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Hanging Indent

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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 (if you just searched for this term), and there is a common mistake that students make when trying to come up with the right "look," but it creates a spacing nightmare in your paper! You can avoid a real headache by knowing how to form a hanging indent properly.

It is very important that you avoid hitting the tab or space bar to create the hanging indent look. If you do that, you can spend hours trying to get each entry to look right on the page.

To format correctly, you need to write each citation without inserting any hard returns (just type right through without hitting the enter or return button, in other words) 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.

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