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How to format Notes for the iPhone and iPad

Notes app on iPad Air 4 with the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil 2
Notes app on iPad Air 4 with the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil 2 (Image credit: iMore)

If you need to jot down a quick note to yourself to remember later, it's hard to beat the built-in iOS Notes app on your current iPhone and iPad. I mean, it's already on your device and it's pretty quick to start a new note, especially with the Quick Note feature on iPadOS 15. But sometimes you're going to need more than just plain text. In fact, you'll want to make use of the various formatting tools that are in the Notes app to bold, italicize, and underline your text, but you can also do so much more than that. Did you know the Notes app supports lists, checklists, and even data tables? No matter what you need, the Notes app has you covered!

Here's how to format all of your Notes on your best iPhone and iPad with iOS 15.

How to create titles and headings in Notes

You can easily add titles and headings to your notes to give them a more formal style and make everything easier to organize.

  1. Launch Notes on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap the New Note button in the bottom right corner.
  3. Tap the Aa icon, which opens the text formatting menu.

Create titles and headings in Notes on iPhone and iPad by showing steps: Launch Notes, tap New Note, tap the Aa button for formatting (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap Title for the next text you type will be formatted as a title.
  2. Tap Heading for the next text you type will be formatted as a heading.
  3. Double-tap a single word or triple-tap to select all text that you want to reformat as a title or heading, then follow steps 4-5 to reformat it.

Create titles and headings in Notes on iPhone and iPad by showing steps: Tap Title, Tap Heading, select text you want to make either title or heading and apply formatting (Image credit: iMore)

If you use a title or heading in a note, pressing the return key on your iPhone or iPad's keyboard will automatically format new text after that point as "body" text. So, if you want to go from, for instance, a title to a heading, remember that you'll need to choose the Heading format from the formatting menu.

How to automatically start new notes with a title or heading

Of course, you can automatically begin each new note with a title or heading if you wish.

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap Notes.

Automatically start new notes with a title or heading on Notes on iPhone or iPad by showing steps: Launch Settings, tap Notes (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap New Notes Start With.
  2. Choose between Title, Heading, Subheading, or Body.

Automatically start new notes with a title or heading in Notes on iPhone and iPad by showing steps: Tap New Notes Start With, and then tap Title, Heading, or Body (Image credit: iMore)

How to format lists in notes

In Notes, you can choose from three different types of lists to keep everything in order.

  1. Launch Notes on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap the New Note button in the bottom right corner.
  3. Tap the Aa icon, which opens the text formatting menu.

Create titles and headings in Notes on iPhone and iPad by showing steps: Launch Notes, tap New Note, tap the Aa button for formatting (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap on the list format you'd like to use. Choose from either dashed, numbered, or bulleted.
  2. Type out your list.

Format lists in Notes on iPhone and iPad by showing steps: Choose from dashed list, numbered list, or bullet point list (Image credit: iMore)

How to bold, italicize, underline, and apply strikethrough in Notes

Emphasize the text of your notes by bolding, italicizing, or underlining it.

  1. Launch Notes on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap an existing note, or Create New Note.

Apply formatting to text in Notes on iPhone and iPad by showing steps: Launch Notes, tap New Note or select existing note (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap on the empty space or select text that you wish to change by double-tapping or tapping and holding.
  2. Tap the right arrow in the pop-up menu.
  3. Tap the B I U icon in the pop-up.
  4. Tap either Bold, Italic, Underline, or Strikethrough to format your text the way you want.

Apply bold, italics, underline, or strikethrough in Notes on iPhone and iPad by showing steps: Select text, tap right arrow on pop-up, tap BIU button, tap preferred formatting (Image credit: iMore)
  1. If you're starting new text but want it to emphasize what you're about to type from that point forward, just tap the Aa button above the keyboard.
  2. Tap your preferred format style.

Apply bold, italics, underline, and strikethrough to text in Notes on iPhone and iPad by showing steps: Tap the Aa button while typing, then choose your format preference (Image credit: iMore)

How to create a checklist in Notes

Create a quick shopping or to-do list with the checklist format.

  1. Launch Notes on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap the New Note button in the bottom right corner.

Apply formatting to text in Notes on iPhone and iPad by showing steps: Launch Notes, tap New Note or select existing note (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap the checklist icon to create a checklist entry.
  2. Tap return once to create another entry.
  3. Double-tap return when you're done making your checklist to start using standard body text.
  4. Tap the checklist bullet point to check it off. Tap it again to uncheck the item.

Create a checklist in Notes on iPhone and iPad by showing steps: Tap the checkmark button, type in text, tap return on keyboard to add another line to the checklist or tap return twice to exit, tap ci (Image credit: iMore)

How to add a table to a note

Tables is one of the more recent additions to the Notes app. It allows you to format data in your note so that it is easier to read.

  1. Launch Notes on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap the New Note button in the bottom right corner or enter an existing note.

Apply formatting to text in Notes on iPhone and iPad by showing steps: Launch Notes, tap New Note or select existing note (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap the table button in the formatting bar.
  2. Tap the More buttons on either the top or the side of one of the left-most cells (buttons look like three dots). The top More button controls columns, while the side More button controls rows.

Add a table to Notes on iPhone and iPad by showing steps: Tap Table, then tap the "More" dots on the top or left of the table (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Choose Add Column or Delete Column from the top More button to add or delete a column.
  2. Choose Add Row or Delete Row from the side More button to add or delete a row.

Add a table to Notes on iPhone and iPad by showing steps: Tap the More dots on columns or rows to add or delete columns or rows (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Enter your data into the table.
  2. Tap the table button again to bring up several options you can take for the table object.

Add a table to a note in Notes on iPhone and iPad by showing steps: Tap the Tables icon in the toolbar to bring up different actions to take on the table (Image credit: iMore)

As you can see, it's pretty easy to add a table to one of your notes and you can even adjust the number of cells as you see fit. For a more in-depth look at how tables work, check our full guide on how to use tables in Notes.

Add some pizazz to your notes

The Notes app is incredibly handy for jotting down whatever you need to reference later. But sometimes you're going to need a little bit more than just plain text. Sprucing up your notes with rich formatting is easy in the Notes app, so feel free to get fancy!

Updated March 2022: Updated for iOS 15.

Christine Chan
Senior Editor

Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently the iMore lead on all things iPhone, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.

When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.