Formatting Fonts

Fonts vs. Typefaces

Typefaces and fonts will be a routine part of your daily document formatting unless you’re happy with one single font for every document you write. Good font use is very important as it can allow you to better express yourself and get your point across. For that reason, you want to at least understand the very basics of how they work and what font is appropriate where and why.

For the sake of clarification, a “typeface” is basically the way a collection of letters, numbers, and symbols looks across its entirety. Here we see the Times New Roman typeface, which will have the same characteristics no matter which font you use. In other words, Times looks like Time, whether it is bolded, italicized, or whatever formatting you apply to it.


A font may be understood as the entire collection of typefaces. For example, Times New Roman and all its various forms (bold, italic, bold italic) is a “font family.” Each of the variations (regular, bold, italic, and bold italic) within the family is a font:


For the sake of simplicity, rather than split hairs and confuse you with talk of typefaces and fonts, we’ll just refer to everything type-related as a font.

Serif fonts

There are two types of fonts you should understand.

First, there are so-called serif fonts; serifs are those little bits that stick out from a letter as in the example below.


In many cases, a serif font will look best in formal of official documents. One of those most immediately identifiable and iconic examples of a serif font is seen on the New York Times masthead:


Sans serif

Conversely, a sans serif font will obviously not have serifs, hence the “sans” part. Here you see the Arial font, which is one of Windows’ default fonts.


Sans serif fonts are widely used in advertising and logos because they often tend to look new and modern. Without a doubt the most notable sans serif font is Helvetica, upon which Arial is obviously based. You can find dozens of examples of Helvetica-derived fonts in modern culture. Check out Microsoft, Target, and Panasonic for just a few examples.

You can add different fonts to Windows, and by extension Word, by downloading them from the web.

If you want to read up more about typefaces and fonts, Microsoft provides more information its typography homepage.

Point size

Point size relates to the size of the font, leading, and other page items. It is not connected to any established unit of measurement. In typography, a point is the smallest whole unit of measurement.

For most fonts in Word, the smallest point size is 8 points tall. The smallest lines and other graphic objects can have is a point size of 1. Here are some example of various point sizes:


Font Styles and Effects

You can apply various font styles and effects from the “Font” tab on the “Home” ribbon.


You can access further font effects from the full font dialog accessible by clicking the arrow in the bottom right corner.


You have a whole range of effects, including colors and different underline styles you can apply.


Use typographic emphasis (bold, italic, underline) to make the report title stand out.

To do this, select the text you want to emphasize. Click on the bold button on the Microsoft Word ribbon.

Typographic Emphasis in Microsoft Word

Note that the ribbon also has the buttons to apply italic, underline, strikethrough, and other formatting effects for text. Follow the same steps to apply those effects.

Change the font, font size, and color of the title.

Again, select the text. Click the drop-down arrow on the font section of the ribbon, then select the font you want to apply. In this case, I’m using Arial bold.

Change Font in Word


Change the Font Size

To change the font size, highlight the text. Click the drop-down arrow on the font size indicator on the ribbon. Click on the font size of your choice.

Word Formatting - Change Font Size
Or, after highlighting the text, you can type the font size into the font size indicator on the ribbon. This is especially useful when the font size you want isn’t available in the font size selector.
Word Formatting - Type New Font Size

You can also use the Increase Font Size or Decrease Font Size buttons on the ribbon to quickly change the font size.

Word - Font Size Shortcuts
Another way to change the Word style is using the Increase Font Size or Decrease Font Size buttons.


Change Font Color

We can easily change the font color as well.

Highlight the text, then click the down arrow beside the Font Color selector. Click on the color of your choice.

Change Font Color in Word

Choose More Colors… if you wish to apply a custom color.

Microsoft Word also allows you to easily and quickly change the capitalization of your text. For example, if we want to make the title all uppercase, we don’t have to retype it.

Highlight the title, then click the Change Case button on the ribbon.

Window Title CUsersLaura SpencerDownloadschange-case-shortcutjpeg Content CUsersLaura SpencerDownloadschange-case-shortcutjpeg The app didnt start in the required time OK


Or, highlight the text, go to Format > Change Case…

Word - How to Change Case


Then click on the radio button for the case you want to apply. Click OK.

Word - Format Change Case to Uppercase


Now the title is looking much better. It’s the most prominent part of the document and commands the reader’s attention. However, we can still improve its readability.

Use the Format Painter

Copying and pasting content in Word documents is a common task. However, you can also copy and paste formatting from one block of text (including images) to another. This can be handy if you want to apply the same formatting to multiple areas in your document.

NOTE: We used Word 2013 to illustrate this feature.

To copy the formatting from a block of text and/or images, highlight the content.

NOTE: To copy both text and paragraph formatting, select an entire paragraph, including the paragraph mark. To make this easier, you can show paragraph marks by showing non-printing characters.

In the “Clipboard” section of the “Home” tab, click “Format Painter.”

The cursor changes to a paint brush. Select the text to which you want to copy the formatting. When you release the mouse button, the formatting is copied to the selected text, as shown in the image at the beginning of this article.

To copy formatting to multiple blocks of text and/or images, double-click the “Format Painter” button. Then, you can apply that formatting to other areas of your document. To stop copying formatting, click the “Format Painter” button once more or press the “Esc” key.

NOTE: For copying formatting from graphics, the “Format Painter” tool works best with drawing objects, such as AutoShapes. However, you can also copy formatting from an inserted picture (such as the picture’s border).

Repeat an action

To repeat something simple, such as a paste operation, press Ctrl+Y or F4 (If F4 doesn’t seem to work, you may need to press the F-Lock key or Fn Key, then F4).

If you prefer to use the mouse, click Repeat on the Quick Access Toolbar.