A hanging indent is used to position the first line of each paragraph against the margin, with each additional line indented. If you want to add blocked indents to a Microsoft Word document, here’s what you need to do.

You will see blocked indents applied when you add bibliographies in Microsoft Word to meet style guide requirements for certain types of academic documents. You can use hanging indents for any reason, however, as they allow you to underline the start of each new paragraph for clarity.

Soon: How to Automatically Add Citations and Bibliographies to Microsoft Word

Adding a Suspended Indent to a Microsoft Word Document

A suspended indent can be applied to individual paragraphs or to the document as a whole. Applying a hanging indent will keep the first line in the usual, square position against the margins of your document, with each additional line indented inward.

An example of blocked indents applied to multiple paragraphs in a Microsoft Word document

If you want to apply hanging indentation to a single paragraph, first place your blinking cursor in that paragraph of text or select the paragraph as a whole. You can also apply the setting to multiple blocks of text at a time by selecting multiple paragraphs.

If you want to apply this setting to your entire document, you can do so later. For now, you can place your blinking cursor anywhere in your document.

Sample text from a Microsoft Word document, with a paragraph selected.

Once your text has been selected, click on the “Home” tab in the ribbon bar. From there, select the “Additional Options” icon in the lower right corner of the “Paragraph” section.


This will open the “Paragraph” settings window. Click the “Special” drop-down menu, listed under the “Indentation” section of the “Indents and Spacing” tab.

From there, select the “Hang” option.


You can choose the level of indentation of the text by modifying the size in the “By” box next to this parameter, the size being indicated in centimeters.

A preview is displayed at the bottom, allowing you to see what the text will look like after the setting is applied.

Change the depth of the

Apply a hanging indent to selected text only

If you want to apply the hanging indent setting only to the text you have selected, click the “OK” button at the bottom of the “Paragraph” settings window.

In the settings window

This will ensure that any text you haven’t selected is unaffected by any changes you’ve made here.

Sample text from a Microsoft Word document, with a hanging indent applied to the first paragraph.

Apply a blocking indent to the entire document

If you want to use this setting as the default in your current document (or in all future documents), click the “Set as Default” option at the bottom of the “Paragraph” window.

Click on the

You will be asked if you want to apply this change to your current document or apply it to all future documents. Select the options “This document only” or “All documents based on the Normal.dotm template”, then click “OK” to confirm your choice.

Choose d

If you choose the “This document only” option, the suspended indentation will be applied to all text in your current document. If you choose the option “All documents based on the Normal.dotm template”, a suspended indentation will be applied to your current document, as well as to all future documents that you create.