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 Hidden Tool in Word
Word no longer includes a Hidden tool on the ribbon as it used to in earlier versions that used toolbars. You can still add such a tool, but it won't function in exactly the same way as in earlier versions.
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.
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 uppercase, 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 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.
Changing Existing Highlighting
Need to change the color you previously used to highlight text in your document? You can use Word's Find and Replace tool to make the change.
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 Text Case Many Times
You can use the built-in Word shortcut to change the case of a text selection. You may have quite a few items in a document that need to be changed, however. In that case, you'll love the macro presented in this tip.
Changing the Color of a Tab's Leader Character
When you set tab stops for a paragraph, you can also specify leader characters to be used with the tab stop. If you want those leader characters to be a different color than the rest of the text, this tip will come in handy.
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.
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.
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.
Default Font for Page Numbers
Page numbers are a common addition to documents, and a great aid to readers. If you want to easily format page numbers, you need to understand how Word formats them. This tip explains the best ways to get the formatting you want.
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 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.
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.
Finding Word's Font Substitutes
Different machines can have different fonts installed on them. Because of this, it is possible for a document that looks fine on one machine to look entirely different on another, if that other machine doesn't have the same fonts installed. When this occurs, Word substitutes fonts of its choosing for the missing fonts. Here's how to discover what Word is doing behind the scenes.
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 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.
If you need to format a number so that it appears as currency, it is not as easy to do in Word as it is in Excel. You can use the technique introduced in this tip (utilizing fields) to control exactly how you want that number displayed.
Highlighting Information Using Shading
Word allows you to shade entire paragraphs or simple selections of text. This is a great way to highlight information on the printed page, as described in this tip.
Highlighting Text Using the Keyboard Only
Highlighting text, using the Highlight tool, is a great way to mark up a document. Normally you need to use the toolbar tools to add highlighting, but you can create your own shortcuts to add the highlighting you desire.
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.
Printing Placeholders and Answers
A common use to which teachers put Word is to create tests and answer sheets. By imaginatively applying the features of Word, you can create the test and its answer sheet in the same document. Here's how.
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 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 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 Character Formatting in a Macro
Shortcut keys are a great way to apply styles to text in a document. You can easily create a shortcut key assignment for any style you desire. This tip explains how.
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.
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.
Searching for Text that Does Not Have a Certain Format
You can easily use Find and Replace to find text that has a particular format to it. Most people don't know you can use the same tool to find text that does not have a particular format. Here's how to do this type of search.
Shortcuts to Change Text Colors
Want a way to change the color of your text through a shortcut key? You can do so by using the macros described in this tip.
Shortening Word's Font List
When you format the text in a document, you can use any of the fonts that Word makes available to you. If that font list gets too long to easily manage, then you may want to consider some of the ideas presented in this tip.
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.
Special Symbols Display Incorrectly
When sharing your documents with others, you may occasionally have a problem where some of the symbols used in your document don't display properly. This generally has to do with font-related issues, as discussed in this tip.
Specifying 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.
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? There are multiple ways you can accomplish this task, and this tip examines all of those ways.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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 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.
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.