How to Enable a Hanging Indent in Google Docs: A Step-by-Step Guide

Want to make your Google Docs look more professional with a hanging indent? It’s easy! Just follow these simple steps, and you’ll have it set up in no time.

Step by Step Tutorial: Enabling Hanging Indent in Google Docs

Before we jump into the steps, let’s talk about what we’re doing. A hanging indent is a type of paragraph indentation that aligns the first line of your text with the page margin and then indents every subsequent line. This is commonly used in bibliographies and reference pages.

Step 1: Highlight the text you want to indent

First things first, select the text you want to format with a hanging indent.

When highlighting, make sure to include all the lines you want to be affected by the hanging indent. If you only highlight one line, the indent will only apply to that line.

Step 2: Go to the ‘Format’ menu

After highlighting your text, navigate to the top of your Google Docs page and click on ‘Format’.

The ‘Format’ menu is where all the magic happens for formatting your document. This includes things like font size, text alignment, line spacing, and, of course, indents.

Step 3: Select ‘Align & indent’ then ‘Indentation options’

In the ‘Format’ menu, hover over ‘Align & indent’, which will bring up another set of options. Click on ‘Indentation options’.

This will open a dialog box that gives you more control over the indentations and spacing within your document.

Step 4: In the dialog box, look for ‘Special indent’

In the ‘Indentation options’ dialog box, look for the ‘Special indent’ section.

The ‘Special indent’ dropdown is where you’ll find the option to create a hanging indent.

Step 5: Choose ‘Hanging’

Click on the dropdown menu under ‘Special indent’ and select ‘Hanging’.

After selecting ‘Hanging’, a field will appear where you can specify the size of the indent. The default is usually 0.5 inches, which works for most cases.

Step 6: Adjust the size if necessary and click ‘Apply’

If you want to adjust the size of the indent, do so by typing in your desired measurement. Then, click ‘Apply’.

Once you hit ‘Apply’, the changes will immediately take effect on the highlighted text, and you will see the first line aligned with the margin, while the rest of the paragraph is indented.

After completing these steps, all the selected text will now have a hanging indent. The rest of your document will remain unchanged unless you repeat the process for other sections.

Tips for Enabling Hanging Indent in Google Docs

  • Double-check that you’ve highlighted the correct text before applying the hanging indent.
  • Remember that the default indent size is 0.5 inches, but you can adjust it to fit your needs.
  • If you’re working on a bibliography, apply the hanging indent after you’ve finished writing all your citations for easier formatting.
  • Use the ruler at the top of the Google Docs page to visually see and adjust the indentation of your paragraphs.
  • If you make a mistake, you can undo the hanging indent by pressing Ctrl + Z (Cmd + Z on Mac).

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I remove a hanging indent?

To remove a hanging indent, highlight the text, go back to ‘Indentation options’, and select ‘None’ under the ‘Special indent’ dropdown.

Can I use a keyboard shortcut to create a hanging indent?

No, currently there is no keyboard shortcut to create a hanging indent in Google Docs.

Does a hanging indent apply to the entire document?

No, a hanging indent only applies to the text you have selected when you set it up.

Can I apply a hanging indent to a bulleted or numbered list?

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

What is the purpose of a hanging indent?

A hanging indent is commonly used in formatting bibliographies, reference lists, and works cited pages to clearly differentiate between entries.


  1. Highlight the text.
  2. Go to the ‘Format’ menu.
  3. Select ‘Align & indent’ then ‘Indentation options’.
  4. Look for ‘Special indent’.
  5. Choose ‘Hanging’.
  6. Adjust the size and click ‘Apply’.


Enabling a hanging indent in Google Docs can seem daunting at first, but it’s a simple process that can significantly improve the appearance of your document. Whether you’re writing an academic paper or creating a professional report, mastering this skill will ensure your references and citations are formatted correctly. By following the step-by-step tutorial and keeping the tips in mind, you’ll be able to easily apply a hanging indent to your text. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t hesitate to experiment with different indent sizes to see what works best for your document. Happy formatting!

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