Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Hanging Indents in Wrapped Text.

Hanging Indents in Wrapped Text

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 24, 2015)

3

If you place an object—such as a text box—at the left side of a page, and then wrap text around that object, you can create some interesting layouts. You can also be faced with a great deal of frustration because normal text wraps very nicely around the object, but some text doesn't behave like you would expect.

For instance, if you have paragraphs formatted with hanging indents, those paragraphs won't display properly to the right of the object. (Hanging indents are an integral part of numbered lists and bulleted lists.) This can make your layout look odd.

The reason for this behavior is quite simple, really. When you place the object in the document, Word doesn't change the margins for the page. Thus, if you have an object that is one inch wide, and the hanging indent is only one-half inch, then the half-inch point actually is in the middle of the object. Word, seeing that the hang distance is to the left of where the text wraps, ignores it completely; it does not treat the text as if the left margin were to the right of the object.

So how do you get the text to actually indent properly when wrapping at the right of an object? There is no easy or completely satisfactory way to do it. One approach is to adjust the margins for the page so that they go to the right of the text box. When you push the margins over, Word handles hanging indents properly for the page. Of course, changing the margins isn't terribly helpful for the parts of your document below the text box, where you would want the margins to again revert farther to the left.

Another approach is to place another text box on the page, this one to the right of the object around which you were wrapping. You can then place your text in the text box, and the hanging indents work fine. The drawback here, of course, is that if your text runs longer than what will fit in the text box, you need to somehow transition back to "regular" text that isn't in the text box—not the easiest of transitions to make.

Another solution, if you use styles, is to create special styles that you use for the hanging indent paragraphs that are beside wrapped objects. For instance, if the wrapped object is a "placeholder" for a letterhead, it is two inches wide, and it runs down the full left side of the first page, then you could create hanging indent styles that add two inches to the left indent of the paragraph. Apply the style to the paragraphs, and the hanging will appear to be proper in relation to the object being wrapped.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (2534) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Hanging Indents in Wrapped Text.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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Comments for this tip:

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is eight more than 7?

2015-01-27 05:46:39

Liz J

You might also be able to achieve this effect with a two-column table. Place the graphic or text box in the first (left) column and the indented text in the second (right) column.
If the indented text is 'deeper' than the graphic or text box, the 'extra' text would have to be cut from the second column and pasted below the table.


2015-01-26 09:23:01

Maryland, USA

This tip is difficult to visualize. It would be much more clear if there were screen shots.


2015-01-24 10:33:47

Juan

This tip would be easier to read if it includes pictures


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