Learn and Master Bibliographies, Works Cited, and References

Creating Hanging Indents for Your MLA Works Cited List


As you organize your Works Cited list, you notice each entry is supposed to be formatted using hanging indents. If you’re not familiar with this term, you may feel puzzled and unsure what to do next.

Hanging Indent Explained

It’s really very simple. A hanging indent simply means that the second line is indented five spaces from the first line. If your works cited entry is longer than two lines, keep using the hanging indent. The hanging indent is used in formatting bibliographies, reference lists and works cited pages in order to make each entry easier to read.


Steele, Thomas J., S.J., and Rowena A. Rivera. Penitente Self-Government: Brotherhoods and Councils, 1797 – 1947. Santa Fe: Ancient City Press, 1985.


Robe, Stanley L., ed. Hispanic Folktales from New Mexico: Narratives from the R.D. Jameson Collection. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1980.

Creating a Hanging Indent in Word

The easiest way to create a hanging indent in Word is to type out and format your entry by following these steps:

  1. Place your cursor at the beginning of your entry and highlight it.
  2. Right click and chose paragraph, click on the indent and spacing tab.
  3. Select ‘hanging indent’ in the Special box.

Creating hanging indents for bibliography citations in Word document

To use your drop-down menu:

  1. Click on the Home tab.
  2. Then move to the Paragraph toolbar.
  3. Click on the small arrow located on the bottom right, next to the word Paragraph.
  4. Select the indent and spacing tab, select hanging indent in the Special field.

Creating hanging indents for bibliography citations in Word document


Creating hanging indents for bibliography citations in Word document

Creating a Hanging Indent in Google Docs

To create a hanging indent in Google Docs, follow these steps:

1. Place the cursor at the beginning of your text, highlighting the entry or entries.
2. Go to the Format drop-down tab.
3. Select Align and Indent
4. Select Indentation Options
5. In the Special field, select Hanging
6. Select Apply

Create hanging indent for bibliography citation in Google docs

Using hanging indents is important when creating your bibliography, reference list or works cited page. Remember to use Times New Roman 12 and double-space your entries. Once you get the hang of it, creating hanging indents is easy to do.

About the author

Adrienne Mathewson

Adrienne Mathewson, Editor-in-Chief of Bibliography.com, is an Information Professional with a Master’s in Library, Information & Science from San José State University with an emphasis on information literacy and scholarly publishing. She is a certified librarian through the State of New Mexico. As Editor-in-Chief of SJSU School of Information SRJ. Adrienne guided the editorial team through the scholarly journal’s double-blind, peer reviewed process to provide quality, cited articles to library information and science researchers. Her passion for digital inclusion and information literacy led her to volunteer as a digital training team member of Librarians Without Borders. Adrienne has over 25 years of experience as a freelance writer and editor.

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