripts to be spell-checked. Here's how to disable the checking of your superscripts.
Turning Off Smart Quotes for Specific Styles
Smart quotes can be helpful in making a great-looking document, but at times they can be a real pain. Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could control smart quotes based on the style of the paragraph you are creating? Unfortunately, this isn't currently possible in Word.
Two Page Numbering Schemes in the Same Document
Word is great at numbering pages if you only need a single, consistent numbering scheme through the document. If you need two separate numbering schemes, you need to apply some workarounds described in this tip.
Unable to Use Bulleting and Numbering
Got a document where you just can't get bullets and numbering to work right? It could be that your document is corrupted. This tip discusses some of the things you can do to figure out the problem.
Understanding Paragraph Alignment
One of the most basic ways to align paragraphs is to set the alignment used for the text in the paragraph. Word provides five different ways to align text, as discussed in this tip.
Word can understand many different measurement units. One common unit understood by Word is the pica, described in this tip.
Understanding Point Sizes
Points are the common unit of measure for typefaces in the printing industry. They are also used quite often in Word. Here's what they are all about.
Understanding Strikethrough Formatting
The strikethrough text feature in Word can be used as part of your document or to indicate that changes have been made to the text. This tip looks at when strikethroughs might appear and how you can use them.
Using a Macro to Change the Formatting of All Instances of a Word
If you have a word that you need to make sure is formatted the same way throughout your document, there are several ways you can approach the task. One is to format manually, another is to use a style, and the third method (described in this tip) is to use a macro to handle the formatting.
Using Chapter Numbers with Page Numbers
Do you need to add page numbers that include, as well, a chapter number? It's relatively easy to do, as described in this tip.
Using Parallel Columns
Users of WordPerfect know what parallel columns are. There is no such capability in Word, but there are ways you can achieve the same end results.
Using Text As a Page Border
Word allows you to add page borders to a document, but you might find the options in this area too limiting. What if you want to create your own page borders or use text as a page border? This tip explains how you can accomplish your designs.
Watermarks in Columns
If you are creating small flyers (two per page), you may want to include a watermark graphic in the background of each of the flyers. Here's some ideas on how you can accomplish this task.
Working with Other People's Files
When you get files from other people, you may want a quick way to apply your formatting to their text. Provided that the document you receive is formatted using styles, the application of your own formatting is easy when you use the technique described in this tip.
X-ing Out Text
You can easily use strikethrough formatting to show deleted text in a document. What if you want to actually overprint text with an "x" to show your deletions? There are a couple of ways you can implement this type of character handling.