Word 97/2000: Basic Formatting

Before You Begin

You should already have the skills taught in Word 97/2000: Introduction (dww23). Those skills include creating, opening, and saving documents; editing, copying, cutting, and pasting; turning on and moving toolbars; and switching views. This document also assumes you have the skills taught in Windows 95/98: Getting Started (dws07), including using a mouse to select options; to size, move, and resize windows; and to pull up shortcut menus.

Please note: in this document, information unique to Word 2000 appears in a shaded box.

The Formatting Story

Once upon a time, only professional typesetters could produce documents with interesting formatting, while everyone else's documents had that typewritten look. With Word, it's now easy to produce documents that look like they are typeset. In this handout and the accompanying class, you'll learn to use Word to format characters and paragraphs. You'll also learn a little about formatting your entire document; you can learn more about document formatting in the Word 97/2000: Papers & Reports (dww25) handout and class.

Selecting Text to Format

If you type some text and want to change its formatting, you need to select the text first. You learned in the Introduction handout and class to select a block of text with your mouse using the I-beam. Other methods for selecting text are described in the following table:
To Select This: Do This:
A Custom Selection

Click once to place the I-beam at the start of the text you want. Move the I-beam to the end of the text, hold down the <Shift> key, and click again.

Word Double-click on the word.
Sentence Press the <Ctrl> key and click in the sentence.
Line Place the pointer in the left margin beside the line and click.
Paragraph Place the pointer in the left margin beside the paragraph and double-click, or triple-click on the paragraph.
Document Place the pointer anywhere in the left margin, press the <Ctrl> key, and click, or triple click in the left margin. You can also choose Select All from the Edit menu or hold down the <Ctrl> key and type <A>.
Column Hold down the <Alt> key, then click and drag the highlight over the desired text.

You can also set up your formatting before typing anything or without selecting text. After you change your formatting options, everything you type has the new formatting. You'll see how this works as we proceed.

Formatting Characters

After you have selected the text, you can apply any combination of character formatting to it. If you do not see the Formatting toolbar, you can turn it on by selecting Toolbars from the View menu.

Using the Formatting Toolbar

The Formatting Toolbar has buttons for frequently used formatting options.
formatting toolbar

The first field on the toolbar shows the font's style. In the illustration shown, the text style is "Normal." Styles are discussed in the ATN document Word 97/2000: Tables and Styles (dww29) and the accompanying class.

The next field shows the text's font, that is, the typeface; in the illustration, the font is Times New Roman. To change the font, click the arrow next to the current font name, and select a different one from the drop down list. The list shows the fonts you used most recently first, and then all the fonts in alphabetical order. To change the size of the font, use the font size field to the right of the font type field. Fonts are measured in “points," with 72 points to an inch. Most documents use a 10 or 12 point font. You can type a new number in the Font Size field, or select a size from the drop down list.

bold, italic, underline buttonsClick the three formatting buttons to make text bold [B], italic [I], or underline [U].

color formatting buttonTo change the color of your text, click the font color button on the far right of the toolbar. To select a different color, click the arrow next to the button and choose from the drop down list.

You can use the highlighter button on the right side of the formatting toolbar to call attention to blocks of text. The highlighter is designed for proofreading or adding comments to a document. Click the button, and select a block of text. The text becomes a bright color on the screen. The highlighter is probably best for reading documents online. If you do leave the text highlighted and print a black and white copy of your document, the highlighted text has a gray box around it.
Tip: Keep an eye on the formatting toolbar as you work. It shows how text will be formatted when you type. For example, when the Bold button is on, everything you type is bold.

Using the Format Menu

For additional character formatting options, select Font... from the Format menu, and then select the font tab. The font tab has the same formatting options available on the formatting toolbar but it also has others. As you make changes, the preview area in the bottom half of the dialog box shows how your text will look. You can select a special Underline style for your text on this tab. You can use different Effects such as emboss, engrave, superscript (as with the 2 in E=mc2), or subscript (as with the 2 in H2O). If you define text as hidden, it shows up on-line only if Show/Hide Paragraphs is turned on and prints only if you specify that it should in the Print Options menu. (To print hidden text, select Print from the File menu, click the Options button, and select Hidden Text.) Additional animated features are also available on the Animation tab (known as Text Effects in Word 2000). Animated effects like shimmers and sparkles will stand out if you're looking at them on-screen, but none of these features print.

