Hanging Indent: Format & Example

Instructor: Mary Firestone
Find out what a hanging indent is, and how to create one in your document. Learn where the hanging indent is commonly used, and take a quiz to test your knowledge.

The Hanging Indent

A hanging indent is an indentation of the second and subsequent lines of text on a page. They're also known as a 'negative indents.' They're always used in bibliographies, Works Cited and References pages, and sometimes in scripts, dictionary entries, and footnotes.

Why Bother With Hanging Indents?

Hanging indents are a formatting requirement in MLA (Modern Language Association), CMS (Chicago Manual of Style), and APA (American Psychological Association) so if you're preparing college papers with outside sources, it's important to know how to create them. Their purpose is to visually separate entries, which tend to blend together. Hanging indents provide the visual cues.

Here's what an entry looks like without a hanging indent:

without indent

Here's an entry with a hanging indent:

with indent

How to Create a Hanging Indent

You can try using your tab key to shift the lines five spaces to the right, but sometimes all the text jumps to the right instead of just the second line and subsequent lines. Here are some methods that work:

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