Normal and Hanging Indents

In Word 2000 indents add structure to documents. Use the indent ruler and tabs to help make documents clearer.


By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Indent text
  • Use normal and hanging indents

Indenting text

The indent feature sets temporary left and right margins for paragraph text. It can also be used to set a first-line indent for paragraphs.

To indent one or more lines of text:

  • Use the Paragraph dialog box. This method allows for a lot of precision setting left and right indents. Indenting is measured in inches. You can change the indent in tenths of inches.

    Indention section of Paragraph dialog box.
  • In the Indentation section, you can click the increment arrows to enter the amount of indentation.

  • Use the Increase Indent/Decrease Indent buttons on the Formatting toolbar.

Indent buttons

This is the most convenient way of setting a left indent. Clicking the Increase Indent button once indents text to a default 0.5".

Remember, there is a difference between indents and tabs. If you set a tab, only one line of text is indented. If you click one of the indent buttons or set an indent in the Paragraph dialog box, all of the text you type afterward will be indented.

Hanging indents

When all of the lines in a paragraph are indented except the first line, a hanging indent is created. In fact, the paragraph below is formatted using a hanging indent. Hanging indents are not standard in documents such as business letters, but you may see examples of the hanging indent on webpages, newsletters, and PowerPoint presentations.

Example of a hanging indent.

To create a hanging indent:

  • Choose FormatParagraph. The Paragraph dialog box appears.
  • In the Indentation section, you will see a Special: drop-down menu with some options.
  • The Hanging Indent option is located in the Special: drop-down menu.
  • You can specify the amount of indentation in the By: box by clicking the increment arrows. These increments are measured in inches.

Special section of Paragraph dialog box.

If you're still confused about why you would use a hanging indent, notice the bulleted lists in this course. Here, Word automatically creates hanging indents to place the bullets so the second line of text is aligned directly under the first line.


  • Open the Format menu.
  • Select Paragraph.
  • In the Indentation section, select the Hanging Indent option in the Special: drop-down menu.
  • In the By: drop-down menu, click the increment arrow until it reads 0.8".
  • Click OK.
  • You will now see 0.8" hanging indent.