Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Extending a Paragraph into the Left Margin.

Extending a Paragraph into the Left Margin

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated December 9, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


You probably already know that Word allows you to specify an indent from the left margin on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis, if desired. The indent value you set is added to the left margin value for the page, thereby deriving how far the left side of the paragraph should appear in relation to the left edge of the paper.

For some layout tasks, you may want to set a negative indent for a paragraph. Word allows you to do this, effectively moving the left side of the paragraph into the margin area you defined for your page. To set a negative indent, follow these steps:

  1. Select the paragraph or paragraphs you want affected by the formatting change. (If you want the change to a single paragraph only, you can simply make sure the insertion point is within that paragraph.)
  2. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the small icon at the bottom-right of Paragraph group. Word displays the Paragraph dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Paragraph dialog box.

  5. Using the Left control, specify a negative value. For instance, if you wanted the paragraph to extend a quarter-inch into the left margin area, you would enter -.25 as the Left value.
  6. Click on OK.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6831) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Extending a Paragraph into the Left Margin.

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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