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3.4: Indenting Paragraphs

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    Indenting a paragraph results in moving the editable insertion point from the left or right margins. Users can indent the left or right edge of a paragraph, just the first line, or all lines except the first line. Paragraphs are indented relative to the page’s margins, and indenting a paragraph doesn’t affect the paragraph’s alignment. The default indents are 0 inches, meaning that lines of text extend from the left margin to the right margin. Indenting paragraphs can be performed by pressing the Decrease Indent or Increase Indent buttons on the Paragraph tab of the Home tab. Alternatively, to make precise changes to the Left and/or Right Indents or Paragraph Before/After Spacing, utilize the Paragraph group of the Layout tab. Indents are measured in inches and Spacing is measured in point, much like font sizes.

    Paragraph Group
    Paragraph Group

    A semi-block letter style requires the first line of each paragraph to be indented from the left margin, which is known as a first-line indent. Precise indent definitions can be specified in the Paragraph dialog window which can be opened by clicking the Launcher button in the Paragraph group. Alternatively, indents can also be set by dragging the markers on the ruler:

    Indent ruler markers
    Indent ruler markers

    A first-line indent requires the user to drag the  marker on the ruler to the position where the first line of the paragraph should begin. Typically, this is the .5” mark, which can also be accomplished by pressing the Tab key to indent the first line to the default .5” tab stop. A hanging indent occurs when the subsequent lines of a paragraph are indented more than the first. Hanging indents are often used when manually creating citations in a bibliography. To create a hanging indent, drag the marker on the ruler to the right. When citing long quotations in a research paper, users typically use both a left and right indent to offset the quotation, as shown below.

    Left and Right Indents example
    Left and Right Indents example


    This page titled 3.4: Indenting Paragraphs is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Marcus Lacher (Minnesota Libraries Publishing Project) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.