How to Do a Hanging Indent Google Docs

More sophisticated formatting with this simple tip

Whether you need it to properly format a citation or just want to add some eye-catching formatting to your document, a hanging indent is a great option. When you're using Google Docs, there is more than one way to add a hanging indent. Here are all three ways to do a hanging indent in Google Docs.

What Is a Hanging Indent?

A hanging indent is a text formatting style often used in academic citations (including MLA and Chicago style), bibliographies, and by people who just want a cool text effect in their document.

A hanging indent is so named because the first line of the formatted text has a normal indentation, while all other lines are indented farther than the first. This makes the first line "hang" out over the second. Here's an example:

screenshot of a hanging indent

How to Do a Hanging Indent Google Docs 

There are three ways to create a hanging indent in Google Docs: Using a menu option, with a keyboard command, and using the ruler tool. To create a hanging indent using the menu option, follow these steps:

  1. Create a document in Google Docs, and add the text in which you want to add a hanging indent.

    Google Docs screenshot
  2. Select the text that you want to have the hanging indent. This can be a sentence, a paragraph, multiple paragraphs, etc.

    Google Docs screenshot with text selected
  3. Click the Format menu.

    Google Docs formatting menu
  4. Click Align & Indent.

    Align & Indent
  5. Click Indentation Options.

    Indentation options
  6. In the Special Indent section, click the drop down and then click Hanging.

    Hanging indent options
  7. Use the box to define the amount of the indent in inches.

    Defining the amount of indent
  8. Click Apply to get the hanging ident with your preferred setting.

    Google Docs screenshot with a hanging indent

You can also create a hanging indent in Google Docs using a keyboard combination. To do that, insert your cursor where you want to create the hanging indent. Press Return + Shift at the same time to create a line break (this will be invisible). Then click the Tab key to ident the line. This is a useful option if you're indenting the second line of a two-line section. For anything more than that, this is much more work than either of the other options.

How to Do a Hanging Indent Google Docs With the Ruler

The other way to create a hanging indent is to use the ruler tool at the top of your document. Here's how:

  1. Create a document in Google Docs and add the text you want to do a hanging indent on.

  2. Turn on the ruler, if it's not already showing (View > Show ruler).

    View > Show ruler
  3. Highlight the text that you want to add the hanging indent to. This could be a sentence, paragraph, or the whole document.

    Google Docs screenshot with text highlighted
  4. In the ruler, click and drag the left-indent control (it looks like a blue triangle). Drag this to where you want the hanging ident to be.

    Left indent control

    Make sure you don't accidentally grab the margin control instead.

  5. Click and drag the right-indent control (the blue bar just above the blue triangle in the ruler). Drag this back to where the first line should start, often the left-has margin.

    Right indent control
  6. When you let go of the right-ident control, you'll see you have created the hanging indent.

    Google Docs screenshot with hanging indent

Like creating hanging indents, there are plenty of other Google Doc hacks that can save you tons of time. If you're new to Google Docs, it's worth spending some time to learn the power of this program.