How to Format Slack Messages

Learn markdown formatting to clearly communicate complex data

Popular messaging and collaboration app, Slack offers a WYSIWYG method of formatting your messages. That way, you can easily add bold, italic, and other features to the text you're typing. It's ideal if you need to add emphasis to a word but you can also use it to include links or pieces of code. Slack also offers a form of markdown formatting allowing you to complete more complex tweaks via one of the oldest methods of text formatting that the internet offers, but it can be a little trickier to master. 

If you don't know where to start when adding formatting to your messages, or you're keen to learn more, here's how to use the WYSIWYG editor as well as markdown formatting in Slack. 

How to Format Messages With the Slack WYSIWYG Editor

Using the Slack WYSIWYG editor is one of the simplest ways of adding formatting to your messages. It's seen as the standard form of Slack message formatting now and is an ideal starting point. Here's how to format messages in Slack with the visual editor.

  1. Open your Slack workspace. 

  2. Type a message in the chat bar.

    Slack with the chat bar highlighted
  3. Highlight a word or sentence that you want to format.

    Slack app with a word highlighted in the chat bar
  4. Click one of the formatting buttons underneath the chat bar. 

    Slack app with the formatting options highlighted - Bold, Italic, Strikethrough, and Code

    From left to right, the buttons represent Bold, Italic, Strikethrough and a Code Snippet

  5. Click Send Message or tap the return key to send the message. 

How to Add Links to Your Messages in Slack

Adding a link to your text on Slack is very simple but it involves an extra step or two compared to simply switching to bold or italic text. Here's what to do.

  1. Type your message into the chat bar.

  2. Highlight the word you want to attach the link to.

  3. Click Link.

    Slack app with the Link formatting option highlighted
  4. Enter the link address.

    Slack app with the Add Link dialog displayed

    Copying and pasting the address from your browser will save you effort.

  5. Click Save.

    Slack app with Add Link highlighted and Save box displayed
  6. Click Send Message or tap the return key to send the message. 

How to Format a List on Slack

If you want to send your teammates a list—whether ordered or bullet point based—you can easily do so at the tap of a button. It's great for when you want to order some thoughts or plans. Here's how to do it.

  1. Click the Ordered List or Bulleted List button on the chat bar.

    Slack app with the ordered and bulleted list options highlighted
  2. In the chat bar, type as you normally would to create the list.

  3. Hold Shift + Return to create a new entry on the list.

    Don't tap Return as that will send the message.

  4. Press Return to send the completed list.

How to Format Slack Messages With Markdown Formatting

The Slack WYSIWYG visual editor is great for those less technically proficient or that prefer clicking buttons, but Slack also utilizes a form of Markdown formatting so you can add formatting to messages through keyboard commands. Here's everything you need to know about Slack text formatting. 

Technically, Slack markdown is actually called markup although it's the same concept. If you see anything in Slack's interface that calls it markup, don't worry. It's the same thing. 

  • To make a word bold. Surround it with asterisks: *your text*
  • To add italics. Surround the word with underscores: _your text_
  • To add a strikethrough effect to your sentence or word. Add tildes around it: ~your text~
  • To include in-line code in your sentence. Use the backtick or left quote symbol: `your text`
  • To add a block quote to your text. Begin with an angled bracket: >This is a quote
  • To create a list. Either start your message with 1, 1. or begin it with a bullet point by typing an asterisk: *
  • To create a link within your sentence. Type <your link|The text for the link>