How to Do Hanging Indent on Google Docs: A step-by-step guide

Creating a hanging indent in Google Docs is a simple process. A hanging indent is when the first line of a paragraph is not indented but the following lines are. This formatting is often used for citations in academic papers. To create a hanging indent, you’ll need to use the ruler tool and adjust the indentation settings for your paragraph.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Do Hanging Indent on Google Docs

Before we dive into the steps, let’s understand what we’re trying to achieve. A hanging indent is a kind of formatting where each line of a paragraph is indented except for the first line. It’s a common requirement for academic papers and references. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Open your Google Docs Document

Open the document where you want to add a hanging indent.

Once you have your document open, make sure you’re in the editing mode so you can make changes.

Step 2: Highlight the Text

Highlight the text you want to format with a hanging indent.

You can click and drag to select multiple lines or paragraphs of text that you want to include in the hanging indent.

Step 3: Find the Ruler

Make sure the ruler is visible at the top of your document. If it’s not, go to View > Show ruler.

The ruler is essential for creating a hanging indent because it shows you the margins and indents of your document.

Step 4: Adjust the Left Indent

Drag the Left Indent (light blue rectangle) to the right for the desired indent size.

Typically, a half-inch indent is standard for a hanging indent, but you can adjust it to your preference or requirements.

Step 5: Move the First Line Indent Back

Drag the First Line Indent (light blue triangle) back to the left margin line.

This will ensure that the first line of your paragraph is aligned with the rest of your document and that only subsequent lines are indented.

After completing these steps, the text you selected will have a hanging indent.

What Happens After Completing a Hanging Indent on Google Docs

After you’ve adjusted the indents using the ruler, the text will reformat automatically. The first line will align with your document’s left margin, and the following lines will be indented. The hanging indent will be applied to all the text you’ve highlighted.

Tips for Hanging Indent on Google Docs

  • Double-check your document’s requirements for indent size, as some may specify a different measure than the standard half-inch.
  • You can use the “Increase indent” and “Decrease indent” options for quick adjustments, but they won’t create a true hanging indent.
  • Be careful not to drag the wrong part of the ruler; the First Line Indent and Left Indent can be easily confused.
  • If the ruler isn’t showing up, make sure you’re in the editing mode and not in Suggesting or Viewing mode.
  • Practice makes perfect! Try adding hanging indents to a test document to get the hang of it before formatting an important document.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I create a hanging indent in Google Docs using a shortcut?

No, there’s no direct keyboard shortcut for creating a hanging indent in Google Docs. You must use the ruler as described in the steps.

Will the hanging indent be saved if I download the document as a PDF?

Yes, the formatting will be preserved when you download your Google Docs document as a PDF.

How can I remove a hanging indent if I change my mind?

Simply reverse the process: align the First Line Indent with the Left Indent marker on the ruler.

Can I apply a hanging indent to a list in Google Docs?

Yes, you can apply a hanging indent to any text, including lists.

Is the process the same for Google Docs on a mobile device?

The process is similar, but the interface is different on mobile devices, and it may be more challenging to adjust the indent with precision.


  1. Open your Google Docs document.
  2. Highlight the text.
  3. Make the ruler visible.
  4. Adjust the Left Indent.
  5. Move the First Line Indent back to the left margin.


Creating a hanging indent in Google Docs is not as intimidating as it might seem at first. By following the steps outlined above, you can format your document to meet academic standards and make your work look professional. Remember, it’s all about the ruler tool and understanding how to use the indent markers properly. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to apply hanging indents to your documents with ease.

If you’re still unsure, don’t hesitate to play around with a test document. Practice really does make perfect when it comes to mastering any new skill, including document formatting. And hey, if you ever get stuck, there are plenty of resources and forums online where you can ask for help or find tutorials with screenshots and videos.

So go ahead, give it a try! Whether you’re writing an essay, compiling a bibliography, or just looking to step up your Google Docs game, knowing how to do a hanging indent is a handy skill. Who knows, maybe your well-formatted documents will impress your teachers or colleagues so much that they’ll come to you for advice on how to do a hanging indent on Google Docs.

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