Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Making Text Bold.

Making Text Bold

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 31, 2015)


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. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 and Word 2013 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left side of the dialog box click Proofing.
  3. Click AutoCorrect Options button. Word displays the AutoCorrect dialog box.
  4. Make sure the AutoFormat As You Type tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The AutoFormat As You Type tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box.

  6. Make sure the *Bold* and _Italic_ with Real Formatting check box is selected.
  7. Click OK to dismiss the AutoCorrect dialog box.
  8. Click OK to dismiss the Word Options dialog box.

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 (8726) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word 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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What is 1 + 8?

2015-02-02 10:44:02


It works fine for me but the text turns from black to red. I can't figure out how to fix that. Help.

Thanks so much.

2015-02-02 04:30:33

Paulo Almeida

Unfortunally, it does not apply the Strong character style to the expression, that is the recommended character style for bold expressions.
What I would like is a way to define a short-key sequence (e.g. CTRL b) to start applying the Strong character style and the same short-key sequence to stop aplying it.

2015-02-01 23:57:16

shishpal singh


2015-02-01 05:01:19


In Word 2010, if you position the pointer within any word that has two characters or more and then hit ctrl-b, the entire word is highlighted with only having to hit it once.

2015-02-01 03:56:41


I followed the tip on Word Professional 2010 and it did not work.

I did check that the option of:

*Bold* and _Italic_ with Real Formatting check box is selected

2015-01-31 13:28:28

Sandra Killan

It works faster using the * symbol on your number keypad.

2015-01-31 12:15:31


The tip worked, thank you. Strangely, the setting you describe is not included in your Figure 1.

2015-01-31 10:15:37

Jorge Rodrigues

Very, very good indeed!!!!

I tried and the bold is automatic when we put the last asterisc.!!!

Thanks Allen.

Best regards.

2015-01-31 05:30:27

Gordon Oldham

Sorry, but I find <Ctrl> & b twice a whole lot easier than <Shift> & 8 twice!

2015-01-31 04:37:45

Martyn Crawford

Great tip Allen - thank you!

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