Using the Keyboard

You can apply many character formats without using the mouse or the menu. Just use keyboard shortcuts like <Ctrl> B for bold, <Ctrl> I for italic, and <Ctrl> U for underline.

Using the Format Painter

format painter
You can use the Format Painter button to apply the formatting of one block of text to another block of text formatted differently. To use the Format Painter, first select the text that is formatted the way you want the other text to look. Then choose the Format Painter button from the Formatting toolbar. Your I-beam now has a paint brush attached to it. “Brush" the I-beam over the text you want to “paint" with the formatting of the first text block. The pointer arrow returns to normal once you paint the text. You can also select text and then double-click the Format Painter. In this case, the Format Painter stays on until you turn it off by clicking the button again.

Formatting Paragraphs

Paragraph formatting includes setting tabs and indents, alignment, numbering, bulleting, and borders. If you want to have several rows of text lined up so that each line begins at the same place, you must use paragraph formatting (tabs and indents) to control the spacing. To select a single paragraph for formatting, simply place the insertion point in that paragraph. To format multiple paragraphs, extend the selection into at least a portion of all the paragraphs you want to format. As with other formatting, you have many options for getting the job done. To set many paragraph formatting options at once, select Paragraph from the Format menu. You can also change formatting options using toolbars and the Ruler. Turn the ruler off and on from the View menu. ruler


The gray notches on the bottom of the Ruler are the default tab stops. If you press the Tab key on your keyboard, your insertion point moves to these tab stops. You can change tab settings quickly using the Ruler, or select Tabs from the Format menu for more options. Your new tab settings will affect either the paragraph you select or new paragraphs from the insertion point forward.
To set tabs using the ruler:
  1. Use the button on the far left of the ruler to select the type of tab you want. Click this button until the type of tab you want appears:
    left tab left center tab center right tab right decimal tab decimal bar tab bar
  2. Click the Ruler where you want the tab to appear. Your new tab stop appears on the ruler, but the default tabs to the left of it are gone.
  3. Adjust a tab by dragging it to another spot on the ruler.
To set tabs using the menu:
Tab window

  1. Select Tabs from the Format menu.
  2. Type a number in the Tab Stop Position field. (The number you type is the tab's distance from the left margin.)
    Select its Alignment (left, center, right, decimal, or bar).
  3. Select a Leader if you want one. The leader helps guide the reader's eye across the page, as shown in this table of contents entry, which uses a right tab with a dotted leader:

    Chapter 3 .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . Page 54

  4. Click the Set button.
  5. Click OK to exit the Tabs dialog box after you have set all your tabs.

Word 2000: you can use Click and Type to set tab stops. Switch to Print Layout or Web Layout view. Then point to a blank line on a page, and double-click where you want the tab stop to appear.

To turn Click and Type on or off, select the Tools menu, then Options, and switch to the Edit tab. Select the checkbox at the bottom of the window next to Enable Click and Type to turn the feature on or off.

Deleting Tabs

Paragraph Indentation

You may need to set paragraph indents for a bibliography, footnotes, or résumé. You may also want the first line of every paragraph indented from the margin while the rest of the paragraph stays flush with the margin.
Setting Indents Using the Format Menu
You can set paragraph formatting options to control how far from the left and right margins a paragraph is indented. From the Format menu, select Paragraph, and click the Indents and Spacing tab. In the Indentation section, you can change the right and left indents for your paragraphs. To indent the first line of your paragraphs, select First Line from the Special field. To “outdent" the first line of a paragraph for a bibliography or footnote, select Hanging Indent from the Special field.

paragraph formatting window
Setting Indents Using the Ruler
You can also control indents with the arrows on the ruler. left indent buttonsTo change the right indent, drag the triangle on the bottom right of the ruler. The left indent has three parts. The top arrow controls the first line of the paragraph, the bottom arrow controls other lines in the paragraph, and the square under the bottom triangle controls both.
Word 2000: you can select different indents with the button on the far left of the ruler you used earlier to select different tab types. first line indent buttonTo create a first line indent (for normal paragraphs in an essay, for example), click the button until you see the first line indent button. Then click the ruler to set the indent. hanging indent button. To set a hanging indent (for bibliographies, for example), click the button until you see the hanging indent button Then click the ruler to set your hanging indent.
1999-2000 Pizza Dough Roller, Piper's Pickled Pizzas, Chapel Hill, NC. Mixed dough, rolled, tossed, shaped. Created 8, 12", and 14" inch pies in fast-paced environment to loud music.

