Bold, Italics, Underline, and Format Painter

Format text to improve Word documents. Learn how to use the Format Painter, as well as bold, underline, and italics.


By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Change the type style of text using:
    • Bold
    • Italics
    • Underline
    • Color
  • Use the Format Painter

All about fonts

There are thousands of fonts, each with its own particular design and character. Your computer probably has 20 or more different fonts installed. Fonts come in three basic types: serif, sans serif, and script.

serif fontThis is an example of a serif font. A serif font has lines, curves, or edges extending from the straight lines of each letter. Serif fonts are easy to read, especially in longer documents.

sans serif fontThis is an example of a sans serif font. A sans serif font has no additional strokes or ornaments to the basic letter shape. Sans serif fonts are clean and clear and are ideal for headings and short documents.

script fontThis is an example of a script font. Script fonts are similar to handwriting. Although they may look nice, they can be difficult to read. Script fonts are best suited for invitations and other decorative documents.

Check this outThe default font in Word, New Times Roman, is an example of a serif font.

Using the Bold, Italics, and Underline features

To give you more options, Word lets you display text as bold, italicized, or underlined, regardless of the font and font size you choose.

Formatting tools on formatting toolbar.

To change the type style of text:

  • Select the text you want to change.
  • Choose one or more of the following, depending on how you want your text to look:
    • Click the Bold button on the Formatting toolbar (Ctrl+B).
    • Click the Italic button on the Formatting toolbar (Ctrl+I).
    • Click the Underline button on the Formatting toolbar (Ctrl+U).
  • Word automatically displays your changes.

To avoid frustration, remember to select text before you apply style. If you choose a type style without selecting text, Word uses your chosen styles on whatever text you type next.

Using color

The use of color can add emphasis to your words and make your document easier to read.

If you want to print a color copy of your document, you must have a color printer. Otherwise, your colors display as shades of gray.

To change the color of text:

  • Select the text you want to change.
  • If necessary, click the downward-pointing arrows to the right of the Highlighting button on the Formatting toolbar. A color palette appears.
  • Click the color you want to apply.
  • Word changes the color of your text.

Word text color palette.

Using the Format Painter

You've applied font, font size, a type style, and spacing. Your text is formatted exactly the way you want it. If you need to repeat this particular format throughout a document, you don't have to go through the long process of individually formatting text over and over again. Instead, use Word's shortcut: the Format Painter.

To use the Format Painter:

  1. Highlight the text containing the formatting you want to use on another piece of text.
  2. Click the Format Painter buttonFormat painter button (on the Standard toolbar).
  3. Your mouse turns into an I-beam cursor with a paintbrush to the left.
  4. Select the text you want to format.
  5. When you release the left mouse button, Word formats the text with all of the formatting characteristics of the text you selected.

Did you know?

The Format Painter is somewhat unreliable. If the text you selected in the first step contains several formatting characteristics, Word copies only the formatting characteristics the entire chunk of text has in common. For example, if you select text that is Arial font, bold, and blue, Word formats your new text with the only shared formatting characteristic: the Arial font.