9. Inserting Indents

 
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Overview

In this lesson, we introduce the ruler to demonstrate how to insert and edit indents.

Lesson Notes

Lesson Goal

Learn how indentation affects spacing within lines of text.

What Is an indent?

When you indent text, it appears further away from the margin. Text can be indented from the left and from the right, regardless of what alignment you’re using.

For normal passages of text, it’s mostly governed by personal preference. Indents are very important when using bullet points, but we’ll cover that in the next course.

Types of indentation

First line indentation is most often used to indicate the start of a new paragraph. Full indentation is often used for a quotation which appears in its own paragraph.

Hanging indentation, which indents an entire paragraph except for the first line, is rare and should be avoided.

Adjusting indentation

You can adjust left, right, first line and full paragraph indentation from the ruler. The ruler is usually not enabled by default. To enable it, navigate to the view tab in the Ribbon. In the “Show” group, ensure that the ruler has been checked.

To add a quick indent to the right or left, click the indent command in the Paragraph group. You can also add a left indent by placing the cursor at the beginning of the line and tapping Tab.

Both of these will indent by the default amount, 1.23cm or ½ inches. To change this, open paragraph settings, click tabs and enter a new figure under “Default tab stops:”

 

 

Transcript

In the previous lesson, we discussed how margins affect where text starts and ends. In this lesson, we'll learn how indentation affects spacing within lines of text.

When you indent text, it appears further away from the margin.

Text can be indented from the left and from the right, regardless of what alignment you're using. Indentation is used for a variety of purposes.

For normal passages of text, it's mostly governed by personal preference. First line indentation is most often used to indicate the start of a new paragraph.

Full indentation is often used for a quotation which appears in its own paragraph.

Hanging indentation, which indents an entire paragraph except for the first line, is rare and should be avoided.

To further demonstrate indentation, we'll need to return to Word. The first step in setting the indentation of a document is to enable the ruler. To do this, we'll navigate to the View tab and check the box next to Ruler.

We can now see the ruler at the top of our page. The ruler gives you a good indication of the left and right margins in your document. The gray area of the ruler represents the part of your page that's outside the margin, and the white part indicates the part within the margin. The measurements within show the distances from the left margin. Depending on where you're from, the default will be either centimeters or inches.

To change the unit, we'll navigate to File, select Options, and then Advanced.

We'll then scroll down to the Display section, and next to Show measurements in units of, there's a dropdown box giving us a choice of a few different types of measurements. We'll opt for centimeters.

The little arrow icons on the ruler represent the indentation of our text. The top arrow represents the indentation of the first line only. The bottom arrow represents the indentation of the remaining lines in the paragraph.

The line beneath the arrow allows you to move both arrows at once to change the indentation for the whole paragraph.

Let's navigate to page three of our document and place the cursor anywhere in the first paragraph.

It looks like the first line of the paragraph is indented, but the top marker doesn't appear to reflect this.

Let's show the formatting marks to see if that will reveal the problem.

The formatting marks reveal that this line was manually indented with five spaces.

Let's replace those spaces with a tab. We can see that the top indentation marker on the ruler has jumped to the right.

We can also see why the original author of this document might have used spaces. The indentation from a single tab is quite large.

They may have wanted a smaller indentation.

You can change the indentation with the mouse by grabbing the top arrow and dragging it to the left.

We'll set it at half a centimeter.

Using the mouse to set indentation every time can slow down your typing.

Ideally, we'd like to customize the default tab interval. To do this, we'll navigate to the Home tab and expand the Paragraph group.

This view provides more complex options for alignment, indentation, and vertical spacing.

For this lesson, we'll focus on indentation.

We can see that left and right are both zero centimeters.

This is because the paragraph indentation markers are still in place at the margins, so they're zero centimeters away from the margin.

Under Special, we see the first line is indented by 0.5 centimeters because that's where we manually placed it. To change the default setting, we'll click the Tabs button on the bottom left.

There are a variety of options here, but we're just concerned with the Default tab stops box. As you can see, this is currently set at 1.27 centimeters which is much bigger than what we need. This number may seem arbitrary, but keep in mind that our ruler was set to inches when we started. 1.27 centimeters happens to be half an inch.

We'll set this to half a centimeter and click OK.

Now when we hit Tab, we see the indentation markers move in jumps of half a centimeter.

Additionally, we can also indent the entire paragraph with the Tab key.

When we select an entire paragraph and type Tab, Word automatically indents the entire selection.

We'll undo this indentation with Shift and Tab.

We have now set tabs to a shorter distance, but this indentation is not consistent with the rest of the document, so we'll remove it. This concludes our lesson on indentation.

In the next lesson, we'll move on to line spacing which refers to the spacing between lines.