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Grace Fleming

Hanging Indent

By December 9, 2008

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Do you know how to create a hanging indent? Do you know what a hanging indent is?

A hanging indent is the strange format of a bibliography note that is required in most writing styles. The first line of each note is flush to the left, but the subsequent lines of the individual notes are indented.

So why do I bring it up? You're probably touching up a final paper about now, and there is a common mistake you can avoid by knowing how to form a hanging indent properly.

It is very important that you create the indented lines in the citation in the proper way (instead of hitting the tab or space bar). If you don't, you can mess up the entire spacing of your bibliography and spend hours trying to get it to look right on the page.

To do it right, you need to write each citation without inserting any hard returns (hitting the enter button) or any tabs. Then, you have a few choices. You can highlight the entire note (a single one or the entire page of notes) for editing purposes. If you are using Microsoft Word 2003, go to FORMAT and PARAGRAPH. Somewhere in the menu (normally under SPECIAL), find the term HANGING and select it. The correct spacing will appear automatically.

Another method is to place your cursor before the notes to be formatted and use the command CTRL + T. Each individual note can be formatted this way, as long as you do a hard return between each one. That's how the word processor identifies them as separate entities.

In Microsoft Word 2007, you can use CTRL+T or select the tab for PAGE LAYOUT on the bar at the top of the page. Then find the PARAGRAPH box. The tiny little arrow in the bottom right-hand corner will expand the box, when clicked. There you will find the SPECIAL menu where you'll see HANGING. Select the HANGING command and your highlighted text will be formatted correctly.

You can also find the method for creating a hanging indent in Open Office in this step-by-step.


January 31, 2009 at 6:41 am
(1) Anne says:

You saved my day!

February 19, 2009 at 8:32 pm
(2) Heidi says:

Thanks. I used to know how to do this, and I just couldn’t remember it!! This was a huge help.

October 30, 2009 at 10:50 am
(3) ashley says:

this website sucks. i did not recieve the information that i needed. thanks for nothing.

November 5, 2009 at 12:07 pm
(4) kaitlin says:

This was great. I relayed the info to my whole class and it helped a lot of people out.

November 8, 2009 at 7:24 am
(5) Alice says:

Thank you! My teacher marked me off for not having a “hanging indent” reference page. Being an ‘older’ student, I never heard of it, so thank you for the helpful information!

November 10, 2009 at 4:41 pm
(6) tnaspro says:

Thanks so much!!!

December 9, 2009 at 12:36 pm
(7) Deanna says:


October 27, 2010 at 8:53 pm
(8) Jasmine says:

This works, but if you have Open Office, they literally do not have the “hanging” option, you have to set the values for it yourself. Open Office sucks, but most schools nowadays use the program, so your article doesn’t help anybody any more.

October 30, 2010 at 5:09 pm
(9) homeworktips says:
March 14, 2011 at 9:27 pm
(10) Evelyn says:

so helpful! Thanks!

March 20, 2011 at 4:19 pm
(11) Madeline says:

Thank you so much. I’d have been lost without you, and this paper is due in 16 hours.

June 28, 2011 at 9:33 pm
(12) Angela says:

Not sure why people have to leave unnecessary negative comments.

I’m getting brochures printed and the printer suggested hanging indents to make the dot points easier to read.

This article was very useful.. only thing I would add is a photo of a hanging indent, so you can reach out to those who just want to know what it is.

Cheers :)

July 9, 2011 at 10:14 pm
(13) Amanda says:

Thank you for providing the detailed instructions for creating a hanging indent!! Very helpful for my MLA report.


September 20, 2011 at 12:02 am
(14) mark says:

this was of absolutely no help whatsoever – get up to date
there is no format tab on my version of office

September 29, 2011 at 10:14 am
(15) Ankit says:

Great for homework on school’s macs!

October 12, 2011 at 8:18 pm
(16) Raina says:

So useful! Thanks a lot!

November 1, 2011 at 11:18 pm
(17) Emme says:

Thank you lots, very informative!!!

November 29, 2011 at 6:44 pm
(18) Farid Stanekzai says:

Thanks a lot, you saved my life.

December 1, 2011 at 8:25 am
(19) Allison says:

Thanks!! Saved the day and helped me out alot!!

December 14, 2011 at 6:27 pm
(20) Annika says:

THIS WAS ACTUALLY HELPFUL!! The rest of the internet didn’t explain it well but I just looked at this once and saved about 10000000 hours of attempting it on my own! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!

January 26, 2012 at 11:48 pm
(21) Jimmy says:


February 22, 2012 at 11:29 am
(22) Nick says:

I hate people who make such negative comments! If you have nothing positive to say……. say NOTHING!!!!

Thanks for the help, it was exactly what i was looking for!! I lost marks before because I didn’t use hanging indent but this wont happen again!

:-) Thanks

February 26, 2012 at 8:57 pm
(23) Whitney says:

Thank- you so much. I have a paper due tomorrow and I really needed this-it was the first one I found that was easy to understand and worked. You saved my day, and my Social Studies grade!

May 17, 2012 at 1:47 am
(24) tabby says:

thanks.very helpful

May 22, 2012 at 9:27 pm
(25) Josh says:

Thanks a lot, this was very helpful! My referencing doesn’t look like a big blob anymore.

June 12, 2012 at 1:17 am
(26) jode says:

I’ve never considered doing it like this!!!

Sure am going to try.


August 2, 2012 at 12:46 pm
(27) Ris says:

Why not just press Ctrl+T? (Ctrl+Shift+T to go back)

August 2, 2012 at 2:56 pm
(28) homeworktips says:

Wow [blush], I just learned something! I didn’t know about that command. I’m going to adjust my instructions.

August 4, 2012 at 7:04 am
(29) Kate says:

This is really helpful. Thank you.

August 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm
(30) cody says:

Grace, you’ve been true to your name…thanks!

October 4, 2012 at 10:10 am
(31) hannah sic em says:

thanks! i won’t forget that one!

October 16, 2012 at 2:39 am
(32) Jane Campbell says:

Thank You for this helpful information. It was made so easy for me. I got it right on the first try with your clear instructions. Thanks for teaching me and helping others. JC

November 4, 2012 at 9:31 am
(33) Kirara Kirsh says:

Thank a lot you helped me a lot with my Senior Research Project.


December 13, 2012 at 7:50 pm
(34) Taran says:

Thanks Alot, This is the first website I’ve found that’s actually TAUGHT be how to do it, had no clue before. Thanks alot again, appreciate it

December 16, 2012 at 2:36 pm
(35) Jenna says:

this doesnt even help at all
it really sucks
why do u even put information that doesnt even work??

January 19, 2013 at 3:58 pm
(36) Steve says:

Sometimes, one wants to continue text within a hanging indent on a new line. But pressing Enter within hanging indent starts a new line. Since the new line is the first within the hanging indent, it is not indented. To start a new line without starting a new hanging indent, press Shift-Enter rather than Enter.

Would be worth updating your useful item to mention this tidbit.

January 28, 2013 at 4:14 pm
(37) TC says:

Thank you for posting. This was very helpful.

March 10, 2013 at 10:51 am
(38) muhammad sohaib says:

great it saved my time

April 27, 2013 at 1:38 am
(39) Daniel says:

THANK YOU! This worked INSTANTLY! I could’ve spent ages doing trial and error in Word trying to figure out what took a moment to do thanks to you. God bless you. :-)

June 14, 2013 at 2:36 pm
(40) Solo says:

thanks a lot! very helpful!!!!

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