Create hanging indents in MS Word or in your blog


Hang your indents in MS Word

A hanging indent is a paragraph style in which the first line is not indented, and all the rest are. It’s called a hanging indent because all the lines appear to be suspended beneath the first line. Writers working in academics, working with APA (American Psychological Association) and other structured applications often need to use hanging indents, and since most writing submissions are made in MS (Microsoft) Word, learning a quick, efficient way to hang and indent in MS Word is helpful. We’ll also look at how to hang and indent in a blog.

Here’s an example of a hanging indent:

This is what Maryan Pelland says about Internet writing —

Bad and inaccurate information from websites isn’t new. The Internet can be a fabulous tool, but it should not be the sole source of information for any factual writing from blogs, to research for fiction, to magazine or newspaper articles. Anyone can create a website and fill it with text. There’s never a guarantee that information online is accurate or current. That’s why writers and journalists should not rely on the Internet.

2. Highlight what you want indented — in this case, everything below the first line. Then go to the Format menu in older version of Word or the Page Layout tab in newer versions and choose Paragraph.

3. Locate the drop down menu called Special, open the drop down and choose Hanging. Click the ubiquitous OK and you’re done.

Hanging indents in blogs and other text applications


  1. Type your first line of content – the line that will set to the left, unindented. Hit Enter to go to the next line and type the rest of your paragraph.
  2. Highlight everything that is to be indented, then go to the tool bar in your text editor and find the option that looks like a small arrow with one dark line above it and several dark lines to its right. Hover over the option, and it should say indent. Click that option. Done.

Practice creating hanging indents in your document, electronic and print versions. They are useful for block quotations, for citing sources, or for setting off text that should stand out as special. I recently completed a 75-page editing project in which the author had used tabs and space bars to format his entire document. Re-engineering his booklet to print well was frustrating and time consuming. We billed him for the time. He was happy and we liked the paycheck. However, if you submit a manuscript to a traditional print publisher and it’s formatted in a non-standard way, the manuscript will likely fine its way to the slush pile.

Want a bonus trick for MS Word? If you need to use an em dash — that thing I just typed that looks like a long hyphen — hold down the alt key (PCs only, I’m no MAC expert) and type 0151 on your number key pad. It’s magic! Works in WordPress as well.


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