How to Create a Hanging Indent in Google Docs: A Step-by-Step Guide


Matthew Burleigh

Creating a hanging indent in Google Docs is a piece of cake, even if you’re not a tech whiz. Basically, you just have to highlight the text you want to format, go to the ruler at the top of your document, drag the left indent marker to the right, and then reverse the process for the first line indent marker. That’s it! Now, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty with some easy-to-follow steps.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Create a Hanging Indent in Google Docs

Before we start, let’s clear up what a hanging indent is. It’s a formatting style where the first line of a paragraph is not indented, but the following lines are. It’s commonly used in bibliographies and reference pages. Now, let’s get to the steps to create this format in your Google Docs.

Step 1: Highlight the Text

First things first, highlight the text you want to format with a hanging indent.
Once you’ve selected the text, you’re ready for the next step. Make sure you only highlight the text that needs the indent, not the entire document.

Step 2: Find the Ruler

Look for the ruler at the top of your Google Doc. If it’s not there, don’t worry, just click on “View” and then “Show ruler” to make it appear.
The ruler is crucial for this formatting task, so don’t skip this step!

Step 3: Adjust the Left Indent

On the ruler, you’ll see a light blue rectangle which is the left indent marker. Drag it to the right to the place where you want your hanging indent to start.
As you move the left indent marker, all the selected text except for the first line will move to the right.

Step 4: Move the First Line Indent Back

Now, just drag the small blue triangle (the first line indent marker) back to the left margin.
This will move the first line of each paragraph back to the starting position, creating the hanging indent effect.

After completing these steps, your selected text will have a hanging indent. This means the first line of each paragraph is aligned to the left margin, and the rest of the text is indented. It’s a neat trick that can make your documents look super professional, especially if you’re writing an academic paper or a bibliography.

Tips for Creating a Hanging Indent in Google Docs

  • Make sure to use the ruler for precise indentation. Eyeballing it just won’t cut it.
  • If your ruler isn’t showing up, remember to go to “View” and then click on “Show ruler.”
  • Double-check that you’re only highlighting the text you need to format. Including extra text might mess things up.
  • Practice makes perfect. Try it out a few times on some dummy text before you go to town on your important document.
  • If you make a mistake, don’t panic! You can always use the undo button or hit Ctrl + Z to try again.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a hanging indent used for?

A hanging indent is often used in bibliographies and works cited pages to clearly separate each entry.

Can I apply a hanging indent to multiple paragraphs at once?

Yes, you can! Just highlight all the paragraphs you want to format before following the steps.

What if I can’t see the ruler?

Go to the “View” menu and make sure “Show ruler” is checked. It should appear right away.

Can I make a hanging indent on the Google Docs mobile app?

Unfortunately, the mobile app doesn’t have the same functionality as the desktop version. You’ll need to use a computer to create a hanging indent.

Is there a keyboard shortcut for creating a hanging indent in Google Docs?

Nope, there isn’t a shortcut. You’ll have to do it manually following the steps outlined above.


  1. Highlight the text.
  2. Find the ruler.
  3. Adjust the left indent.
  4. Move the first line indent back.


And there you have it, folks! Creating a hanging indent in Google Docs is a straightforward process that can greatly enhance the readability and professionalism of your documents. Whether you’re a student, educator, or professional, mastering this simple formatting technique is an essential skill in today’s digital world. Remember, the key to a perfect hanging indent lies in precise use of the ruler and careful selection of text.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right on the first try. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to create hanging indents with your eyes closed. And if you ever find yourself stuck, feel free to revisit this article for a quick refresher. Happy formatting, and may your bibliographies always be impeccably indented!

Matthew Burleigh

Matthew Burleigh has been writing tech content online for more than ten years. He enjoys writing about Google Docs in addition to many other applications and devices and has cumulatively covered Google’s word-processing application in hundreds of different articles.

He has been published on dozens of popular websites, and his works have accumulated millions of pageviews.
While focused primarily on tutorials and guides for popular electronics like the iPhone and iPad, as well as common applications like Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel, he covers topics across the entire technology spectrum.

You can read his bio here.

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