How to Do a Hanging Paragraph

By Damarious Page

Hanging paragraphs are also called hanging indents, because to get this effect you generally alter the paragraph's indentations. A standard paragraph may contain about five lines of sentences. Indenting the second through fifth sentences, while leaving the first sentence as is, is an example of a hanging paragraph. The visual effect of using hanging indents is that you can more easily separate and distinguish blocks of text or paragraphs without the need for special characters, such as bullet points. Hanging paragraphs are possible in at least three word processing applications that are available as of July 2011.

Step 1

Open Microsoft Word. Drag the cursor over the paragraph to highlight the text. Right-click the highlighted paragraph and select "Paragraph" from the menu, which opens a new dialog box. Select the "Indents and Spacing" tab. Open the drop-down menu under "Special" in the Indentation section. Choose "Hanging" from the list. Click the "up" arrow in the "By" box to increase the hanging indentation. Click "OK" to save the changes and close the dialog box.

Step 2

Launch OpenOffice Writer. Drag the cursor over the paragraph to highlight the text. Right-click the highlighted paragraph. Select "Paragraph" from the menu, which opens a dialog box. Choose the "Indents & Spacing" tab. Click the "up" arrow next to "Before Text" in the Indent section to increase or make the number in the box show as positive, above zero. Click the "down" arrow next to "First Line" to make the number in the box negative, below zero. Click the "OK" button to save the changes.

Step 3

Navigate to the Google Docs Documents website. Sign in to the Web-based word processor. Select the "View" menu, within the Google Docs window (not at the top of the Internet browser). Choose "Show Ruler," if it is not already checked. Drag the cursor to highlight the paragraph within the document. Place the cursor on the blue "rectangle" and "upside-down triangle" on the ruler at the top of the document. Drag both shapes toward the right side of the ruler, about 1 inch, and then release the cursor. Place the cursor on the "rectangle" only. Drag the "rectangle" back to the left side of the ruler to create a hanging paragraph. Save the changes.

Tips & Warnings

  • Press the "Ctrl" and "A" keys to highlight all paragraphs in a document. When you perform the hanging indent functions, the word processor will automatically change each paragraph.