How to format Notes for the iPhone and iPad

Don't just take Notes... take them with style!

With the Notes app for iPhone and iPad, you've now got the option to bold, italicize or underline text and quick options for creating titles and headings. You can also create numbered or dashed lists (as well as interactive checklists, which we've covered over here) for all your note taking needs.

How to create titles and headings in Notes

The best way to start a new note is with a good Titles and Headings. First, we'll start with a new note:

  1. Launch Notes from your Home screen.
  2. Tap the New Note button in the bottom right corner.
  3. Tap on the white space to bring up the keyboard.
  4. Tap Show tool bar (looks like a + at the top right of the keyboard) to show the full set of tools. (iPhone only.)

  5. Type some text that you want to format. Tap and hold on the text and use the highligher tool to select the text you want to turn into a title/heading.

  6. Tap the Aa icon, which opens the text formatting menu.
  7. Tap Title to convert the text into a title.
  8. Tap Heading to convert the text into a sub-heading.

If you want to convert text to a Title or Heading, select the text that you want to format and tap the style you wish to use. You can continue to add text to the line with Title or Heading formatting, but if you tap return, the next line of text will revert back to the body text format.

How to automatically start new notes with a title

  1. From the home screen, tap Settings.
  2. Scroll down and tap on Notes.
  3. Tap to change whether your new notes start with title, heading or body text.

Tap settings, tap notes then tap to change how new notes start.

How to format lists in notes

In the same menu as the Titles and Headings are options for lists. You've got the option of creating a numbered or dashed list.

  1. Tap Show tool bar (looks like a + at the top right of the keyboard) to show the full set of tools. (iPhone only.)
  2. Type some text that you want to format into a list. For the sake of this demonstration, type out a quick list of items on different lines.
  3. Tap and hold on the text, then tap select all.

  4. Tap the Aa icon, which opens the text formatting menu

    • Tap Numbered List to convert the selected text into a numbered list. Each line will now be converted into an entry in the list.
    • Tap Bulleted List to convert the selected text into bullet points.
    • Tap Dashed List to convert the selected text into a dashed list. Essentially the same as the Bulleted list, simply a matter of style.

How to bold, italicize and underline in Notes

You can also emphasize important parts of a note with bold, italicize and underline formatting. This feature was added to Notes with iOS 8, and it looks great.

  1. Select the text you want to alter by tapping twice, or doing a long tap and then tapping select from the popup menu.
  2. With the text selected, you'll see the black pop up menu. Depending on the phone you're using, you'll either see the bold, italics and underline options (B I U) right away, or you'll have to tap the white arrow to expand the menu.
  3. Tap B I U to bring up the three options and tap either Bold, Italics or Underline.

You can also toggle bold and underline for titles, but not italics. Titles and headings are bolded by default, so tapping Bold removes the bolding. It does not, however, affect the font size. Since Apple hasn't included a way of changing font sizes just yet, this is a quick workaround to get a bigger font size if you'd like.

Underlining also works well with titles and headings, for those times where you really want to emphasize something.

How to create a checklist in Notes

We'll start a new note for this guide, but you can also go in and add checklist items to any existing note on your phone.

  1. Launch Notes from your Home screen.
  2. Tap the New Note button in the bottom right corner.
  3. Tap the white space to bring up the keyboard.
  4. Tap the grey circle with the plus sign to reveal the toolbar.


  5. Tap the checklist icon to create a checklist entry.

  6. Tap return once to create another entry.
  7. Tap return again to convert the format back to standard body text. Or tap the checkmark icon again to remove the checklist format for that entry.
  8. Tap the checklist bullet point to check it off. Tap it again to uncheck the item.
  9. TIP: You can select multiple lines of text and tap the Checklist button to turn each line into an item on the checklist.

NOTE: While the interactive buttons on the checklist items works in the Notes app, if you wish to share the note via text or email, the checkboxes are converted to bullet points.

Notes checklists vs Reminders app

Checklists in Notes might sound like task lists in Reminders, but they're different and are meant to be used differently. Reminders lets you set time- or location-based alerts for your list items and integrates with Calendar and Siri. It's best used for tasks like "pick up the dry cleaning when you leave the office" or "remind me of this at 5 pm".

Checklists, on the other hand, let you keep track of items within the context of your note, but with no functionality beyond the note. It's best for things like a packing lists alongside places you want to go on your trip, or a party list alongside theme ideas.

In other words, if you want to be alerted about something, use Reminders. If you simply want to jot down a list, use Notes.

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