How to Apply a Hanging Indentation on Microsoft Word

Indentation is the space that is given before a paragraph begins. This is the normal kind of indentation that occurs usually in the body of the paper where the paragraphs are indented. Hanging indentation, on the other hand, is slightly different. In hanging indentation, the second line and the lines after that, are indented, depending on the requirements of the paper. You might have witnessed such sort of indentation in the bibliography section of any paper. That is a significant requirement for research papers to have the bibliography in a hanging indentation style.

Applying Hanging Indentation on a Microsoft Word Document

You can follow the steps as mentioned below to add a hanging indentation to your document. It is a very easy process.

  1. Open an empty document or an already existing one. You can select the whole document to add a hanging indentation to the file if that is what you need to do.
    Open a Word Document
  2. On the top toolbar ribbon, locate the options for Paragraph, and within that box, find this small corner facing arrow.
    Click on the corner facing arrow as highlighted in this image

    You need to click on this for more options for Paragraph editing, line spacing, and indentations.

  3. This is the extended box that will appear on the screen, where you can edit the paragraphs of your work.
    An extended Box will appear on the screen. It shows all the options for editing the paragraphs of your document.
  4. Under the heading for indentation, see the options under ‘Special’. This is where you can add normal indentation or a hanging indentation to your work on Microsoft Word.
    To make the paragraphs indented, you need to choose from the options under ‘Special’ here as shown by the arrow in this image

    None, First Line and Hanging are the options you can choose from under indentation.

  5. After selecting a type, you can click on OK to finalize your settings. Now to check, you can start typing and work will not be indented.
    Choose ‘hanging’, if you want the indentation to begin from the second line of the paragraph, and ‘first line’ if you want it to begin from the first line of the paragraph
  6. To work on an already existing document, you can select the text as shown in the image below.Follow the same steps as mentioned above. Paragraph>Indentation>Special>Hanging. And this is how your document will change its formatting once you click OK.
    If you have already made a document and need to add indentations after the work has been completed, this is how you can select the work and proceed with the same steps as mentioned above

     

    Hanging Indentation

If you select the First Line option for indentation, this is how your document will appear.

First Line indentation
  1. Assume that there is an already existing formatting in the document, like that of the headings in Word. And you need to change that and have to add an indentation to the formatting once so that you don’t need to change it every time in the same document.
    Changing the formatting of an already existing format

    For this, you will click the right cursor on the heading format that you want to change. This will show you a dropdown list of options to choose from.

    Right-click on the format, that is, heading in this case

    Click on the second option here which says ‘Modify’.

  2. This dialogue box will appear. You can change the formatting for this right here. To add indentation, click on the ‘Format’ tab at the left bottom corner of this box.
    Modify the format. Change the font color, the text style, the font, and to add indentation, click on the ‘Format’ arrow on the left bottom side
  3. This will show you various options to choose from for which you can change the editing. Click on Paragraph in the list that appears.
    Click on Paragraph, this will open a box of options for you to edit the paragraph

    The same box appears here which appeared when we clicked that corner facing arrow in the earlier steps. 

    Change the indentation
  4. Alter the indentation according to your requirements. Since we are talking about hanging indentation, let’s set the formatting for Heading 1 to Hanging under the Special tab and Click OK to finalize the changes made.
    Click OK to finalize the changes that you just made to ‘Heading 1’
  5. The formatting has been successfully modified. Your work now looks something like this.
    The format has been modified

Adding indentation to your work, makes it look more organized and easier for the reader to read. And since many of the academic researchers have made it a requirement for papers which show bibliography, to cite their work with hanging indentation. Now that you have learned this, you can always add the indentations before or after completing your work.

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Habiba Rehman


Major love for reading, but writing is what keeps me going. Dream to publish my own novels someday.
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