How To Do Hanging Indent on Google Docs [Easy Guide]

Hanging indents are particularly useful for readers when they want to find the authors of the works cited in your paper. Most readers do this to verify the information or learn about the cited study in more depth.

If you’re taking a course at your local uni or have an academic-related profession, chances are you work with all sorts of reports and papers that need citations and references. And learning how to do hanging indent on Google Docs would definitely up your game.

In this article, we’ll explore its uses and the three easiest ways to add a hanging indent on Google Docs. Don’t miss out on these tips for a more efficient workflow in the future.

What Is a Hanging Indent and When Do You Use It?

While the regular indent typically has the first paragraph line pushed back by a tab, a hanging indent does the exact opposite. It only retains the first line touching the page margin, while the rest of them are flushed to the right.

You would usually need to create hanging indents for academic writing and research, especially in the part where you mention your info sources. Depending on your formatting style, some examples of this are the bibliography of your paper or the references page.

There are a lot of academic formatting styles you can use, but the three ones mainly utilized in the academe that require hanging indents are APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), and CMS (Chicago Manual of Style).

Luckily, there are various methods on how to indent the second line on Google Docs. We’ll detail that below.

How To Do Hanging Indent on Google Docs

You can argue that you can just use new lines, tabs, and spaces to manually create your hanging indent on Google Docs. Well, at least it looks the part. But in fast-paced environments like college and work, doing it that way would be tiresome.

Here are three easy methods to hack hanging indents on Google Docs with half the effort and twice the results.

1. Using the Ruler

Like most other word processors, Google Docs has a built-in ruler that you can use to adjust your indentations and margins. By default, you should see it under the toolbar that contains the basic formatting options you use on the software.

But if it isn’t visible yet (maybe you turned it off accidentally in the past), you can toggle View > Show ruler to make it appear on your interface.

showing the ruler on google docs

Once it’s all set, here are the steps on how to reverse indent on Google Docs using the ruler:

  1. First, highlight the text you want to turn into a hanging indent
  2. Hover your cursor over the small blue-colored triangle on the left side of the ruler
  3. Next, click on and hold the triangle and drag it to the right to your preferred indentation size
dragging the blue triangle marker on google docs ruler
  1. To bring back the first line of the text to its original position, click on and hold the rectangle above the triangle marker and drag it back to the left
dragging the blue rectangle marker on google docs ruler
  1. And there’s your hanging indent
example of hanging indent on google docs

While you can arbitrarily set the indentation depth to your preferences, keep in mind that the standard used in most research reports is half an inch.

2. Using the Indentation Options on Google Docs

The first method is a lot more manual, but did you know that Google Docs actually has a specialized feature for hanging indents? If you’re more at peace directly putting the required depth, we recommend you use the built-in Indentation options on the platform.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. To get started, highlight your preferred text to apply the reverse indent to
  2. On the menu bar, find and click on Format
  3. Next, hover to Align & indent > Indentation options
finding indentation options under “format” to “align and indent”
  1. A dialog box will appear on your screen where you can indicate your preferences
  2. Then. under Special indent, click on the dropdown box and select Hanging
  3. Set the depth at the textbox beside it
selecting special indent and setting depth to half an inch
  1. Your hanging indent is now done

3. Using Keyboard Shortcuts

If you like seeing your hanging indents right away as you type your semantics, you can also make use of some key combinations on your keyboard. Simply follow the steps below:

  1. After finishing your paragraph, move the typing cursor to the start of its second line
  2. On your keyboard, first press the Shift key followed by the Enter key
  3. Next, press the Tab key once to indent the said line
  4. Repeat this process to indent the subsequent lines too

Related: How to Make a Flyer in Google Docs

You can also do these steps even if you’re using Google Docs on macOS. Simply press the Return key in place of the Enter key, and accomplish the other steps on the list. Whichever type of computer you’re using, the said step simply creates a soft return or line break.

Admittedly, this method is a lot more tiresome than the previous two techniques we have explored. But if you find this method comfy to use, then to each their own. After all, that’s what efficiency is all about — you choose what works best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why Can’t I Do a Hanging Indent on Google Docs?

The simplest explanation for this is probably that you haven’t discovered the right way to do it yet. You can create a hanging indent by adjusting it through the ruler or using the built-in Indentation options of Google Docs under Format > Align & indent. Explore whichever you’re comfortable using and do hanging indents like a breeze.

2. How To Make a Hanging Indent on Google Docs With Keyboard Shortcuts?

To make your text added with a hanging indent, simply move the typing cursor to the second line and press Shift + Enter/Return. Then, press the tab once to make the indent. You can repeat this process if necessary.

Final Thoughts

Making your references easy to read is a key principle in working with academic writing. You can make your citations skimmable by learning how to do hanging indent on Google Docs. If you’d love to learn more about the best practices on Google Docs and Sheets, don’t forget to visit our other guides too.

Want to become a Google Sheets expert? Take this Google Sheets Masterclass.


Most Popular Posts

Related Posts

Thanks for visiting! We’re happy to answer your spreadsheet questions. We specialize in formulas for Google Sheets, our own spreadsheet templates, and time-saving Excel tips.

Note that we’re supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission at no extra cost to you.

Like what we do? Share this article!