Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. 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: Creating Custom Underlines.

Creating Custom Underlines

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 16, 2020)


When it comes time to underlining some of the text in a document, many people rely on the Underline tool on the Home tab of the ribbon (in the Font group). This applies one type of underline, but Word has more than one type of underline you can use. You can see some of those underlining styles (eight of them) by clicking the down-arrow at the right of the Underline tool. If you want even more underlining styles, click the down-arrow and then click More Underlines. Word displays the Font tab of the Font dialog box. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Font tab of the Font dialog box.

Note that the dialog box includes a drop-down list entitled Underline Style. Click on the list and you can choose any of 18 ways to underline your text (including "None and Words Ony"). For some people, this variety still might not be enough. For instance, you may want to underline your text using fine dots, rather than a dashed underline or heavy dotted underline, both of which are options in the Underline Style drop-down list.

This is where it would be nice to create custom underlines in Word. Unfortunately, there is no way to do this. You could, of course, use the drawing capabilities of Word to create just the type of lines you want, but you would need to place them individually and then move them if your text moves.

A better solution, particularly if you will be doing lots and lots of underlining in a particular manner, is to create your own font that incorporates just the type of underlining you need. Using a font editor (there are many on the market) you can pick whatever font you want, modify that font to include the underlines, and then save the font under a new name. When you want the custom underline, just switch the font on the selected text.

Of course, if you create a custom font and then share the document with others, you will either need to make sure that the others also have the font or you'll need to embed the font within the document (as described in other issues of WordTips).

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9861) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Creating Custom Underlines.

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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2020-11-16 10:04:39


When you decide to underline, think carefully. Most underlining is an anachronism of the typewriter era. You'll note that before desktop publishing, it was never used in printed work (e.g., books and periodicals). It still doesn't appear in text printed by the major publishers.

Federal Plain Language Guidelines explicitly discourage underlining, saying that "underlining will draw the user’s attention to the section, but it makes it hard to read." (The guidelines also point out that it often creates an expectation that the underlined text will be a hyperlink.)

2015-03-30 14:52:58

Rhonda Cole

Using a table for underling is great for fill in forms as they do not move when you are typing. If traces of the lines can be seen after removing them, you can color the missing lines white.

2015-03-29 19:25:17


Of course, if you do modify a font you will need to be mindful of copyright. Sharing your font file will be OK if the font was originally in the public domain with no restrictions; if it is a commercial font it would be inappropriate to share your modification. It's a grey-area when embedding a modified copyright font within a document - technically it is a breech of copyright.

Be aware that just because you were able to download a font for free from the internet does not mean that you can do what you like. Many legitimately free-to-use fonts may have restrictions on modifying - if in doubt, you are best to contact the designer/owner or to choose another font.

Also note that copyright is not a matter of what you or someone else thinks is reasonable. It is legally-defined, and a complex law to interpret. It is written to benefit the owners of the material, not the useers. What is commonly believed to be fair may not always reflected in the copyright law of your country.

2015-03-29 11:14:42


This is great! I can use this more than most things I use in word. I don't know a lot about word, so your tips are very useful!

2015-03-28 05:26:27

Gerald Feldman

For a few lines of text, yet another way to underline is to insert a table, remove the top, left, and right borders, adjust the line spacing and cell alignment, and place your text into the table above the remaining lines of each cell. You can then edit these "underlines" using borders and shading to any of ~25 styles.

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