Indentation in Word refers to adding extra spaces between one or more lines of text and the left or right margins. In most cases, you use indentation for automatically indenting the first line of paragraphs, indenting quotes, and setting up hanging indents for list text.

In today’s article, I will show you the proper way to indent your paragraphs in Word instead of pressing the spacebar exactly 7 times every time.

Without further ado, let’s get started.

Option 1: Add and remove indents from paragraphs in Word

One of the easiest ways of indenting paragraphs in Word is to use the Indentation buttons in the Paragraph group of the Home tab. However, this method will indent the whole paragraph. Jump to the next options if you are looking to do hanging indents or first-line indentation.

To add indents to paragraphs in Word:

  • Select the paragraph or paragraphs you wish to indent.
Select the paragraph to indent
  • Go to the Home tab, in the Paragraph group, click the Increase Indent button once.
Click the Increase Indent button

Clicking on the Increase indent button will move the paragraph farther away from the margin.

how to indent in Word
  • Click on the decrease indent button to move your paragraph closer to the margin. Clicking this button will remove or reduce the indent.
remove indenttation

Using Indentation Controls

You can also indent your paragraphs using the Indent Left and Indent Right controls in the Paragraph group of the Layout tab.

Indent left and Indent right

Left indent: Use this to specify how far you want to move the paragraph away from the left margin.

Right indent: Use this to specify how far you want to move the paragraph way from the right margin.

how to indent in Word

Before indent: Use this control to specify how much space should appear above the selected paragraph.

After indent: Use this control to specify how much space should appear below the selected paragraph.

This is how you may indent paragraphs in Word using Increase and Decrease Indent buttons and the paragraph controls on the Layout tab.

How to indent second line in word (Hanging Indent)

This indentation is well known as hanging indent. It is when the indentation of a paragraph starts from the second line. In other words, when all the lines in a paragraph are indented except for the first line.

Below screenshot illustrates an example of a hanging indent:

example of a hanging indent in word

Below are the steps to make hanging indents in Word:

  • Select the paragraph or paragraphs you want to indent.
  • Go to the Home tab, in the Paragraph group, click the Paragraph Settings icon.
Go to Home>Paragraph>Paragraph Launcher

The Paragraph dialog box will appear. It should look like the one in the screenshot below:

Paragraph window
  • Click to activate the Indents and Spacing tab.
  • In the Indentation group, click the Special drop-down list and select Hanging from the list.
  • The By: field will change to ½ inch by default. You can change it further by indicating how much inches you want for the indents.
specify the indetatin length
  • Click OK.

On clicking the OK button, the first line of the paragraph won’t be indented, but the rest of the paragraph will get indented by the default length which is 0.5 inch or by the value you specified.

  • To remove a hanging indent setting from a paragraph, launch the Paragraph dialog again and select (none) from the Special drop-down list under the Indentation group.
remove hanging indent
  • Click OK.

This is how you may add or remove hanging indents or second line indents in Word.

How to indent first line of paragraph in word

To automatically create first-line indentation as you type paragraphs, place your cursor at the beginning of the paragraph you want to indent and press the tab key once. Now when you press the Enter key to begin a new paragraph, Word will automatically indent its first line.

You can also use the Paragraph dialog box to create first-line indents in Word. Obey the steps below:

  • Select the paragraph or paragraphs you want to indent.
  • Go to the Home tab, in the Paragraph group, click the Paragraph Settings icon.
Go to Home>Paragraph>Paragraph Launcher

The Paragraph dialog box will appear.

  • Click to activate the Indents and Spacing tab.
  • In the Indentation group, click the Special drop-down list and select First line from the list.
first line indent in Word
  • The By: field will change to ½ inch by default. You can change it further by indicating how much inches you want for the indents.
  • Click OK.

On clicking the OK button, only the first line of the paragraph will be indented.

  • To remove the first-line indent from a paragraph, launch the Paragraph dialog again and select (none) from the Special drop-down list under the Indentation group.
remove hanging indent
  • Click OK.

Indenting paragraphs in Word with a ruler

Aside from using the other approaches, there’s yet another simple method for creating indents in Word – using the ruler.

The horizontal ruler in Microsoft Word provides a mouse-based way to create indents. It is especially easy for creating first-line indents and hanging indents (or second-line indents).

Another good thing about indenting with the ruler is that it enables you to visualize how the text will change as you drag. This way, as you drag the ruler, you can judge how far to go with the length of the indentation.

Obey the instructions below to create indents using the ruler:

  • Display the ruler.

To display the ruler in Word, go to the View tab and click to check the Ruler check box in the Show group. The ruler checkbox controls the visibility of the ruler in the current document only.

show ruler in Word
  • Select the paragraph or paragraphs to indent.
  • Drag the indent handles on the ruler to make the desired indentation.
make indentation in Word

To create First Line Indent, click and drag the corresponding handle to the right to indent only the first line of the selected paragraph. Drag to the left to reduce or remove indentation.

Also, to create Hanging Indent, click and drag the corresponding handle to the right to indent all but the first line of the selected paragraph. Drag to the left to reduce or remove indentation.

The Left and Right indents will add or remove indentation for all lines of the paragraph relative to the left and right margins respectively.

These are the amazing ways you can indent paragraphs in Word using the ruler.