Hanging Indent - Word 2010

Also known as a hanging paragraph, a hanging indent refers to a paragraph that has all lines except the first one indented. It’s called a hanging indent, because the first line hangs out over the rest of the paragraph. Typically, hanging indents are used for numbered and bulleted lists, but they have other uses too (see later). They look something like this:

Hanging Indent Example

Creating A Hanging Indent In Word

Whatever you do, don’t create a hanging indent by pressing the space key to create spaces, or even by tabbing across the page. There is a much better way. To create a hanging indent in Word, place the cursor anywhere in the paragraph. On the Home tab, click the dialogue launcher for the Paragraph group.

Paragraph Dialogue Launcher


When the Paragraph window opens, go down to the Special selector and choose hanging. You can either keep the default setting for the size of the indent, or you can adjust it by typing a new number into the box or by clicking on the up and down arrows to the right.

Hanging Indent

To adjust or remove a hanging indent that is already there, just repeat the steps above: click the Paragraph dialogue launcher and then change the Special selector or adjust the indent size.

Note that the hanging indent is only applied to the current paragraph i.e. the paragraph in which the cursor is placed. All other paragraphs are unaffected.

Hanging Indents In Your Bibliography

You will need to use hanging indents if you ever need to write a paper that includes source citations (each citation needs its own hanging indent). When citing sources, it’s important to write each citation without inserting any hard returns (using the enter key) or any tabs. Just let the citation flow over as many lines as is needed so that it is contained by one paragraph. The hanging indent is applied at paragraph level, so each citation needs just one paragraph.

The quick way to apply a hanging indent to all your citations is to type them all out, select them all and then apply the indent. This way, you only need to perform the action once, instead of once for each citation. Also, if you do it this way, you can get a feel for how the whole bibliography section looks instead of just looking at one citation in isolation. Unfortunately, there is no “live preview” when changing the indent size, so if you need to adjust it, you will have to apply it and then go back into the Paragraph window to readjust it if it doesn’t look right.