Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Making Text Bold.

Making Text Bold

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 3, 2013)

You probably already know that there are a number of ways you can make text bold in Word. One common way is to press Ctrl+B when you want to "turn on" the bold character attribute, type your word (or words), and then press Ctrl+B to turn it off.

Word provides another quick way to make text bold—using asterisks. This may sound strange, but is actually quite common in the on-line world. In plain text e-mail messages, people often use asterisks to *emphasize* words. If you type asterisks in this manner (directly next to a word or group of words, with no intervening spaces) in Word, the asterisks are automatically removed and the word(s) are shown in bold type.

You can try this yourself by typing *this is bold* (exactly as shown here, including spacing) within Word. When you type the second asterisk, both asterisks should disappear and the words "this is bold" are shown in bold type.

If this formatting shortcut doesn't work for you, it is because of a setting in Word's AutoFormat feature. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose AutoCorrect Options from the Tools menu. Word displays the AutoCorrect dialog box.
  2. Make sure the AutoFormat As You Type tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The AutoFormat As You Type tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box.

  4. Make sure the *Bold* and _Italic_ with Real Formatting check box is selected.
  5. Click OK.

The shortcut should now work just fine.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (636) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Making Text Bold.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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