Word allows you to format text dozens of ways with different text effects, colors, underline styles, and more. Word provides a few tools to make the formatting process quick and easy. Learn how to make certain characters stand out in your document with these WordTips.
Tips, Tricks, and Answers
The following articles are available for the 'Character Formatting' topic. Click the article''s title (shown in bold) to see the associated article.
Accurate Font Sizes
Want to get your typeface exactly the right size? Here's how you can specify just the size you want Word to use.
Adding a Box Around Selected Text
You can use a special field to put a box around text within a paragraph.
Adding a Font Menu
You can customize Word so it includes a Fonts menu.
Adding a Little Color
The normal way to change the color of selected text is through the use of the Font Color tool. If you have to use the same color over and over again, there is a different way—you can create your own color tool as described in this tip.
Adjusting Small Caps Text
If you use small caps text in a document, you know that there are several steps involved in properly formatting the text. These steps can be combined into a single macro that makes adjusting the text easier than ever before.
Adjusting the Width of Characters
Need to adjust how your characters look horizontally? Word provides an easy way you can scale the horizontal appearance of your text without affecting the height. Here's how to do it.
Animating Your Text
Want to make your text shimmer and dance on the screen? Depending on your version of Word you can easily add snazzy animations to your text.
Applying Bold Italics
Applying bold and italics formatting to text is easy in Word. If you want to apply bold and italics simultaneously, you can create a tool to handle this formatting easily.
Applying Formatting to Words
You don't have to select whole words before applying direct character formatting. With the proper Word options set, simply putting the insertion point in a word is enough for Word to apply character formatting to a whole word.
Applying the All Caps Format
Want your text to always appear in upper-case, regardless of how you type it? Word allows you to add formatting to your text that enforces this desire. Discover, in this tip, how to set the All Caps format for a selection of text.
Automatically Using Smart Quotes
As a way to make your documents look more professional, Word can utilize "smart quotes" for both quote marks and apostrophes. Here's what that term actually means and how to control the capability in Word.
Changing Character Color
Need to easily change the color of some selected text? A quick way to do it is with a custom macro that sets just the hue that you want. This tip describes such a macro and explains how to modify it for any color desired.
Changing Font Size Using a Shortcut Key
When you need to change the font size of a text selection, using the shortcut described in this tip is a great technique. However, what the shortcut does depends on what you have displayed on your screen.
When you need to adjust the space Word uses between characters, you need to adjust what is called "kerning." This tip explains how you can make the adjustment you need.
Changing Strikethrough Lines
Want to change the way a strikethrough line appears? It's not as easy as you think, as you find out in this tip.
Changing Text Case
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 the Formatting of All Instances of a Word
Need to find all the instances of a particular word and change the formatting of those instances? It's easy to do using the regular Find and Replace capabilities of the program.
Changing the Height of a Font
Scaling the width of a font is easy to do with Word's formatting capabilities. Scaling the height of the fonts is not so easy, but can be accomplished. Here's how.
Complex Compound Formatting
Sometimes it can seem that the formatting needs of your document can easily outstrip the capabilities of Word. This is not always the case, however. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and figure out how to best get the look you need.
Controlling the Bold Text Attribute
When processing a document in a macro, you may need to make some of your text bold. It's easy to do using the Bold attribute, as described in this tip.
Controlling the Hidden Text Attribute
Want your macro to change the Hidden attribute for some text in your document? It's easier to change than you might think.
Copying Character Formatting
If you are applying character formatting directly to text rather than using a character style you can copy it from one place to the next rather than going through all of the steps required to apply it.
Creating a Drop Cap
Drop caps can be a nice finishing touch for some types of documents. Word allows you to create three types of drop caps, and to adjust how those drop caps appear.
Creating Custom Underlines
Word provides a wide assortment of underlines that you can apply to your text. If the assortment isn't wide enough for your needs, however, you'll want to consider the options described in this tip.
Creating Thin Spaces
Thin spaces are a typographic device that allows you add a bit of space between elements of a document. There are no thin spaces available in Word (as separate characters), but you can create the same effect produced by thin spaces by using the ideas presented in this tip.
Discovering the RGB Value of a Custom Text Color
Word allows you to easily change the color of the text in your document. If you get a document from someone else, you may want to know what color was applied to a particular selection of text. Here's how to find out that information an make changes to that color throughout a document.
Word can make your text look as if it has been embossed on the page.
Word allows you to format your text in a number of different ways. One rather esoteric way to format your text is by "engraving" it, as described in this tip.
Fonts Don't Work in Word on New System
When you upgrade from a system with an older version of Word to a system that has a newer version, your fonts may not work in the same way as they did on your old system. The solution may lie not within Word, but in the operating system. This tip examines some ways you can deal with the problem.
Fonts in the Font Drop-Down List
Ever wonder how to customize which fonts appear in the Font drop-down list? Making changes to this list is not easy. This tip explains why.
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.
