How to Add Hanging Indent in Word: A Step-by-Step Guide

Adding a hanging indent in Word is simpler than you might think. All you need to do is select the text you want to format, go to the ‘Paragraph’ settings, and adjust the ‘Special’ dropdown menu to ‘Hanging.’ This quick overview should give you a basic idea of how to achieve a hanging indent, but let’s dive into the details with a step-by-step tutorial.

Step by Step Tutorial for Adding a Hanging Indent in Word

Before we jump into the steps, let’s clarify what we’re about to do. A hanging indent is a type of paragraph formatting where the first line of the paragraph is not indented, but all subsequent lines are. This is commonly used in bibliographies and reference lists. Follow these steps, and you’ll have your hanging indent in no time.

Step 1: Highlight the Text

Select the text you want to format with a hanging indent.

When you highlight the text, make sure you include all the lines you want to have the hanging indent. This could be a single paragraph or multiple paragraphs.

Step 2: Navigate to the Paragraph Settings

Right-click on the highlighted text and choose ‘Paragraph’ from the context menu.

You can also access the paragraph settings by going to the ‘Layout’ or ‘Page Layout’ tab in the ribbon and clicking on the small arrow in the bottom right corner of the ‘Paragraph’ group.

Step 3: Adjust the Special Dropdown Menu

In the ‘Paragraph’ dialog box, look for the ‘Indentation’ section. Click on the ‘Special’ dropdown menu and select ‘Hanging.’

The ‘Special’ dropdown menu is located right under the ‘Indentation’ heading. Once you select ‘Hanging,’ another field will become active where you can specify the depth of the indent.

Step 4: Set the Indent Size

Specify how deep you want the hanging indent to be in the ‘By’ field. The default is usually 0.5 inches.

This setting controls how much the lines after the first will be indented. You can adjust this to suit your preferences or the requirements of your document.

Step 5: Apply the Changes

Click ‘OK’ to apply the hanging indent to the highlighted text.

Once you hit ‘OK,’ you should see the changes take effect immediately. If you need to adjust the indent further, simply repeat the process.

After completing these steps, you’ll notice that your text now has a professional-looking hanging indent. This will make your document easier to read and more visually appealing, especially if you’re creating a list of references or citations.

Tips for Adding a Hanging Indent in Word

  • If you’re working on a bibliography, make sure to format all entries with a hanging indent for consistency.
  • Use the ruler at the top of the Word document to visually adjust and align indents if needed.
  • Remember that you can apply a hanging indent to a single paragraph or multiple paragraphs at once.
  • If the default indent size doesn’t fit your needs, you can enter any number into the ‘By’ field to customize the indent width.
  • You can also create a hanging indent by dragging the bottom triangle marker on the ruler to the right, while keeping the top square marker at the left margin.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I apply a hanging indent to a bulleted or numbered list?

Yes, you can apply a hanging indent to lists, just follow the same steps as you would for regular text.

What should I do if I don’t see the ‘Paragraph’ option when I right-click?

Make sure you’re in the ‘Home’ tab or ‘Layout’ tab in the ribbon, and then look for the small arrow in the bottom right corner of the ‘Paragraph’ group for more options.

Can I use keyboard shortcuts to create a hanging indent?

While there’s no direct keyboard shortcut for a hanging indent, you can use ‘Ctrl+T’ to create a hanging indent after setting the indent markers on the ruler.

How do I remove a hanging indent if I change my mind?

To remove a hanging indent, simply follow the same steps and choose ‘None’ from the ‘Special’ dropdown menu in the ‘Paragraph’ settings.

Can I set a default hanging indent for all future documents?

You cannot set a default specifically for hanging indents, but you can create a template with a hanging indent style and use that for future documents.


  1. Highlight the text.
  2. Navigate to the Paragraph settings.
  3. Adjust the Special dropdown menu to ‘Hanging.’
  4. Set the indent size.
  5. Apply the changes.


Mastering the use of hanging indents in Word can significantly improve the readability of your documents, and especially comes in handy for creating professional bibliographies. While it may seem daunting at first glance, with the steps provided, you’ll be adding hanging indents like a pro in no time. It’s a straightforward process that makes a world of difference in the presentation of your work. So, go ahead and give your documents that polished look with well-formatted hanging indents. If you’re eager to learn more about Word’s formatting capabilities or have further questions, there are plenty of resources available online. Now, are you ready to transform your documents with the simple yet powerful hanging indent?

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