Italic Typing Doesn't Stay Italic

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated December 29, 2018)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


Phil notes that a peculiar feature of Word is its tendency to sometimes undo font changes. He might type, "the cat sat on the mat" and want the word "sat" in italic. That's easy; he hits Ctrl+I before typing the word "sat" and it duly appears in italic as he types. But, when he then hits Ctrl+I at the end of the word (to turn off italic), Word sometimes thinks this is an undo request and un-italicizes the entire word "sat." This doesn't always happen, but does most times, and it really slows down Phil's typing. He wonders why Word does this.

Word seems to do this if it cannot, for some reason, detect that you have typed at least a full word since turning on the italic formatting. Several readers noted that they had the same problem but were able to eliminate the problem by simply pressing the second Ctrl+I after typing the space after the word "sat."

Longtime Word users will also recognize that there is another way around this—change how you apply the italic formatting. Many (if not most) Word users will type first, without worrying about formatting. Then they will go back and apply the formatting after they are done composing and editing the text. In this approach, you would type your entire sentence, then double-click on the word "sat," and finally press Ctrl+I. (Of course, you wouldn't do this after typing each sentence. I would suggest doing it after each paragraph, each page, or every few pages.)

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (888) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365.

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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What is one less than 8?

2023-06-17 12:20:45



See this tip:


2023-06-17 10:03:16

David Lucas

When I highlight a paragraph and then select "Ctrl+I" in order to italicise it, my whole document is changed to italics. Pressing "Undo" then removes the italicisation of the rest of the document, leaving inly the selected paragraph in italics.
How can I stop this happening.

2023-01-31 09:15:19


Thanks bott, Mr. Allen for this observation and possible solution, and also commenter Andy for your tip.

I am using italics quite often (Latin terms for anatomy, species, and certain dedicated parts of headings), and desire the space after the word to be considered non-italicized, so I can freely type or add anything after that without worry, so double clicking is off the table and manual selection often ends up with selecting word+space anyways in Word (not in libreoffice, though) and I do prefer to keep my hands at the keyboard once I'm typing. Will try.

2018-12-31 09:48:34

Malcolm Patterson

The longer I use Word, the less likely I am to impose formatting "directly"--i.e., by using the buttons in the Font group of the Home tab in the Ribbon, or by accessing the same controls through the context menu that comes up when I right-click. I prefer to impose a character style, e.g., Emphasis or Strong. That way, I can modify the style globally according to a client's preferences for how to emphasize text. To avoid using the mouse (so my hands stay at the keyboard), I define a keyboard shortcut for these styles. Are there downsides to this approach?

2018-12-29 05:13:44


I agree that the best way to do the formatting is at the end. It could also be done using a character style.

However, another option for doing the formatting at the time is to put underscores (for italics) or asterisks (for bold) around the text, for example, the cat _sat_ on the *mat*. Word will then autocorrect these to italic or bold.

You may need to enable the setting first. It's in options, proofing, autocorrect options, and it's on the "autoformat as you type" tab.

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