How to Indent a Paragraph in Word 2013

By Faithe Wempen

When you set indentation for a paragraph in Word 2013, its left and/or right sides are inset by the amount you specify. The indentation of a paragraph refers to how its left and/or right sides are inset.

Many people like to indent quotations to set them apart from the rest of the text for emphasis, for example. When a paragraph has no indentation, it’s allowed to take up the full range of space between the left and right margins.

In addition to a left and right indent value, each paragraph can optionally have a special indent for the first line. If the first line is indented more than the rest of the paragraph, it’s known as a first-line indent. If the first line is indented less than the rest of the paragraph, it’s called a hanging indent.

First-line indents are sometimes used in reports and books to help the reader’s eye catch the beginning of a paragraph. In layouts where there is vertical space between paragraphs, first-line indents are less useful because it’s easy to see where a new paragraph begins without that help.

Hanging indents are typically used to create listings. In a bulleted or numbered list, the bullet or number hangs off the left edge of the paragraph, in a hanging indent. However, in Word, when you create bulleted or numbered lists, Word adjusts the paragraph’s hanging indent automatically, so you don’t have to think about it.

  1. Open the document in Word, with the document open from the previous exercise, triple-click the paragraph containing the quotation to select.

  2. Click the Increase Indent button on the Home tab of the Ribbon.

    The left indent increases by 0.5 inch, as shown in this figure.


  3. Click the dialog box launcher in the Paragraph group to open the Paragraph dialog box.

  4. Under Indentation, click the up increment arrow on the Right text box to increase the right indent to 0.5 inch.

    See this figure.


  5. Click OK.

    Now the paragraph is indented 0.5 inch on each side.

  6. Click on a new paragraph and click the dialog box launcher again to reopen the Paragraph dialog box.

  7. Under Indentation, open the Special drop-down list and select First Line, as shown here.

    A first line indent default value of 0.5 inch appears.


  8. Click OK.

    That paragraph is now first-line indented by 0.5 inch.

    You can also create a first-line indent by positioning the insertion point at the beginning of a paragraph and pressing the Tab key. Normally this would place a 0.5-inch tab at the beginning of the paragraph, but the Word AutoCorrect feature immediately converts it to a real first-line indent for you.

    For more practice, try setting a hanging indent for one of the remaining paragraphs. Choose Hanging from the Special drop-down list in the Paragraph dialog box. When you’re finished, press Ctrl+Z to undo your change.

  9. Save the changes to the document.