June 1, 2015

There's one thing that so many people want to be able to do on Instagram but that seems like a sneaky trick that only a few people know how to really do. And that is the ability to format Instagram captions with spacing, symbols, and line breaks to make the content look more appealing.

It's actually kinda funny because as an Android user, I was originally surprised when so many people indicated they couldn't do this. Yes, us Android users actually have an advantage over the iPhone users when it comes to text formatting on Instagram! But even then, there are some additional tricks to make sure you get the right formatting.

It's also worth pointing out that the formatting tips I'm talking about here apply to post captions and your Instagram bio. They work the same way. You cannot format your post comments - whether subsequent comments on your own post or post comments on someone else's content.

So, first of all, for the Android users, to add spacing between lines, simply use the "return" key to drop down a line or two. Two will leave a line space between paragraphs. It is important to point out, however, that you MUST hit the return key immediately after the last letter, symbol, or character at the end of the paragraph. If you put a space after the last character then hit the return key, you won't get the drop down effect you wanted with the return key.

It really is this easy for Android users to add spacing. You can also add symbols or special characters to new lines or between paragraphs to break up the content or add effects to the text.

Now, for the iOS users, it's slightly more tricky for you to add the spacing. Honestly, the most effective way for you to have well formatted Instagram captions is to create your caption in a Note (or other app or tool) putting in the spacing and formatting you want. Then copy the caption, open Instagram and go through the upload process, pasting the caption into the Instagram upload stage. This will maintain your formatting.

However, as I mentioned above for the Android users, make sure you don't have any spaces after the last character of the line or paragraph when you drop down or you'll lose the spacing after upload.

If you choose to write your post captions (or bio) within Instagram on your iOS device, there is a sneaky trick that the wonderful ladies at Social Studio recommend. The trick that they have found is to hit the "return" key FIVE times after the end of the paragraph or line in order to put in a line break. Why this is the magic number is unknown but may be worth experimenting with.

If you like the big black bars that a lot of people use, try copying the text from someone who is currently using them and then pasting this into your Note app to save for later. You may be able to copy the text or you may have to copy the Instagram post URL (use the three-dot button to find this option). Once you've saved the black line into your Notes you can reuse it over and over in future post captions you write.

Yes, these steps to add formatting (especially for iPhone users) is tedious and adds numerous extra steps to writing your post captions. You may not think it's worth it. But when you're scrolling through Instagram and seeing all these well formatted captions that really stand out, convey a clear message to the reader, and make you stop and read, think about that value to you as a marketer. If you're using Instagram for your business, taking those few extra minutes or few extra steps can make a huge difference in the impact you have with your audience on Instagram.

I also have to point out that, while I give you these tips here, there are going to be times where Instagram pulls a fast one on you and disregards your hard work at spacing. One line won't drop down, you don't get the paragraph break you thought you wanted, or two lines stay as one. It happens. To all of us. And seemingly without reason. Just follow the steps above as diligently as possible to minimize these occurrences.

Also, if you want to, after you've uploaded your Instagram post, you can edit your post caption. Click on the three-dot button and choose "Edit". You can fix typos or add or delete content from your caption. You can also try to clean up hidden spacing or add more spacing with this edit function - although, I've rarely had it fix spacing like I wanted it to. 🙁

Do you have any sneaky tips to improve the spacing or formatting on your Instagram captions? Feel free to leave your tips in the comments below!

UPDATE 1/21/19: Instagram has made changes to the bios and now cuts off the bio descriptions with a "... more" after just a couple lines of text. For more information on strategically formatting your bio, check out this post.

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Three words: Evernote, copy/paste. In other words, I cheat as much as possible. 😉

    Seriously, I plan the vast majority of my IG posts – so I write them in Evernote, down to the formatting & hashtags. When I’m ready to make my post, I copy the Evernote text, and paste it into the IG field, then edit in any emoji. It works on both my Android phone and my iPad. And it’s so much easier than struggling to format a post when my kids are pulling on me or I have something else going on.

    1. Great tip, Krista!! And I love that you plan out your Instagram posts so strategically 🙂

  2. I also use Evernote and the Note app in my iPhone. I highly recommend using an Emoji app that will allow you different characters such as the big black bar that you see on other people’s captions. It’s very useful!

  3. Hi Jenn,

    The return key is readily available in the iOS app. Simply press the ‘123’ key and it’s right there on the right. Simply press it twice and you have yourself a nice line break without any need to go into other apps.

    -Ben

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