Create a Hanging Indent for One or More Paragraphs in Google Docs

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated September 18, 2020

Applies to: Google® Docs (Windows or Mac)

You can create a hanging indent in Google Docs using the Ruler, the Indentation Options 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 first line can be indented to the left or right of the following lines. Either way, the first line of a paragraph is indented or outdented. A hanging indent is typically used for bullets and numbering and to cite a reference.

A paragraph in Google Docs is anything with a hard return after it (you have pressed Enter or Return). If you want to create a hanging indent in a multi-line paragraph, there should not be hard returns at the end of each line of text.

Recommended article: Google Docs Shortcuts to Quickly Select Text

Creating a hanging indent using the Ruler

A common way to create a hanging indent is to use the Ruler. If the Ruler is not displayed at the top of the Google Docs document, click the View tab in the menu and select Show Ruler:

Show Ruler in Google Docs.

To create a hanging indent using the Ruler:

  1. In the Google Docs document, select the paragraph(s) you want to indent. If you are indenting only one paragraph, simply click in it.
  2. On the Ruler, drag the left indent marker (blue triangle pointing down) to the location where you want all lines except the first line to indent. The first line indent marker (blue rectangle) should move with it. They are typically stacked together and start at the left margin on the Ruler.
  3. Click and drag the first line indent marker (the rectangle) back to the left (usually to the margin). This should affect only the first line of hte paragraph.

In the following example, the two marrkers are at different locations on the Ruler:

Hanging indent set up on the Ruler in Google Docs.

Creating a hanging indent using the Indentation Options dialog box

To create a hanging indent using the Indentation Options dialog box:

  1. In the Google Docs document, select the paragraph(s) you want to indent. If you are changing only one paragraph, simply click in it.
  2. Click Format in the menu.
  3. Click Align & Indent. and then click Indentation Options. A dialog box appears.
  4. Under Special Indent, click the drop-down menu and then select Hanging.
  5. In the box beside Hanging, enter the indent amount in inches.
  6. Click Apply.

In the following example, indents have been entered for the Left and Hanging Indent in the Inswnrtation Options diaog box in inches:

Hanging indent in Google Docs in Indentaiton dialog box.

Creating a hanging indent using a keyboard shortcut

You can also create a hanging indent in Google Docs using a keyboard shortcut. Position the cursor where you want to create the hanging indent (at the end of the first line) and then press Shift + Enter or Shift + Return and then press Tab. This creates a line break or a soft return. It’s better, however, to use the two methods above to create hanging indents.

Automatic indenting

When you apply bullets or numbering, Google Docs changes the indents of the first and subsequent lines in a paragraph or paragraphs automatically.

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How to Do a Hanging Indent in Google Docs (3 Ways)
Article Name
How to Do a Hanging Indent in Google Docs (3 Ways)
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You can create a hanging indent in Google Docs using the Ruler, the Indentation Options 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 first line can be indented to the left or right of the following lines. Either way, the first line of a paragraph is indented or outdented. A hanging indent is typically used to cite a reference.
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Avantix Learning

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