How to Do a Hanging Indent

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How to Do a Hanging Indent

A hanging indent is an important part of the typing process when compiling together certain works, especially in bibliographies. Learn about how to create this in a document using simple tools and means to get it looking indented.

When it comes to the different ways to experiment with text using stylization that can enhance it, the computer plays a vital role in wrapping up the final layout. Everyday we come across different ways that text is portrayed, often looking simple to the naked eye, with a lot of numeric and textual coding that goes into it behind the scenes. Like say for instance when you come across a web portal with tables and diagrams, including pie charts and statistics all neatly laid out for readers to interpret and use as reference.

No one ever wonders how the writer put together all of that data, but only scans through what text and numbers are on display. Here what comes into play are HTML codes, that is, Hypertext Markup Language and a whole lot more of other software coding languages, where computers understand and convert certain threads of this code into what we see on every website.

Likewise, when it comes to writing, a hanging indent plays an important role in arranging text in a manner that is both neat, easy to read and consistent. To sum it up in simple words, “it is when the first line of a paragraph is left aligned against the left margin, while the second sentence onwards is about half an inch away from that very margin, creating a little white space called the indent“.

This type of spacing is used when it comes to poems and even bibliographies, which is where a record is made of different works stating the place and date of where and when it was written / published / recorded. You will notice these behind books after it has been concluded as way of reference for the reader.

How to Do a Hanging Indent On Your Computer

Creating a hanging indentation doesn’t require one to be a computer genius, and can be done through some simple steps using the menu options given to you in Microsoft office or other such programs. A hanging indent is a very common way of spacing out computer programming codes which comes handy for those who are into programming.

I remember back in school when we used a program called Visual Basic that had indented coding that was automatically rendered indents as we typed. Similarly when one has to do bulleted lists, or those that are numbered, the preceding text is sometimes marginalized before the next is indented. To understand this let’s look at an example.


There are four types of seasons that one is likely to experience in a region that has climatic conditions that aren’t subjected to severity, be it cold or hot.

  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Fall
  • Winter

Take notice of how the bulleted points automatically space out before they begin, making it look both easy to read and understandable at first glance. That space you see before the point begins, is called the indent.

Most Microsoft Office versions will have these options, where Writer and other document pad programs should contain these settings as well.

  • Highlight text using your cursor, choosing the introductory paragraph (or any other paragraph) that you wish to indent. By that I mean from the second line onwards, or the first, depending on what you are putting together (is it a paragraph indent or poem indentations?).
  • The ‘paragraph’ option comes under either ‘home‘ or ‘format‘ (depending on your version and type of document program) from the topmost options with the drop-down menu lists.
  • Once you open the paragraph dialog box, you will notice the option called ‘hanging‘; when you click this it will automatically display the spacing for your indent at about half an inch away from the margin. This would apply to some older versions of document programs. In newer ones, when the dialog box appears, you’ll see that the first option has already been selected – ‘indent and spacing’. Under this, you’ll have varied number spacing options that you can choose from depending on how far you want the indent to span out, where the display on the right will guide you as you change the values in each entry box.
  • After you select which lines are to be indented, you can then click OK, to save your changes / ‘reset’ if you feel like you need to begin from scratch.

A hanging indent is useful for varied purposes to keep text compiled neatly where readers can immediately spot what they need to read and not have it looking cluttered or squished together. So remember how to use this important feature in your writing where you can emphasize your text appropriately.

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