Posted by: glasskeys | 10/18/2011

How to apply bold, underline, and italics to email text in iOS 5.

(To view a larger image with a more detailed description tap or click a thumbnail.)

Due to popular demand, iOS 5 has greatly improved email text formatting and now permits the user to apply bold, italics and underlining to messages.

As with many things tablet oriented, use the tried and true tap and hold technique on a word or text to show selection options. Immediately after selecting the desired text for formatting, tap the ▶ (right triangle) button in the floating menu to see more options. A button with the caption of “BIU” will be visible, tap this button and finally three formatting buttons – Bold, Italics, and Underline will be available for use.

Tapping one of these buttons will immediately change the style of the selected text to match. Consult the screenshots above to see a step-by-step walk-through of this process in action.

UPDATE 2012-03-01 – Consult this post if you need to send emails from your iPad with different foreground or background colours.

(If you like this post +1 it!)


  1. My problem is that it wont’ turn off. After I move on from the selected word which I bolded, the bold continues to be applied to all following words, when I don’t want it to. Why doesn’t it automatically turn off after I finish with selected words? Is that a flaw in my iphone or does everyone experience this? Would like to hear from others.

    • Please let me know if you have ever figured out how to turn off Bold when finished using. Tapping the next empty space doesn’t work and unless I delete the Bold word, all the following words remain in bold text. Thanks for any help you can give! I use iPad IOS6.

  2. It is best to type your text first, then go back and bold and italicize only those words you want to emphasize. If you bold-as-you-go, then you can select the text to be unbolded and apply the same approach and it will remove the bold.

  3. I don’t get an arrow when I select text. Only copy, define, speak. I have iOS 5.1.1. And aol email. Any help would be appreciated.

  4. This site doesn’t display properly on my blackberry – you might want to try and fix that

  5. Still don’t know how to disable italics,etc. once they are turned on. Someone out there must know. HELP!

    • Madeline, select the words you don’t want italisized and repeat the process for that word(s) it will “toggle” italics off.
      Kind regards,

    • I am in the same boat..I want to bold, underline as I type……Is this possible? I cannot get these functions to turn off!

  6. No it won’t! It is so frustrating…when you go to untoggle “quote level” comes up instead. I’m talking about the iPad.

    • I’ve figured it out. If you want to change back and forth as you type, you have to hold your finger on the word you type after you’ve changed back from BIU. As “Charcoal” suggested it’s probably easiest to do your BIUing after you’ve typed the page.

  7. Hi. How to highlight sentences in gmail on iPad air please

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