A hanging indent can be done to a Microsoft Word document running on various platforms, such as a Mac, PC, or Android mobile devices.

What is a Hanging Indent

A hanging indent is the indentation of the second and the succeeding lines in your document in MS Word.

It is also a formatting requirement in American Psychological Association and the Modern Language Association.  It is important to know how to create them especially if you are preparing college papers with external sources.

Basically, hanging indents are intended to separate entries visually that which tend to blend together. In other words, this provides a visual cue to the reader or researcher.

Things to Know When Setting Up a Hanging Indent In MS Word

Indenting the first line of a paragraph is commonly used for academic papers as well as for fiction. There are actually many ways to use a hanging indent, which include adding it to a Style.

You may also set up a hanging indent from the Ribbon via the Home tab and the Paragraph group.

How to Set Up a Hanging Indent Using The Paragraph Group

Here are basic steps you can mimic to set up a hanging indent on your own.

You can do this on an existing document or do it as you write your articles.

  • Open the existing document and choose the paragraph you are going to format as a hanging indent. Then, go back to the Home tab after that.
  • Select the Paragraph group by clicking the arrow to expand the menu for Indents and Spacing. A dialog box will launch for that matter.
  • After the Paragraph dialog box will appear, make sure that you are in the Indents and Spacing tab to continue to the next process.
  • Find the Indentation section in the box and click the Special dropdown arrow where you can have the First Line or the Hanging options. Choose the Hanging option.
  • Next to the Special dropdown box to the right is the depth of the indentation you are going to set up. This is represented with the By text box where you can enter a positive value with quarter-inch increments.
  • You can check how the new paragraph will look like at the bottom of the dialog box in the Preview section. Then select OK to apply the changes you are going to do with your existing paragraph.

You now have a paragraph with a hanging indent. If you want the subsequent paragraph to have the same format as the first one, you simply have to put the cursor at the end of the first paragraph and press Enter before you begin with a new one.

The succeeding paragraphs will have a hanging indentation, unless you are dealing with an existing content.

This is applicable only when you are just typing a new content with the same style.

Using the Ruler To Set Up a Hanging Indent

Check the Ruler option to indicate that you are going to use it. Depending on the version of MS Word you are using, you can find this at the View tab on the main menu.

  • In the Show group, you will see the Ruler, Gridlines, and Navigation Pane options. Just check the box beside the Ruler option if it is not yet selected.
  • In your existing content, pick the paragraph you are going to use the hanging indent.
  • Then, hover your mouse to the up-arrow slider on the ruler and pick the one labeled with hanging indent. Click and drag that arrow so that you can shift the text from the second and subsequent rows to the right.

You will be able to adjust the depth depending on your preference by dragging the arrow to where you would want it to be.

Applying Hanging Indent to a Style

If you are not familiar with Style, it is a collection of properties for formatting, including bold, color, double spacing, italics, and size.

You may be able to add a hanging indent to a style that you can use instead of going through the process recently discussed.

  • Simply open the document you are going to format for hanging indentation. Then, go to the ribbon and choose the Home tab.
  • Then, in the Styles group of formatting options, right-click on the Normal style.
  • A popup menu will show and from there, select Modify. Then, a Modify Style dialog box will appear.
  • Go to the Name text box and enter a new name for the style.
  • Choose the Format dropdown arrow and select Paragraph.
  • From the Paragraph dialog box, pick the Special dropdown arrow and select Hanging. You can now set the distance or depth of the indentation that you would like to have.
  • Click OK on each open dialog box to apply and save the changes you have made and close them.
  • This will apply the hanging indent to all texts that use the selected style for that matter.

Applying Hanging Indent In MS Word On a Mac

The basic procedures in applying the hanging indent to a MS Word document can also be done on various platforms with minor differences.

  • First, choose an existing document and select a paragraph to where you want to apply a hanging indent.
  • Then, go to the Format tab from the menu and select Paragraph.
  • A popup menu will show under this option and go to the Indents and Spacing tab.
  • From the Indentation section select Special dropdown menu and choose the Hanging option instead of the First Line.
  • You can also apply the depth of the hanging indentation with the By dropdown menu to choose the value with quarter-inch increments.
  • Click OK to finish the set up and save the changes you have done to the Paragraph settings.

Applying a Hanging Indent On Your Mobile Device in MS Word App

Open the MS Word app on your mobile device to begin with. If you are not able to see any options on your phone or tablet, try rotating the screen to landscape mode. Just make sure you have enabled the screen to auto rotate.

The available options should be visible now and here are steps you can mimic to do it.

  • You can apply this by typing in the text that you want to format. Then, double-tap on the first word of the paragraph you need to format and drag the other end of the highlight to where you want to stop.
  • This will highlight the text that you would want to apply the hanging indent.
  • Remember to always view the document in landscape mode, so check if that is correctly set up.
  • A popup menu will show where you can pick the type of formatting you like.
  • Tap on the arrow up to get more options for paragraph formatting.
  • Select the Paragraph section and you will see the Special Indent option.
  • Tap on the Special Indent option and you will see an option for First Line or Hanging.
  • Select the Hanging and the option for Line Spacing will show where you can select the depth in preset values.

Tap anywhere in the document to keep the hanging indentation format. Save the file you have just modified to apply the changes.

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