A handout from the Online Information Series
Copyright (c) 2004, Jolene M. Morris, All Rights Reserved


Word: Margins & Hanging Indents

Changing margins in Microsoft Word can be done in multiple ways. You can use toolbar buttons, you can use menus, and you can use keyboard hot keys. When you write an APA paper, you have need to change the margins in Word many times. You must indent quotes of 40 words or more. You must write References using hanging indents. This handout describes only one of those multiple ways of changing margins.

Paragraph Indent

If you have a quote of 40 words or more in an APA paper, you must indent the entire paragraph 1/2 inch. This is called a paragraph indent. The way to do that is to click the Increase Indent button:    (Then click the Decrease Indent button to return to the normal margin.) Or you could use the Left Indent button on the Ruler Bar--see instructions below.

Hanging Indent

When you create a reference list in an APA paper, you want the first line to stay at the left margin, but you want all the rest of the lines in a paragraph to indent one-half inch. You don't want to use the indent button because doing so would indent the entire paragraph. You can create a hanging indent several ways, but I like to use the buttons on the Ruler Bar. In fact, I use the margin hourglass on the Ruler Bar for all my margin formatting. An easier way to turn on hanging indent is with the shortcut key: CTRL+T

 

Word's Ruler Bar

The graphic to the left shows the margin hourglass on the Ruler Bar. Four locations or "hot spots" are on the margin hourglass as indicated by the four, colored arrows. Each of the four hot spots is described below (using the same color text as the arrow for easy reference).

TIP: Sometimes it is difficult to grab exactly the right location on the margin hourglass because the hot spots are all so small--the trick is to hover over the location until the name of the button pops up in a little screen tip, then click and drag the hot spot.

 

Left Margin

In the picture of the margin hourglass above, the blue arrow is pointing to the Left Margin. The Left Margin is the point where the top triangle (trapezoid) and bottom triangle of the margin hourglass meet. The Left Margin permanently changes the left margin for the entire document, including any paragraphs previously typed. If you want to change the left margin at this point only, use the Left Indent rectangle.

Left Indent

In the picture of the margin hourglass above, the green arrow is pointing to the Left Indent. The Left Indent is the rectangle at the bottom of the margin hourglass. This left indent rectangle can be moved right or left. This changes the left margin from that place on, but it does not affect any paragraphs previously typed. You can use the left indent rectangle to indent a single paragraph as in an APA quote: Move the left indent rectangle to the right a half inch, then at the end of the paragraph quote, move the left indent button back to the left one-half inch.

First Line Indent

In the picture of the margin hourglass above, the red arrow is pointing to the First Line Indent. The First Line Indent is the top triangle (trapezoid) on the margin hourglass. The position where you set this triangle will be where EVERY first line will be for EVERY paragraph. In an APA paper, this button is moved to the right one-half inch for a normal paragraph indent.

Hanging Indent

In the picture of the margin hourglass above, the purple arrow is pointing to the Hanging Indent. The Hanging Indent is the bottom triangle (trapezoid) on the margin hourglass. It moves together with the left indent rectangle. This allows you to move all except the first line of every paragraph to the right one-half inch. You will notice that the First Line Indent button stays where it was previously set. When creating a hanging indent, the first line stays at the margin but all the rest of the lines in the paragraph are indented. Now that you have learned all that, the shortcut key for turning on hanging indent is CTRL+T (press that key combination now and watch the bottom triangle and the left indent rectangle move over one-half inch)--spiffy!

 


Copyright (c) 2004, Jolene M. Morris, All Rights Reserved