How to Do Hanging Indent on Word: A Step-by-Step Guide

Creating a hanging indent in Microsoft Word is a simple task that can be accomplished in a few clicks. A hanging indent is a style of paragraph indentation which keeps the first line of your paragraph at the margin, and then indents each subsequent line of the paragraph. It’s commonly used in bibliographies and reference pages. Let’s dive into how you can quickly set up a hanging indent in Word.

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Do Hanging Indent on Word

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details, let’s understand what we’re aiming for. By following these steps, you’ll be setting up a hanging indent which is an indent that applies to every line after the first line in your paragraph, pushing them inwards from the margin.

Step 1: Highlight the text

The first thing you need to do is highlight the text you want to format.

When you highlight the text, be sure not to include any headings or other paragraphs you don’t want to apply the hanging indent to. Just click and drag over the text that needs formatting.

Step 2: Right-click and select ‘Paragraph’

After highlighting, right-click on the selected text and choose ‘Paragraph’ from the menu that appears.

This will bring up a new window with various settings that you can adjust for your paragraph, including indents and spacing.

Step 3: Under ‘Indentation,’ select ‘Hanging’ from the ‘Special’ dropdown menu

In the ‘Paragraph’ window, you’ll see an option for ‘Indentation.’ Click on the ‘Special’ dropdown menu and select ‘Hanging.’

The ‘Hanging’ option is specifically designed to create the kind of indent where the first line stays at the margin, and the rest are indented.

Step 4: Set the size of the indent and click ‘OK’

Next to the ‘Special’ dropdown, there’s a field where you can set the size of your indent. The default is usually 0.5 inches.

You can adjust the size depending on your preference or the requirements of your document. Once you’re happy with the size, click ‘OK’ to apply the hanging indent.

After you complete these steps, you’ll see that the selected text now has a hanging indent applied to it. The first line will be aligned with the page margin, and all subsequent lines will be indented to the distance you set. This is particularly useful in academic writing and reference lists, where a clear and consistent formatting style is essential.

Tips on How to Do Hanging Indent on Word

  • Always double-check which lines of text you’re applying the hanging indent to, so you don’t accidentally format sections you didn’t mean to.
  • Remember that you can apply the hanging indent to multiple paragraphs at once by highlighting them all before you right-click and follow the steps.
  • If you’re using Word’s reference manager to insert citations, the hanging indent may automatically be applied.
  • You can use the ruler at the top of the Word document to manually set a hanging indent by dragging the bottom triangle indent marker to the right.
  • If you find that you use hanging indents often, you can modify a style in Word to include a hanging indent, so you can apply it with just one click.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I remove a hanging indent?

To remove a hanging indent, simply reverse the process. Highlight the text, right-click, select ‘Paragraph,’ and under the ‘Indentation’ section, select ‘None’ from the ‘Special’ dropdown menu.

Can I apply a hanging indent to a single paragraph?

Yes, you can apply a hanging indent to a single paragraph by just highlighting that paragraph and following the steps outlined above.

Is there a keyboard shortcut for a hanging indent in Word?

While there isn’t a direct shortcut for a hanging indent, you can use the shortcut Ctrl+T after highlighting the text to create a hanging indent quickly.

Can I apply a hanging indent to a list?

Yes, a hanging indent can be applied to a list in the same way it would be applied to any other text in Word.

How do I adjust the size of a hanging indent after I’ve applied it?

To adjust the size of a hanging indent, highlight the text with the indent, right-click, select ‘Paragraph,’ and then adjust the size in the ‘Indentation’ section before clicking ‘OK.’


  1. Highlight the text
  2. Right-click and select ‘Paragraph’
  3. Under ‘Indentation,’ select ‘Hanging’ from the ‘Special’ dropdown menu
  4. Set the size of the indent and click ‘OK’


Whether you’re a student, an academic, or a professional writer, knowing how to do a hanging indent on Word is a valuable skill that’ll make your documents look neat and professional. It’s a feature that’s not used in everyday writing but becomes essential when you’re creating work that requires specific formatting, like a bibliography or an annotated reference list.

Creating a hanging indent in Microsoft Word is a straightforward process that can be done in just a few simple steps. By following the guide above, you’ll find that applying this formatting style to your documents is a breeze. And with the additional tips provided, you should be able to tackle any hanging indent-related challenges that may come your way.

Remember, Microsoft Word is a powerful tool with many features that can help you format your documents to perfection, and mastering tasks like creating a hanging indent can make a significant difference in the presentation of your work. So next time you’re working on a paper or project that requires a hanging indent, give it a go—once you’ve done it a couple of times, it’ll become second nature.