Guide to Word: How to format in Word

Guide to Word: How to format in Word
Articles and interesting facts

Being able to make text into something other than an endless jumble of identically capitalized letters is a skill that will come in handy. Whether you use Microsoft Word for study or work, be sure to use text formatting to make your content clearer.

Basic orientation in Microsoft Word 

In the introductory article, we showed you how to get Microsoft Word, or the entire Microsoft 365 office suite, and how to create and save your first document. Today, we'll move on and show you the basic features it offers. 
When you open a new document, this is what you'll see:

Of course, it depends on which version of Word you use. However, the icons in Microsoft Word, their basic layout and graphical design should be similar. The online version of Microsoft Word has limited features, and you won't find all the icons we're going to talk about today. We'll be using the Mac version of Microsoft Word for the demonstrations. 
Obviously, at first glance, you have no idea what each icon means. Don't worry, we'll explain and demonstrate everything as we go along. 

Top bar 

On the right-hand side of the main top bar of the document is the quick access bar, which contains several handy features. It's up to each user what features they want to have there, their selection can be easily changed in the settings. The predefined view offers the following functions: 

  • Autosave: You can use the Autosave option if the file is saved in Microsoft OneDrive or SharePoint. 
  • Home: The home feature takes you back to the Word home page you see when you launch the application. 
  • Save: If you are saving a document for the first time, when you click on the save function, you will see a pop-up window where you can select the location where you want to save the file and change its name if necessary. To save again, just click the Save button again. 
  • Undo: A function that allows you to undo the last changes you made to a document. The Command + Z / Ctrl + Z keyboard shortcut (for Windows) has the same function. 
  • Repeat: This function is used to re-execute an action you have undone. Or you can use the Command + Y / Ctrl + Y (for Windows) keyboard shortcut. 
  • Print: allows you to print the created document.
  • Three dots: Click the three dots to customize the quick access and remove, add or replace a feature. Almost any function can be added to Quick Access. 
  • Title: The title of the document is located in the middle of the top bar. In the Windows version, you will find a search box in the middle and the title is to the left of it.  
  • Document Search: The Mac version includes a magnifying glass feature that allows you to search the document for specific words and phrases. The Command + F / Ctrl + F keyboard shortcut (for Windows) has the same function. 

As the name suggests, this feature gives you the opportunity to send your feedback to Microsoft. In the Windows version, the user and the upcoming features button appear on the top right. 

Tabs on the tabs strip - Home 

The tab strip is a series of toolbars where you can find the functions you need to perform various tasks. Today we'll be looking at the basic tab, which is the Home tab, which offers a number of basic functions to help you format text.


You can both type and copy the text of a document from the clipboard. This is done using the Paste function. You can also work with the smart clipboard, which remembers the last 20 entries. In addition, you can save some items permanently. You can use one of the following options to insert text: 

  • Insert text with formatting: This means that the text is inserted into the document along with the original formatting. 
  • Keep text only: This command inserts text into the document without the original formatting. And then we can format the text as we wish. 
  • Paste HTML format: This is used to preserve the HTML code.  
  • Insert text in Unicode code without formatting.

There are other useful functions in the Clipboard block for working with inserting and removing text: 

  • Scissors: Use to remove selected text, an alternative to scissors is the Command + X / Ctrl + X keyboard shortcut (for Windows). 
  • Papers: The Command + C / Ctrl + C (for Windows) keyboard shortcut performs the same function. 
  • Brush: Allows you to copy formatting from one location and apply it elsewhere.

Basic text formatting in Word 

Before you start adjusting font size, bolding, and inserting headings, use the formatting marks display feature (a symbol that looks like an inverted P). This feature will show you all the non-printable formatting marks. What do the basic symbols mean? 

  •  ¶ Paragraph ends 
  • ... Spaces 
  • ¬ Optional divisions 
  • abc Hidden text 
  • → Tab characters 

 A feature that makes formatting text in Word easier, because you can immediately see where you have extra space or where you're missing paragraph breaks. 


On the Home tab, there's a section for editing fonts, containing a number of features that let you change the appearance of your text. You always need to select the text you want to format. You can use the shortcut Command + A / Ctrl + A (for Windows) to mark the text of an entire document.

  • ​Scripture: When you click on the options, you can choose from a large variety of fonts.  
  • Font Size: Use this feature to adjust the font size. You can choose from the pre-provided options or type the size manually. Another option is to use the Enlarge Font or Reduce Font functions, which dynamically adjust the size of the text. 
  • Change Font Size: a function that offers a number of additional options for adjusting the size of letters: 
    • Capitalize at the beginning of a sentence 
    • All lowercase 
    • Capital Letter At The Beginning Of Every Word 
  • Clear all formatting: a useful feature especially if you will be copying text from multiple sources. I'm sure you'll find that sometimes all the text will suddenly get messed up and you'll have no idea why. 
  • Other features: To edit the text, highlight and select the desired symbol, if you want to undo the editing just click on the symbol again to restore the original formatting. What text editing you can do: 
    • Bolding (Command + B / Ctrl + B)  
    • Highlighting in italics (Command + I / Ctrl + I) 
    • Underline (Command + U / Ctrl + U) 
    • Strikethrough 
    • subscript 
    • superscript 
    • use of various text effects such as outline, shadow, reflection and more 
    • colour highlighting 
    • change colour 

Tip: Be careful about underlining text, as underlining is against typographic principles and is considered an error. 


