A hanging indent is a paragraph formatting style where the first line starts at the left margin and subsequent lines are indented. Hanging indents are commonly used when citing sources in research papers to help visually distinguish between citations.
Making hanging indents in Google Docs only takes a few clicks once you know where to find the setting. Here is a step-by-step guide to creating hanging indents in Google Docs on desktop and mobile.
What is a Hanging Indent?
A hanging indent is an indentation that applies to all lines of a paragraph except the first line. The first line starts at the left margin while subsequent lines are indented to the right by a specified amount, usually 0.5 inches.
Some key things to know about hanging indents:
- Used when citing sources in research papers and reports
- Helps visually differentiate between citations
- First line starts at left margin, subsequent lines indented
- Indent is usually 0.5 inches
Hanging indents allow readers to easily match in-text citations with the corresponding reference list entry. The indentation allows the reader’s eye to quickly scan down the left margin looking for specific citations.
Why Use Hanging Indents for Citations
Hanging indents are recommended for use with citations in MLA, APA, Chicago, and other common style formats. Here are some of the benefits of using hanging indents for citations:
- Visually distinguishes citations – The indentation helps each citation stand out so readers can easily match in-text citations to reference entries.
- Improves scannability – Readers can scan down the left margin looking for specific sources more easily.
- Creates consistent formatting – Using hanging indents ensures all citations follow the same formatting style.
- Enhances professional appearance – Proper use of hanging indents demonstrates attention to detail and consistency in following style guidelines.
In short, hanging indents improve the readability and scannability of citation lists, making it easier for readers to find, identify, and assess each source that was cited.
How to Make a Hanging Indent in Google Docs
Creating a hanging indent in Google Docs is simple once you know where to access the indentation options. Here are step-by-step instructions:
- Highlight the text you want to apply a hanging indent to. This may be an individual paragraph or multiple paragraphs, such as an entire reference list.
Access Indentation Options
- Click Format in the top menu, then select Align & indent.
- Click on Indentation options. This will open an indentation settings pop-up box.
Indentation options in Google Docs
Select Hanging Indent
- Under Special indent, select Hanging from the dropdown menu.
- Verify the indent measurement is set to 0.5 inches.
- Click Apply.
The selected text will now have a hanging indent applied. Repeat these steps to apply hanging indents to additional text as needed.
Removing Hanging Indents
To remove a hanging indent:
- Highlight the text with the hanging indent.
- Follow the steps above to access the Indentation options box.
- Select None under the Special indent dropdown menu.
- Click Apply.
The hanging indent will be removed, reverting the text back to a standard indent or no indent.
Hanging Indents on Mobile
The indentation formatting options work the same way in the Google Docs mobile app. To create a hanging indent on mobile:
- Tap on the text to highlight it.
- Tap the three dots in the top-right corner.
- Choose Formatting options.
- Select Hanging under Special indent.
The steps are simplified by the limited screen space but allow you to apply and remove hanging indents on the go.
Troubleshooting Hanging Indents
If your hanging indent is not indenting 0.5 inches or not working as expected, double check that:
- The correct text is highlighted
- Hanging is selected under Special indent
- The indent measurement is set to 0.5 inches
Reapplying the steps from the beginning can help reset the formatting if something is not working right.
Hanging Indents Improve Citations
Using hanging indents for citations may seem like a minor detail, but consistently formatting citations enhances the professionalism of any research paper. The improved readability also makes it faster and easier for readers to assess the sources referenced.
So whether you’re writing a research paper for class or a technical report for work, applying hanging indents to your citations only takes a few clicks in Google Docs. Consistently formatting citations demonstrates attention to detail and helps readers better understand the sources that support key information, conclusions, and decisions.