In this guide, you will learn how to underline text in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

There are three different ways to underline text:

  1. The underline shortcut (recommended)
  2. The underline command
  3. The Font dialog box

While these all accomplish the same task, the Font dialog box gives you the most underlining options in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. As you can see in the picture below, there are 8 underline styles in Word, 16 styles in PowerPoint, and 4 styles in Excel.

Examples of all the underline text options in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

It’s worth noting that in Microsoft Word you can underline words only. And in Word and PowerPoint, you can change the color of your underline (compared to your text)t, as pictured below.

Example of underlining words only in word and changing your underline color in PowerPoint and Word

As you can see, there are a lot of options for underlining text in the Microsoft Office Suite depending on which program you are working in. Below, I’ve broken out each one into its own section so you can navigate directly to the underline style you are trying to create.

As most of the time you will probably just want to add a single underline to your text, the shortcut is the fastest way to do this.

1. The Underline Text Shortcut

The underline text shortcut on a PC is control plus U and on a Mac is command plus U

The fastest way to underline text in the Microsoft Office Suite (or any word processing program), is Ctrl+U on a PC and Cmd+U on a Mac.

Using the shortcut once applies the underline effect. Using the shortcut a second time removes the underline effect.

Note: Ctrl+U only allows you to add a single, solid underline to your text. If you want to double underline your text, or create a dashed underline effect, you need to use the underline style options discussed below.

2. The Underline Command

The underline command gives you more options than the Ctrl+U shortcut discussed above as it includes a ‘more options’ area.

To expand your knowledge and learn how to double underline text in Word using keyboard shortcuts, read our guide here.

A. Using the Underline command

The underline command is on the Home tab in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

Another fast way to underline text in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint is to simply click the Underline command on the Home tab in the Ribbon.

Simply select the text you want to underline and click the command to add your underline. Clicking the command a second time removes the underline effect.

B. Using the Underline command style options in Word

The Underline command in Word is a two-part button. While clicking the button on the left underlines your text (discussed above), clicking the downward facing arrow on the right gives you additional line style options to choose from.

Selecting the more line style options gives you additional text underlining styles to choose from

To choose a different underline style in Word, simply select your text and then follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the Home tab
  2. Click the Underline style arrow
  3. Choose an underline style

There are a total of eight underline styles in Word you can choose from, as pictured below. To see the additional options in Excel and PowerPoint, you will need to use the Font dialog box discussed next.

Examples of the eight underlining styles in Microsoft Word

Note: If you do not select your text first, the underline style you choose will be applied to whatever text you type next. To stop underling your text, simply click the command a second time or hit Ctrl+U on your keyboard.

3. Underlining text using the Font dialog box

The font dialog box shortcut is control plus shift plus F in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

There are multiple ways to open the Font dialog box. The simplest (and fastest way) is to use the Font dialog box shortcut. This shortcut works in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, so it’s a triple dipper shortcut.

Another way to open the Font dialog box is to click the diagonal facing arrow in the corner of the Font group. Clicking this arrow accomplishes the same task.

You can open the font dialog box by clicking the home tab and then clicking the diagonal facing arrow in the Font group

As a speed training tip – although there is no difference between using the shortcut and clicking the diagonal facing arrow, as the shortcut is significantly faster, I recommend learning the Ctrl+Shift+F shortcut.

The font dialog box is where you can change the style of your underlined text and the color for your underline in Word

As you can see in the picture above, inside the Font dialog box, you can:

  1. Choose your underline style
  2. Choose your underline color

The Font dialog box is also where you can access a number of other text effects like strikethrough, double strikethrough, etc. As you will see in the next section, the Font dialog box is also the trick to underlining words only in Microsoft Word.

To expand your knowledge and learn the strikethrough shortcut to quickly cross out text in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, read our guide here.

How to Underline Words Only in Word

Microsoft Word includes the ability to underline words only. This means that you do not need to select the words individually and apply the underline to create the desired effect.

To underling your words only in Microsoft Word, select your text, hit control plus shift plus F and within the font dialog box select Words only for the underline style

To underline your words only in Word, simply:

  1. Select your text
  2. Open the Font dialog box (Ctrl+Shift+F)
  3. Open the Underline style options
  4. Select Words Only
  5. Click OK

Doing so creates the ‘underline words only’ effect, without you having to manually do it yourself. You can also change the color of your underlines as you will see in the next section.

Note: This Words Only underline option does not exist in PowerPoint or Excel. If you want to create the same effect in these programs, you will need to underline your words individually, or take a screenshot of your text in Word and use it in the other programs.

How to Change the Color of Your Underlined Text

In Word and PowerPoint, you can also choose an underline color that is different from your text. This does not work in Microsoft Excel.

In Word and PowerPoint you can use the font dialog box to change the color of your underlined text

To change the color of your underlined text, simply:

  1. Select your text
  2. Open the Font dialog box (Ctrl+Shift+F)
  3. Open the Underline color options
  4. Choose an underline color (I picked red)
  5. Click OK

When picking an underline color that is different than your font color, it is best not to pick colors that are hard to read. See some examples below.

Examples of clashing colors that are hard to read

If your font is black, you can use almost any color for your underline. To make your document look more professional, I recommend picking an underline color that complements your logo or other design elements within your document.

Conclusion

Those are the different ways to underline text in the Microsoft Office Suite.

For most of your underlining text needs, I recommend learning and using the Ctrl+U keyboard shortcut. It’s faster than the other methods discussed above but does not provide the extra options like changing the underline color or underlining words only.

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