Intelligent Title Case
A common editorial need is to change the capitalization used on different words in a selection of text. Word provides a rudimentary way to adjust the case of the text, but you may want a more intelligent way of changing it.
Letters Turn into Squares
Imagine that you are typing away, and all of a sudden your beautiful prose turns into a series of small rectangles that are worthless. If you run into this problem, there are a few things you should check out.
Making Text Bold
Want a cool shortcut to make your text bold? Here's a method that fits in wonderfully with how things are done in the online world.
Missing Fonts in a Letterhead
When you create a document (such as a letterhead) that you want multiple people to use, you need to be concerned with whether the users have access to the fonts used in the document. Here's a couple of ways you can approach the problem of making sure that your document looks the same on different systems.
Want to add an overline above a character or two in your document? There are several ways you can try, as described in this tip.
Placing Numbers Over Other Numbers
Sometimes you need to create text that isn't as "linear" as you might expect. For instance, you may need to put some text over the top of other text, almost like a fraction (but without the fraction line). This tip examines a few ways that you can position text in this over-and-under manner.
Printing Hidden Text
One of the formatting attributes you can add to text is to make it "hidden," which means you can control whether it is displayed or printed. This tip explains how you can control the printing of hidden text, independent of whether it is displayed or not.
Printing without Headings
The writer uses headline styles to create a story outline. He does not want to see the headlines when he prints the story. This tip describes a couple of ways to do this.
Protecting Hidden Text
Formatting some of your text as hidden can be a great help when you need to keep some things from being viewed or printed. The hidden text can be easily unhidden by anyone, however. Here's how to get rid of it so that it can't be uncovered.
Quickly Decreasing Point Size
A shortcut for decreasing the point size of a font.
Quickly Displaying the Font Dialog Box
Want to quickly format some text in your document? Select, right-click, and make a selection, and you can get to the heart of character formatting. This tip shows how easy it is!
Quickly Increasing Point Size
Want to adjust the size of a text selection? Here's a quick shortcut to increase the size.
Replacing Quoted Text with Italics
If you have text surrounded by quotes in a document, you may want to remove the quote marks and make the text that was within them italic. Here's an easy way to make the conversion.
Resetting Default Character Formatting
If you need to remove any explicit character formatting from some text, you'll want to commit the shortcut in this tip to memory. It may end up being one of the more common shortcuts you use.
Retaining Explicit Formatting after Applying Styles
The formatting in a document is often a mix of styles and explicit formatting, applied over time. You may want to apply style-based formatting to various paragraphs and still retain some of the explicit formatting with the paragraph. Here's one approach you can use.
Searching for Character Formatting
Need to look for a piece of text possessing a particular formatting attribute? Here's the skinny on how this is accomplished.
Smushing Text Together
Word gives you control over how your text appears on the page. This includes adjusting how close letters are to each other horizontally. Here's how to make the adjustment.
Strikethrough Shortcut Key
One common type of formatting is strikethrough, which is normally applied from the Font dialog box. There is no built-in keyboard shortcut for the format, but you can make your own following the advice in this tip.
Superscript and Subscript at the Same Place
Do you want a superscript and subscript character to appear directly above each other without using the Equation Editor? There are multiple ways you can accomplish this task, and this tip examines all of those ways.
Text Prints as Bold, but Displays as Regular
What to do when text looks one way on the screen but prints a different way? This tip provides several different approaches you can use to correct the disparity.
Underlining Quoted Text
Do you have a document in which you need to convert all the quoted text (text surrounded by quotes) to underlined text? If so, then the macro presented in this tip will be a huge timesaver for you.
Underlining Section References Automatically
If you have a document that has some sort of keyword within it (such as "Section") you may want to automatically format that keyword in some way. This tip addresses just such a situation, and shows how you can apply the formatting you need.
Underlining Tabs In Numbered Lists
When Word creates an automatically numbered list, it removes some of your formatting flexibility. One thing you can't seem to format is the space after the number and the period and before the start of your text. There are ways around this dilemma, however.
Understanding Font Styles
Fonts, by default, come with one or more styles that define variations of how that font is displayed in your document. Understanding font styles enhances the way in which you can format your text.
Understanding Monospace Fonts
Monospace fonts allow you to easily achieve a specific "look" with your text or to line up information in a certain way. This tip explains what makes monospace fonts, well, "mono."
Part of the formatting you can add to your text is underlining. That simple word (underlining) represents quite a few different types of formats in Word, however. This tip discusses all the different types of underlines you can use.
Unwanted Numbering on Pasted Tables
When pasting text from another document or from the Web you can have unexpected characters sometimes show up. Many of them may be eliminated during paste by using Paste Special capabilities of Word.
Using Non-Printing Notes
Adding notes to your document in Word is a handy tool. But what if you don't want those notes to be seen on the screen or printed? Turning the notes on and off is simple.
Using Very Large Font Sizes
You can format your text to use some very, very large font sizes. The results you see from formatting with large fonts depend on the typeface used. This tip discusses some of the considerations to keep in mind.