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How to create a hanging indent in Microsoft Word

Author: Amanda Li Last Modified: 2024-05-16

A hanging indent, also known as a second line indent, is where the first line of a paragraph is flush with the left margin, and subsequent lines are indented.

Creating a hanging indent in Microsoft Word is a crucial skill for anyone working on academic papers, bibliographies, or reference lists where proper citation formatting is required.

This guide provides step-by-step methods to create hanging indents, making your documents look more professional and easier to read. It also includes helpful tips on how to clear hanging indents efficiently.


Video: Create a hanging indent in Word


Create a hanging indent using keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl + T)

For quick formatting without navigating through menus, keyboard shortcuts are the fastest method. This method is particularly useful for those who prefer keyboard shortcuts over mouse navigation, offering a rapid solution for applying formatting.

  1. Select one or multiple paragraphs where you want to apply the hanging indent.
  2. Press Ctrl + T. This shortcut automatically creates a hanging indent by moving all lines except the first one to the right.

Note: To clear a hanging indent, press Ctrl + Shift + T.


Do a hanging indent using the Paragraph settings

For those who want more control over the indent size and other paragraph settings, using the Paragraph dialog box is the ideal method.

  1. Select one or multiple paragraphs where you want to add a hanging indent.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Paragraph group, click on the Paragraph dialog launcher (the small arrow icon in the lower right corner).

    Tip: You can also open the Paragraph dialog by right-clicking the highlighted text and selecting Paragraph.
  3. Under Special, select Hanging. Tip: You can adjust the depth of the indent using the By field.

  4. Click OK.

Note: To clear a hanging indent, under Special in the Paragraph dialog, select None.


Add a hanging indent using the ruler in Word

For visual formatting and those who prefer a hands-on approach, using the Word ruler is an effective method. This method provides a quick visual reference, allowing for immediate adjustments and is ideal for users who are visually oriented.

  1. Ensure the ruler is visible by clicking on View and checking the Ruler box.

  2. Select one or multiple paragraphs where you want to add a hanging indent.
  3. On the ruler, drag the lower triangle (hanging indent marker) to the right to set the indent level.

Notes:

  • If you find that the entire paragraph is being indented, it's likely that you're moving the rectangle directly below the triangle (left indent marker) instead of the bottom triangle (hanging indent marker). To create a proper hanging indent, make sure to adjust only the bottom triangle.
  • To clear a hanging indent, drag the lower triangle (hanging indent marker) on the ruler to the starting position.

Above is all the relevant content related to creating a hanging indent in Microsoft Word. I hope you find the tutorial helpful. If you're looking to explore more Word tips and tricks, please click here to access our extensive collection of tutorials.

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