How to Indent Second Line in Google Docs: A Step-by-Step Guide

Indenting the second line in Google Docs is a simple task. First, highlight the text you want to indent. Then, go to the ruler at the top of the page and drag the left indent marker (the small blue triangle) to the right for the desired indent length. This will create a hanging indent, where the second line and every line after that in the paragraph is indented.

After completing this action, the selected text will have a hanging indent. This means that every line after the first in the paragraph will be indented, creating a clean and professional look, especially for citations or bibliographies.


Indenting the second line in Google Docs might seem like a minor detail, but it’s an essential skill for anyone who wants to create professional-looking documents. Whether you’re a student writing a research paper, a business professional preparing a report, or an author working on your manuscript, understanding how to format your document correctly will make it more readable and visually appealing.

But why is this tiny formatting detail so important? Well, for starters, it sets apart different paragraphs or sections, making the text easier to navigate. More importantly, in academic writing, it’s often a requirement for citing sources. Known as a hanging indent, this formatting style is used in various citation styles, including APA, MLA, and Chicago. Mastering this skill means you can avoid the frustration of formatting errors and the potential embarrassment of a poorly presented document. So whether you’re a Google Docs newbie or just need a quick refresher, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of creating that perfect indent.

Step by Step Tutorial: Indenting the Second Line in Google Docs

The following steps will guide you through the process of creating a hanging indent, which will indent the second line and all subsequent lines of a paragraph.

Step 1: Highlight the text

Start by highlighting the text you want to indent.

Once you have highlighted the text, make sure the formatting toolbar is visible at the top of your document. If it’s not, click on ‘View’ and then ‘Show ruler’ to make it appear.

Step 2: Adjust the left indent marker

Drag the left indent marker on the ruler to the right.

The left indent marker is the small blue triangle on the ruler. You’ll notice that there’s a small blue rectangle above it – that’s the first line indent marker. Be careful not to drag this one, as it will only indent the first line, not the second.

Step 3: Fine-tune the indent

If you need a specific indent size, use the ruler’s measurements to adjust precisely.

For most academic formatting, a half-inch indent is standard. You can check the ruler to ensure your indent is correct.


Professional appearanceIndenting the second line of your paragraphs can make your document look more polished and professional. It’s a small detail that can have a significant impact on the overall look of your text.
ClarityFor documents that require citations, such as research papers, using a hanging indent helps to clearly differentiate the citation from the rest of the text, making it easier for readers to follow.
Easy to adjustOnce you’ve learned how to indent the second line, it’s an easy process to replicate throughout your document. You can even use the ‘Paint Format’ tool to quickly apply the same formatting to other sections.


Learning curveIf you’re new to Google Docs or have never had to create a hanging indent before, there might be a slight learning curve. However, once you’ve mastered the steps, it’s straightforward to do.
Ruler visibilitySome users might not have the ruler displayed by default, which is necessary for creating indents. They’ll need to learn how to make the ruler visible, adding an extra step to the process.
Limited to Google DocsThis method is specific to Google Docs. If you’re using a different word processor, the steps might be different, which could be confusing for users who frequently switch between applications.

Additional Information

Creating a hanging indent in Google Docs is a useful skill that can help enhance the readability and professionalism of your document. While the steps are straightforward, there are a few additional things to keep in mind. First, if you are working with a template or a document with predetermined formatting, you may need to double-check that your indents align with the overall style.

Another tip is to use keyboard shortcuts for efficiency. You can select text and press “Ctrl + ]” to increase indentation or “Ctrl + [” to decrease it. However, this will indent the entire paragraph, so you’ll need to use the ruler for hanging indents specifically.

Remember that consistency is key when indenting paragraphs. Make sure all your indents are the same size throughout your document to maintain a uniform look. And lastly, if you’re collaborating on a document, it’s a good idea to communicate with your team members about formatting preferences to ensure everyone is on the same page.


  1. Highlight the text you want to indent.
  2. Drag the left indent marker on the ruler to create the indent.
  3. Use the ruler’s measurements to adjust the indent to the desired size.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a hanging indent?

A hanging indent is when the first line of a paragraph is not indented, but all subsequent lines are. This format is often used for bibliographies and reference lists.

Can I create a hanging indent using keyboard shortcuts?

While you can adjust indentation levels with keyboard shortcuts, creating a hanging indent specifically requires using the ruler to adjust the indent markers.

How do I make the ruler visible in Google Docs?

If the ruler is not visible at the top of your Google Docs page, click on ‘View’ in the top menu and then select ‘Show ruler.’

What’s the standard size for a hanging indent?

The standard size for a hanging indent is typically half an inch.

Can I apply a hanging indent to multiple paragraphs at once?

Yes, you can apply a hanging indent to multiple paragraphs by highlighting all the text you want to indent before adjusting the indent markers.


Mastering the art of indenting the second line in Google Docs is a valuable skill that can elevate the quality of your documents. It’s not just about making your text look pretty; it’s about adhering to academic standards, enhancing readability, and ensuring consistency across your written work. With the step-by-step guide we’ve gone through, you’re now equipped to create professional and polished documents with ease.

Remember, while it might take a little practice to get the hang of it, once you’ve got it down, it’ll be like riding a bike – you’ll never forget how to do it. And if you ever find yourself stuck, come back to this article for a quick refresher. Now go on, give your documents the formatting finesse they deserve!

Get Our Free Newsletter

How-to guides and tech deals

You may opt out at any time.
Read our Privacy Policy