The next block contains functions that are used to format paragraphs. To create a new paragraph, press the Enter key. Dividing the text into paragraphs is especially important for clarity and ease of navigation. What are all the paragraph formatting options Microsoft Word offers?

  • Indents: a function that allows you to insert an indent before a marked paragraph. You can choose from several types of indentation. Indents are used when creating a list. 
  • Numbering: A similar feature that allows you to number individual paragraphs, either with numbers or letters.
  • Multi-level list: when writing more complex text, one level of bullet points may not be enough, so you can use this feature to divide paragraphs into multiple levels. It applies not only to bullet points, but also to numeric or written lists. 
  • Reduce Indent and Increase Indent: Functions to change the distance of indents from the margin. 
  • Sort: Sort each paragraph alphabetically in ascending (A to Z) or descending (Z to A) order. 
  • Text Alignment: Functions that allow you to align selected text to the left, center, right, or block. 
  • Line spacing and paragraph spacing: allows you to set the spacing between lines and paragraphs. 
  • Shading: similar to the text highlighting function, except that here you highlight the entire paragraph in color. 
  • Border: A function for bordering paragraphs with lines, where you can, for example, put the whole paragraph in a box. 

American vs. European way of formatting paragraphs

When formatting paragraphs, be clear whether you want to use the American way of formatting or the European way commonly used in academia. How are they different? The American way of formatting separates paragraphs with a more prominent space between them, while the European way uses indentation on the first line of a new paragraph.  
How to set the first line indentation? 

  • Place the cursor in the paragraph you want to indent. 
  • Click the Home tab. 
  • Right-click on the Normal style (or the style you are using in that paragraph) and select Change
  • In the bottom left corner, select Format and switch to Paragraph
  • On the Indent tab, select Special and choose First Line
  • You can set the indentation level in the By how much window. 
  • Click OK and you're done. 


Styles serve as a sort of shortcut for formatting your document. It's a powerful tool that helps you achieve a consistent style for your document more quickly. They cover various aspects of formatting such as font type, font size, indentation, alignment, colors and much more. 
The Home tab provides a basic menu of styles for different levels of headings, highlighting, and other text formatting. In addition to the default styles, you can create custom styles to meet your specific formatting needs.

To create a custom style, click on the Styles pane and a pop-up bar will appear on the right side. Click New Style... and then set the formatting for your new style. The style you create can then be used in all other documents. You can also add it to your quick styles list so you always have it handy. 

Tip: If your file gets corrupted or overwritten, you will lose your created style, so we recommend backing up your document to the cloud, for example.

Other features 

Other features offered by the Home tab include Dictate, which allows you to dictate text using the microphone. On the Mac, you can currently only dictate in English. On Windows, you'll need to use Azure's corporate plugins or have Windows 11, which has English support built in, to support English. Most users, however, have Windows 10, which again only supports English. 
The editor is another feature that Word offers. Microsoft Editor uses AI to help you write the best possible text without stylistic and grammatical errors. We've written a guide on how to set up Microsoft Editor in our introductory guide for Microsoft Word. Later this year, Microsoft Editor is expected to be replaced by Microsoft Copilot, which will offer you a range of new ways to use Microsoft's apps effectively.  

More useful tips  

Today, we've also put together a few tips that you'll find useful when formatting your document. 

How to fixed space in Word? 

A fixed space is one that, unlike a standard space, prevents text from wrapping at the end of a line between two words, letters, or characters that you choose. Often a fixed space is used when writing conjunctions or prepositions.  

You have two options for typing a fixed space:  

  • Use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + Spacebar
  • Paste in Word: On the tab bar, select the Insert tab, then click Symbol. Select More Symbols and then select the Special Characters bar in the pop-up window. Then just find where the fixed space is in Word and double-click or click the Insert button to place the character in the text.

Number the pages of your document 

Another useful feature that Microsoft Word offers is page numbering. How to do it? This time, you won't navigate to the Home tab, but go to the Insert tab.  

  • Click on Page Number. 
  • A pop-up window will appear. There, select the placement of the numbers and also the alignment method. 
  • Click OK to confirm your choice. 

If you want to start numbering from a certain page onwards just display the Page Number icon options and select Page Numbering Format. In the Start from box, type the page number from which you want to start numbering the document. 

How do I view page numbering from a specific page? 

In order to number a document from a certain page onwards, you need to insert "End of section on next page" on the previous page. Sections are used to divide the document into several parts, this gives you the ability to set different document appearance in each section. You can insert the end of a section by clicking on the Layout tab. Select the Endings feature and choose Next Page from the menu.  
Then double-click at the bottom of the document to navigate to the Header and Footer. On the tab bar, click Link to previous. You now have your document divided into Section 1 and Section 2. Then all you have to do is delete the numbering from the section you don't want numbered.

Another useful feature is the numbering of only even or odd pages. To set this, double-click in the Header or Footer area. This will bring up a new Header and Footer tab. Here, check the Other option on even and odd pages. This gives you the option to number only the odd pages of the document, for example. 
Now you can dive into writing, and especially formatting your text, and try out everything you've learned in this article.

Unleash the full potential of your IT today
By selecting "Submit" I acknowledge the personal data processing policy.

Related articles

We will find a solution for you too

Contact us

Interested in trying our services or a consultation? Leave us your contact details and we will get back to you within 3 hours.
- We will get back to you within 3 hours
- Non-stop support in English and Czech
- You have a preliminary offer within a week
- 99.99% data availability guarantee
Call us
You don't want to wait for an answer?
Call us at
+420 225 006 555
By selecting "Submit" I acknowledge the personal data processing policy.