Insert a Hanging Indent in Microsoft Word
by Avantix Learning Team | Updated September 12, 2020
Applies to: Microsoft® Word® 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 and 365 (Windows)
You can create a hanging or first line indent in Microsoft Word using the Ruler, the Paragraph dialog box or a keyboard shortcut. A hanging indent is created when the first line of a paragraph is at a location to the left of the subsequent lines in the paragraph. The term is often used to refer to a first line indent. Either way, the first line of a paragraph is indented or outdented. A hanging indent is typically used for bullets and numbering or to cite a reference.
Recommended article: How to Keep Text Together in Microsoft Word
A paragraph in Word is anything with a hard return after it (you have pressed Enter or Return). If you want to create a hanging or first line indent in a multi-line paragraph, there should not be hard returns at the end of each line of text.
To view hard returns or paragraph marks and other non-printing characters in Microsoft Word:
- Click the Home tab in the Ribbon.
- Click Show/Hide ¶ in the Paragraph group. Paragraph marks, tabs, spacing and manual page breaks will display but will not print.
Creating a hanging or first line indent using the Ruler
A common way to create a hanging or first line indent is to use the Ruler. If the Ruler is not displayed at the top of the document, click the View tab in the Ribbon and select the Ruler checkbox.
To create a hanging or first line indent using the Ruler:
- Select the paragraph(s) you want to indent. If you are changing only one paragraph, simply click in it.
- On the Ruler, drag the First Line Indent marker (top triangular marker) to the position where you want the first line of text in the selected paragraph(s) to start.
- Drag the bottom triangular marker to the position where you want the second line and all subsequent lines in the selected paragraph(s) to start (the box below will move with it).
- If you want the triangular markers to move at the same time, drag the box below the bottom marker. If the top and bottom markers are at the same location, this is called a nested indent.
In the following examples, the first line indent marker and the left indent marker are at different locations on the Ruler:
Creating a hanging or first line indent using the Paragraph dialog box
To create a hanging or first line indent using the Paragraph dialog box:
- Select the paragraph(s) you want to indent.
- Click the Home tab in the Ribbon.
- Click the dialog box launcher on the bottom right of the Paragraph group. The Paragraph dialog box appears.
- Enter the desired amount for the left indent (which will affect all lines in the paragraph except the first one (enter in inches or centimeters depending on your measurement system units).
- Under Special, select Hanging or First Line from the drop-down menu and then in the By box, enter the desired amount for the hanging indent.
- Click OK.
In the following example, indents have been entered for the Left and First Line in the Paragraph diaog box (in this case, entered in inches):
Creating a hanging or first line indent using a keyboard shortcut
You can press Ctrl + T to apply a hanging indent to a paragraph. This shortcut will move all lines except the first one to the next tab stop. If there are no user-defined tab stops in the paragraph, Word indents to the first default tab stop. If you keep pressing Ctrl + T, Word will keep indenting by tab stop to the right.
Press Ctrl + Shift + T to decrease or remove the indent (move to the left).
If you click at the beginning of a paragraph and press Tab, Word will indent the first line to the first user-defined tab stop or the first default tab stop.
Other ways to indent paragraphs
When you apply bullets or numbering, Microsoft Word changes the indents of the first and subsequent lines in a paragraph or paragraphs automatically.
If you are comfortable using styles in Word, you can apply, modify or create styles that include hanging or first line indents. If you are working on a long document with a lot of indented paragraphs, this is the best approach.
Did you find this article helpful? If you would like to receive new articles, join our email list.
Recommended Microsoft Office courses
Our instructor-led classroom courses are delivered at our downtown Toronto location at 1 Yonge Street, Suite 1801 (Toronto Star Building), Toronto, Ontario, Canada (some courses may also be delivered at an alternate downtown Toronto location). Contact us if you’d like to arrange custom training at your office on a date that’s convenient for you.
To request this page in an alternate format, contact us.
Copyright 2020 Avantix® Learning
You may also like
You can show or hide paragraph marks and other formatting symbols (such as tabs, spaces and soft returns) in your Microsoft Word documents using the Ribbon or a keyboard shortcut.
If you want to stop paragraphs from breaking across pages in a Microsoft Word document, it’s best to use the Keep with next or Keep lines together paragraph formats rather than inserting manual page breaks …
You can insert today’s date into a Word document as a static date or as a dynamic date field that updates when a document is opened or printed. Word picks up the current date from the system date and the default formatting from your computer’s regional settings.
Microsoft, the Microsoft logo, Microsoft Office and related Microsoft applications and logos are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in Canada, US and other countries. All other trademarks are the property of the registered owners.
Avantix Learning | 1 Yonge Street, Suite 1801 (Toronto Star Building), Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5E 1W7 | firstname.lastname@example.org