A hanging indent is a paragraph formatting style where the first line starts at the left margin and subsequent lines are indented to the right. Hanging indents are commonly used in works cited and bibliography pages, to make it easier for readers to distinguish between entries.
In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn what hanging indents are, why you need them, and step-by-step instructions to create them in Google Docs.
What is a Hanging Indent?
A hanging indent, also called a negative indent, is an indentation of all lines of a paragraph except the first line (1). The first line starts at the left margin, while subsequent lines are indented to the right by a specified amount, usually 0.5 inches.
Here’s a visual example of a hanging indent:
Smith, John. Article Title. Journal Name, 2021.
Second line of citation indented 0.5 inches
The hanging indent allows the reader to easily scan works cited and bibliography pages, distinguishing between individual entries. This improves readability and visual appeal.
Why Use Hanging Indents?
There are several key reasons to use hanging indents on works cited pages and bibliographies (2):
- Readability: Hanging indents make it easy to differentiate between entries, improving scanability.
- Visual appeal: The indentation breaks up dense blocks of text.
- Citation style guidelines: APA, MLA, and Chicago styles recommend using hanging indents. Formatting according to style guidelines demonstrates attention to detail.
Failing to use hanging indents on works cited pages can demonstrate unfamiliarity with citation best practices. Using them properly impresses readers with your attention to detail.
Follow these simple steps to create hanging indents on Google Docs:
- Highlight the text you want to indent
- Click Format > Align & Indent > Indentation Options
- Under “Special Indent” select Hanging
- Enter 0.5 inches
- Click Apply
Here is a step-by-step video demonstration:
And visual instructions:
Hanging indent instructions
It only takes a few seconds to transform your works cited page with beautiful hanging indents!
- Use hanging indents on all works cited and bibliography pages. Be consistent!
- Indent 0.5 inches for optimal readability
- Apply double line spacing for references (3)
- Organize sources alphabetically by author’s last name
What are the benefits of hanging indents in Google Docs?
Hanging indents improve readability, visual appeal, and adherence to academic citation style guidelines like APA and MLA.
Do I need to manually create a hanging indent for each entry?
No! The indentation options allow you to quickly apply hanging indents to highlight paragraphs with just a few clicks.
Can I create a hanging indent on mobile?
Yes, the Google Docs app has the same indentation options to create hanging indents on mobile.
- Hanging indents are indented paragraphs where only the first line starts at the left margin
- They visually distinguish between entries on works cited and bibliography pages
- Applying them demonstrates attention to detail and academic citation best practices
- Use the indentation options in Google Docs to quickly add hanging indents
Adopting hanging indents where appropriate will make your academic writing more polished, readable, and visually appealing.