Follow the steps below to set up an item like the example.

Please note: in this example, you're adding a list of dates to a résumé, and Word is going to try to help by adding the dates for you with its Autoformat option. You're better off without this help, so before you proceed, turn off the Automatic Numbered Lists option. To do this, select the Tools menu, Options, AutoCorrect, and then the Autoformat As You Type tab. Make sure there is not a check mark next to Automatic numbered lists, and OK your change. (For more details about Autoformat, see the ATN document, Word 97/2000: Increasing Efficiency (dww26). Now back to our story.

  1. Set a hanging indent where you want the block paragraph to be (in this example, at 1.5 inches, where Pizza appears). You can set the indent from the ruler by dragging the bottom triangle into position, by setting options in the Paragraph window (available from the Format menu), or, in Word 2000, by selecting the hanging indent button on the ruler and clicking the ruler at 1.5."

    When you set the indent, Word is ready to indent all but the first line of your paragraph. Although you don't see it, the first tab stop is also automatically moved to 1.5" from the margin.
  2. Type the date or other information you want flush with the left margin.
  3. Press Tab, and then type the succeeding lines.
    Please note: if move to the next entry by pressing Enter and Word changes the neat formatting to a colossal mess, turn off the Autoformatting toolbar as explained above and try again.


alignment buttons
To align a paragraph with the left or right margin, center it across the margins, or justify it (that is, align it with both margins), clicke of the four alignment buttons on the Formatting Toolbar. You can also use the Alignment drop down list at the top of the Indents and Spacing tab.

Word 2000: you can use Click and Type to control alignment. Switch to Print Layout or Web Layout view. Then point to a blank line on a page, and double-click in the center, left, or right. For more details, see Word 97/2000: Introduction (dww23).

Paragraph and Line Spacing

From the Indents and Spacing tab, you can set the Spacing Before and After paragraphs (measured in points). You can also set the Line spacing, including single and double, or type in an exact measurement. The keyboard shortcuts for line spacing are <Ctrl><1> for single spacing and <Ctrl><2> for double spacing.

Automatic Numbering of Paragraphs

 numbering button
To number paragraphs, use the Numbered List button on the Formatting toolbar. You can number pre-existing paragraphs by first selecting them and then clicking the button, or turn numbering on and then type new numbered paragraphs. To remove numbering, select the text and turn the Numbered List button off.

To change the type of numbers used (to Roman numerals, for example), select Bullets and Numbering from the Format menu, and click the Numbered tab. Click a numbering style to select it. To number paragraphs in an outline or other list where you need multiple levels, choose a style from the Outline Numbered tab. OK your change.

increase/decrease indent buttons
In an outline, if you want to move a paragraph from one level to another, for example, from level I, II, III to level A, B, C, select the paragraph, and then click the toolbar's Decrease Indent or Increase Indent buttons.

Bulleting Paragraphs

bullet button
Click the Toolbar's Bullets button to add bullets to a selected series of paragraphs. Use the Decrease Indent and Increase Indent buttons to create different levels within your bulleted list. To remove bullets, highlight the text and click the Bullets button again to turn it off.

To change your bullet style, select Bullets and Numbering from the Format menu, choose the Bulleted tab, and select from the options shown. You can modify the style further by clicking the Customize button. In the Customize Bulleted List dialog box, you can change the Bullet position, that is, its distance from the left margin. You can also change the Text position, that is, the distance from the text to the bullet. To choose a different bullet from a different font, such as Symbol or Wingdings, click Bullet. Make a selection, and then click OK (or Cancel). To change the formatting, including the bullet's size, click Font. Make a selection, and then click OK (or Cancel). OK your changes.

Word 2000: you can select a colorful bullet from Microsoft's Clip Gallery. In the Bullets and Numbering window, select the Picture button to see your options.


You can use the borders feature to put boxes around text, or shade the background of text. Click the Outside Border button on the Formatting toolbar to bring up border options. If you are unsure what an option does, rest your pointer arrow on it, and a yellow flag with a description appears.
border button & options

Word 2000 border options Word 2000: you have some additional border options. Use the diagonal borderline button to put diagonal lines in table cells. To insert a horizontal line across the page, select the horizontal line button.

