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How to Create a Hanging Indent in Word

How to create a hanging indent in Word

Hanging indents are widely used in both books and magazines, and it’s important to know how to use them correctly in Word.

Otherwise, you could end up with some very strange-looking pages when you print out your document, and nobody wants that! This article explains how to create hanging indents in Word so that you can get the formatting right every time!

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The Difference Between Normal Indents and Hanging Indents

Hanging indents are often used to keep body text aligned along a single column and create a consistent block of text.

The difference between normal indents and hanging indents is that one is applied while you’re editing or formatting your document, while another is applied when inserting tabs into your document’s text.

Normal indents are placed within lines of text, and typically don’t affect page layout; for example, if you are writing about how to set up auto-save on your computer within an essay, it’s common practice to include indented paragraphs without worrying about where they will fall on each page of your document.

Hanging indents are often used within block quotations and headlines because it is more important that text be aligned along one column than to have each line appear next to each other across multiple columns.

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Make The Hanging Indent Markers

In Word, you can adjust your paragraph’s margins by using indent markers. These symbols, which look like little diamond-shaped arrows pointing downward, are similar to tab stops in that they both cause text that follows them to shift automatically over a given number of spaces or units.

While tabs control horizontal alignment (left-aligned, centered, and right-aligned), indent markers control vertical alignment (top-aligned, bottom-aligned, and hanging).

You can use either one or both types of indicators together within any given document. You can access these special characters by clicking on Insert at the top of your toolbar and selecting Symbol from the dropdown menu.

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When you insert an indent marker, it will appear as gray symbols until you highlight one. You can then choose from 12 different options by clicking on Insert Right or Insert Left. To remove an indent marker, simply highlight it and press Delete on your keyboard.

Add a Space Before and After Each Hanging Indent Marker

The best way to add space between a paragraph’s first line and its first hanging indent marker is to add extra spacing before and after that first line.

To do so, choose Line Spacing Options from Word’s menu bar (it’s near your document window’s top-left corner). In that menu, select Increase Line Spacing (to make all lines of text hug closer together) or Decrease Line Spacing (to spread lines out).

In either case, you’ll see an immediate change—though if you prefer precise control over how far apart your lines are, choose Format > Paragraphs instead.

This lets you specify exactly how many spaces should go between each line and your paragraphs’ starting points.

Change the Position of Text In A Hanging Indent

Start by clicking on your selection tool. Next, place your cursor anywhere within your paragraph. When you hover over your text, a black arrow will appear at either end of each line.

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If you’re having trouble seeing it, make sure you’ve selected show/hide paragraph marks within Word’s Paragraph options menu.

Now just click and drag away from where you want your first line to break. You can also change where those hanging indents start and stop (i.e., how many lines they span). Click on Format then Line and Paragraph Spacing.

When that box pops up select Hanging Indent, then adjust accordingly using the + or – buttons below that section as desired. Hit OK when finished and apply!

Create a Multilevel Hanging Indent

By using tabs, you can create multilevel hanging indents. You can use up to four levels of tabs and up to four levels of hanging indents in one paragraph.

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To use two or more levels of tabs, type out your text with line breaks after each new paragraph and press Tab on your keyboard once for each level of the tab you want.

To set up a multilevel hanging indent, select one or more paragraphs with multiple levels of tabs and click the small icon that looks like an arrowhead with three horizontal lines in it on your toolbar (it’s found next to other margin-altering icons).

Click on Format in your menu bar and then click Paragraph on the dropdown menu.

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Create a Custom Style for Your Hanging Indents

It’s not built into Word, but you can set up your own custom styles for different types of lists, which is one way to easily format them.

For example, here’s how you can create a style named Hanging-indent that puts your lines into an outdent: Press Ctrl+Shift+P on your keyboard and select New Style from Selection (or click New Style on the Styles pane if it’s visible).

In most versions of Word, including 2013, you should then see something like Style color: [Normal], Language: Normal.dotm in your Styles Gallery (see Figure 1 below). If so, click it once to select it and rename it.

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