How to adjust the indents in Microsoft Word

There are two types of indents that can be adjusted: paragraphs and bullet points. Each has a separate way of adjusting the indent size. Below are the different ways you can adjust the indentation in Microsoft Word.

First line indent with tab
Adjusting indents using the ruler
Changing indents in the Paragraph window
Adjust the indent in the Word 2007 and 2010 Ribbon
Adjusting the bullet and numbering indentation

First line indent with tab

The first line indent can always be created using the Tab key on the keyboard. To change the first line indent size or indent the full paragraph, continue reading the below suggestions.

Adjusting indents using the ruler

To adjust a paragraph indent size, use the Ruler, which is just below the menu bar and resembles the picture shown below. If this feature is not visible, see our document on how to enable the Ruler. Towards the left side of the Ruler, look for indent markers that resemble an hourglass, like the image shown below.

Microsoft Word Ruler

The top marker (down arrow) controls the first line indent, the middle marker (up arrow) controls the hanging indent, and the bottom market (small box) controls the left indent. To adjust these indents, you can click and drag each marker to the right or left.

Changing indents in the Paragraph window

Another way to adjust the indents is to view the Paragraph settings. To view this window double-click on the markers in the Ruler, click Format and then Paragraph, or with the cursor in the paragraph right-click and chose Paragraph. As seen below, in the Paragraph window, the left and right indentation, the first line indent, and hanging indent size can all be adjusted. The hanging and first indent line settings are found under Special in the Indentation section.

Microsoft Word Paragraph window

At the bottom of the Paragraph settings window, you can preview the look of the indent sizes you are setting and make changes accordingly until you get it the way you want.

Adjust the indent in the Word 2007 and 2010 Ribbon

If you're using a new version of Microsoft Word, such as Word 2007 or 2010 that uses the Ribbon, adjust the indentation of a paragraph by clicking Page Layout and then adjusting the indent settings in the Paragraph section, as shown below. To view the Paragraph window mentioned in the above section, click the small down arrow indicated by the red arrow, in the picture below.

Microsoft Word Ribbon indent

Adjusting the bullet and numbering indentation

To adjust the indenting for bullet points, place you text cursor in a bulleted or numbered line in Microsoft Word. Then, in the Format menu, click on Bullets and Numbering. In the Bullets and Numbering window, click on the Customize button on one of the first three tabs, depending on the type of list you are changing.

Bullets menu in Word

In the next window that opens, you can adjust the indent size for the bullet position and the text position. At the bottom of that window, you can preview how the indentation sizing will look and make changes accordingly until you get it the way you want.

You can also access the Bullet and Numbering window by placing your text cursor on a bulleted or numbered line and right-clicking on the Word document. In the pop-up menu, select Bullets and Numbering.

Additional information

  • See our bullet and indent definitions for related information and links.