To change the style of your borders, select Borders and Shading from the Format menu, and click the Borders tab. From here select a line style, color, and width (measured in points), and apply special effects such as Box, Shadow, or 3-D. You can also click buttons in the Preview window to add side, top, or bottom lines. Choose None to remove a border. Click Options to change the distance from the border to the text. Click the Page Border tab to apply and format borders for an entire page or a large section. Switch to the Shading tab to gray out, color, or select a pattern for the background. When using shading, be sure the text and background contrast enough for easy reading.
Borders & Shading window

Word 2000: you can select a colorful horizontal line from Microsoft's Clip Gallery. On the Borders tab, select
Horizontal Line to see your options.

Tip: You can also control border style, color, and shading with the buttons on the top row of the Tables and Borders toolbar. Turn on the toolbar by selecting Toolbars from the View menu.

Formatting Shortcuts

Right Mouse Button

As you work in Word, you can right-click on a blank page or block of text, and a shortcut menu appears from which you can select options to cut, copy, paste, change font or paragraph formatting, or apply bullets or numbering.

Keyboard Shortcuts

You can also apply character and paragraph formats by using keyboard shortcuts. Search in Word's Help for a list of "keyboard shortcuts."


Styles are sets of formatting options you can use to make your documents more consistent . With styles, you can save time by applying multiple character and paragraph formatting options in one fell swoop. For more information about styles, see the ATN Document Word 97/2000: Tables and Styles (dww29).

Word 2000 Only: Themes

You can give your document added pizzazz (online) by formatting it with a Word theme. A theme includes a combination of fonts, colors, styles, backgrounds, and bullets. Themes do not print, but may be useful for Web pages or online presentations . To apply a theme to your document, select Themes from the Format menu.

Document Formatting

Setting Margins

To set document margins, choose Page Setup from the File menu, and make any changes to the Margins tab. See Word 97/2000: Paper and Reports (dww25) for more information on fields in this tab.

Page Numbers

You can quickly add page numbers to your document by selecting Page Numbers from the Insert menu. You can choose to put page numbers at the Top of Page or at the Bottom of Page. You can also position the page numbers on the Left, Center, Right, Inside, or Outside. Inside puts the page numbers on the inside margins of facing pages. Outside put the page numbers on the outside margins of facing pages. You can also choose whether or not you want to Show number on first page.

Page Numbers window

More to Come in Papers & Reports Class and Handout

You can learn more about document formatting—including working with headers, footers, and different sections—in the Word 97/2000: Papers & Reports (dww25) class and handout. The prerequisite for Papers & Reports is Word 97/2000: Increasing Efficiency (dww24).


You can easily add an envelope to your document file. From the Tools menu, select Envelopes and Labels..., and fill in the Delivery Address and Return Address. Click the Options button for more addressing and printing options. After you make all your selections, choose Add to Document. The envelope appears at the beginning of your document and is saved along with it.

Tip: If you're planning a large mailing, use Word's merge feature to produce envelopes, labels, and form letters. Refer to the ATN document and class Word 97/2000: Merging (dww27) for details. (The prerequisite for the Merging class is Increasing Efficiency (dww26).)

Selecting a Printer

True Type symbol If your computer is set up to use more than one printer, you can switch between those printers by selecting Print from the File menu. Select your printer from the Printer Name field. The appearance of your document on-screen, the available fonts, and other options can be affected by which printer you select. For instance, a laser printer lets you use many fonts, while a dot matrix printer may allow you access to only one or two fonts. To be safe, use True Type fonts, which are available both on Laser and dot matrix printers. (The symbol "TT" appears next to True Type font names when you select them from the formatting toolbar or Font window.

What's Next?

Next in the Word series is the Word 97/2000: Increasing Efficiency (dww26) class. Once you have the skills taught in that class and handout, you can take any other classes in the Word series.


This document is a publication of Academic Technology and Networks at The University of North Carolina. It may be copied for individual or non-profit use. Please send comments about this publication to CB# 3450, 402 Hanes Hall, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599-3450. Authors: Debbie Best, Anne Carter, and Greg Robinson. Editor: Christopher Osmond. Revision date: March 20, 2001. Print date: March 20, 2001. ATN Document dww24