How to Set the First Line to Indent on Microsoft Word

By Jennifer Walker

When you are writing a document in Microsoft Word, you may find it necessary from time to time to indent your text in different ways. Sometimes a whole block of text needs to be indented, such as for a quote. The audience for your document may have requirements for indentation. The publishing industry in particular is very particular about the format you use, and submitting a document with incorrect formatting will often earn you a rejection before the editor has read a single word. Some will ask you to double space the text with no extra space between paragraphs. Whatever the case may be, read on to learn how to set the first line to indent on Microsoft Word.

Things You'll Need

  • Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word 2007

Step 1

Open your document in Microsoft Word. If you have not started writing yet, you can set the first line indent before you start. If you have already started writing, select all of the text before proceeding.

Step 2

Select the "Home" menu. In the "Paragraph" section, click on the little box to the right of “Paragraph.”

Step 3

A dialog box will appear. Select the "Indents" and "Spacing" tab if it is not already displayed.

Step 4

In the "Indentation" section of the dialog box, on the right side is a drop-down menu titled “Special.” Click the down-pointing arrow under Special and you will have two choices, one of which is "First Line." Click on it.

Step 5

The “By” text box will automatically fill in with 0.5 inches for the amount of indentation. This is standard, so you can usually leave it alone. However, you can either type a different number or use the arrows to increase or decrease the indent.

Step 6

When you have made your selections, click "OK." Your text should now be indented the way you wanted.

Microsoft Word 1997 to 2003

Step 1

If you have not started writing yet, you can set the indentation before you start. If you have already started writing, select all of the text before proceeding.

Step 2

Click on the "Format" menu, then "Paragraph."

Step 3

A dialog box will appear. Select the "Indents" and "Spacing" tab if it is not already displayed.

Step 4

In the "Indentation" section of the dialog box, on the right side is a drop-down menu titled “Special.” Click the down-pointing arrow under Special and you will have two choices, one of which is "First Line." Click on it.

Step 5

The “By” text box will automatically fill in with 0.5 inches for the amount of indentation. This is standard, so you can usually leave it alone. However, you can either type a different number or use the arrows to increase or decrease the indent.

Step 6

When you have made your selections, click "OK." Your text should now be indented the way you wanted.