Word 2003: Indent Text

Lesson 10: Indent Text



By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Indent text
  • Create hanging indents

Indenting text

An indent is the space between your margin and your text. Don't confuse the margin and the indent. The indent feature is often used to set a first-line indent for paragraphs.

To indent one or more lines of text:

  • You can use the Paragraph dialog box or select the blue Indentation link under Paragraph on the task pane. This method allows for a great amount of precision for setting left and right indents. Indenting is measured in inches. You can change the indent in tenths of inches.

    Indent Options

  • In the Indentation section, you can click the increment arrows to enter the amount of indentation.


  • Use the Increase/Decrease Indent buttons on the Formatting toolbar.

    Indent Buttons

CompleteClicking the Increase/Decrease Indent buttons is the most convenient way of setting a left or right indent. Each time you click the Increase or Decrease Indent button, your text is moved by the default .5 inches.

Indented Paragraph

Remember, there is a difference between indents and tabs. If you set a tab, only one line of text is indented. If you click one of the indent buttons or set an indent in the Paragraph dialog box, all of the text you type afterward will be indented.

Hanging indents

When all lines in a paragraph are indented except for the first line, a hanging indent is created. Hanging indents are not standard in documents such as business letters, but you may see examples of the hanging indent on webpages, newsletters, and bibliographic entries. Hanging indents are used for the MLA bibliographic format.

Hanging Paragraph Example

To create a hanging indent:

  • Choose Reveal Formatting on the task pane.
  • Click the blue link, Indentation, under the Paragraph heading.


  • Click Format on the menu bar.
  • Select Paragraph.
  • In the indentation section, you will see a Special: drop-down menu with some options.
  • Select the Hanging Indent option in the Special: drop-down menu.
  • You can specify the amount of indentation in the By: box by clicking on the increment arrows. These increments are measured in inches.

Hanging Menu


Download and save the Cover Letter Word document to complete the challenges below.

  • Open the document.
  • Place the insertion point at the end of the first paragraph.
  • Hit Enter twice.
  • Write a paragraph stating the skills you have that qualify you for the job.
  • Select Format from the menu.
  • Select Paragraph.
  • Select the Hanging Indent option in the Special: drop-down box, which is located in the Indention section of the dialog box.
  • In the By: drop-down menu, click the increment arrow until it reads .8".
  • Click OK.
  • Watch the ruler at the top of the document, and you will see the hanging indent.
  • Open Edit on the main menu, and select Undo to cancel the change you made.
  • Save and close the document.