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Formatting Text

You can enhance the format of the text in your message to make it more attractive, to make it easier to read, or to add emphasis. Any formatting you do transfers to the recipient with the message if the recipient has Outlook or another e-mail client that can work with HTML or Rich Text Format messages. However, if the recipient doesn't have an e-mail client that can handle these special message formats, formatting might not transfer and the message will be received in plain text.

You format text in two ways. You can format the text after you type it by selecting it format of the text and then choosing a font, size, or other attribute; or you can select the font, size, or other attribute to toggle it on, and then enter the text, which will be formatted as you type.


Rich Text Format A special e-mail format developed by Microsoft for use with Microsoft mail systems. Outlook can send and receive messages in Rich Text Format. This enables you to send and receive messages with special formatting, such as bold, italic, various fonts, and other special characters and graphics.

To format the text in your message, first make sure the Formatting toolbar is showing. On the menu system provided by the message window, select View, and then select Toolbars and click Formatting. Figure 3.3 shows a message with the Formatting toolbar displayed. Formatting options have also been applied to the text in the message. Table 3.1 explains the buttons found on the Formatting toolbar.


The Formatting Toolbar Buttons Don't Work Only messages sent in HTML or Rich Text Format can be formatted. Plain-text messages don't supply you with any formatting options. So, even if the Formatting toolbar appears at the top of a plain-text message, the formatting options will not be available. Selecting the message type (such as HTML or plain text) is discussed in the section "Selecting the E-Mail Message Format," found later in this lesson.

Figure 3.3 Use the Formatting toolbar to modify format of the textyour message text.

Table 3.1 Formatting Toolbar Buttons



Font Color



Underlineformat of the text

Align Left


Align Right



Decrease Indent

Increase Indent

Insert Horizontal Line


My Toolbars Look Completely Different! If you are using Microsoft Word as your e-mail editor, the toolbars that are present in the new message window reflect those you have selected in your Word installation. The Word and Outlook toolbars have many of the same buttons.

  1. To apply a new font to format of the textselected text, on the Formatting toolbar, click the down arrow in the Font box. Scroll through the font list, if necessary, to view all fonts on the system, and then click the font you want to apply to the text. You can also apply a style to selected text in the message. On the Formatting toolbar, click the Style drop-down arrow. The styles available range from a set of predefined heading styles to special styles such as Numbered list and Bulleted list.

  2. Assign a size by clicking the down arrow beside the Font Size drop-down list and choosing the size; alternatively, you can type a size into the Font Size text box.

  3. To choose a color, click the Color button and select a color from the palette box that appears.

  4. Choose a type style to apply to text by clicking the Bold, Italic, and/or Underline buttons on the Formatting toolbar.

  5. Choose an alignment by selecting the Align Left, Center, or Align Right button from the Formatting toolbar.

  6. Add bullets to a list by clicking the Bullets button on the Formatting toolbar. If youformat of the text prefer a numbered list, click the Numbering button.

  7. Create text indents or remove indents in half-inch increments by clicking the Increase Indent or Decrease Indent buttons. (Each time you click the Indent button, the indent changes by one-half inch.)

  8. If you want to divide the text in the message using a horizontal line, place the insertion point at the appropriate place in the format of the texttext and then click the Add Horizontal Line button.

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Last Update: November 17, 2020