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How to Do a Hanging Indent in Google Docs (2 Ways)

A hanging indent, often referred to as a “second line indent”, starts a paragraph at the left margin, with all subsequent lines indented.

Hanging indents are often used in academic papers to cite works or reference publications in a bibliography. When you use bullets or numbers for reference lists, Google Docs adjusts the first and subsequent lines in a paragraph automatically.

Not a Google Docs user? We have plenty of Microsoft Word content and you can check out our Word courses!

This article outlines two ways to create hanging indents in Google Docs.

1) Create Hanging Indents with the Indentation Options Dialog Box

The first way to create a hanging indent involves the Indentation options dialog box. Here is the process:

  1. Click in the paragraph where you’d like to create a hanging indent or drag to select multiple paragraphs, to create a hanging indent in each.
  2. Click the Format drop-down menu, select Align and indent, then click Indentation options.
    The Indentation options dialog box appears.
  3. Select Hanging from the Special indent drop-down menu and click OK.
Indentation options dialog box

2) Configure Hanging Indents With the Ruler

The second method involves changing indentation settings on the ruler in Google Docs. If your ruler isn’t visible, click the View drop-down menu and verify that Show ruler is selected.

To create a hanging indent in Google Docs using the ruler:

  1. Click in the paragraph where you’d like to create a hanging indent or drag to select multiple paragraphs, to create a hanging indent in each.
  2. Drag the left indent marker (the blue triangle) to the right. Both markers move in unison.
  3. Drag the first line indent marker (the blue rectangle) to the left, usually back to the left margin.
Indent markers on the ruler

In the screen capture above, you can see the first line indent marker is positioned at the left margin, while the left indent marker (for second and subsequent lines) is positioned at .5″ on the ruler.

Use Either Method to Create a Hanging Indent in Google Docs

It’s important to note that both techniques outlined in this article will result in hanging indents being created in your document.

Choose the method you’re most comfortable with whenever you need to create a hanging indent in Google Docs.

By Michael Belfry

Working as a full-time training consultant, Michael provides Microsoft Office courses to government and private sector clients across Canada.