Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 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: Applying Formatting to Words.

Applying Formatting to Words

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 16, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2000, 2002, and 2003


The general way you accomplish tasks in Word is to select the text on which you want to perform an action, and then perform the action. For instance, if you wanted to make a text selection bold, you would first select the text, and then click on the Bold button on the Formatting toolbar, or press Ctrl+B.

There is one notable exception to this pattern, however. If you are using Word 2000 or later and you want to apply formatting to a single word in your document, you don't need to first select the word. All you need to do is make sure the insertion point is located within the word. To test this out, follow these steps:

  1. Position the insertion point within a word in your document.
  2. Click on the Bold button on the Formatting toolbar. The entire word should be changed to bold type.
  3. Press Ctrl+U. The entire word should become underlined, and the Underline button on the Formatting toolbar is automatically selected.
  4. Press Ctrl+Space Bar. The formatting of the word returns to its default setting.

You can try this out with virtually any character formatting. It even works if you simply position the insertion point and choose the Font option from the Format menu. Any changes you make in the dialog box are automatically applied to the entire word.

If this whole-word formatting doesn't work for you, it could be because of the way you have Word configured. Choose Tools | Options and make sure the Edit tab is displayed. You should see a check box named When Selecting, Automatically Select Entire Word.

This setting controls not only how words are selected, but also how they are formatted when using the technique described in this tip. If the check box is selected, then the formatting works as described here; if the check box is not selected, then whole-word formatting won't work.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1097) applies to Microsoft Word 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Applying Formatting to Words.

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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