Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. 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: Double Indenting.

Double Indenting

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated January 23, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


In many businesses (such as the legal profession) it is important to be able to indent paragraphs from both the left and right margins. This helps to offset information from the foregoing and following text so it stands out better. This type of paragraph formatting is often applied to quotations and other "verbatim" information included in a document.

Unfortunately, Word does not include a quick shortcut to create a double indent. You can press Ctrl+M, but that indents only the left side of a paragraph. You are still stuck using the Paragraph dialog box or the Ruler to indent the right side.

One way around this is to create a style in Word that has the necessary indents on both the left and right side. The style can then be assigned to a keyboard shortcut so you can apply it easily. This approach can be very powerful, especially if you think you may need to change the margins on double-indented paragraphs at a later time.

Another approach is to create a macro that does the indenting for you. You can then assign the macro to a keyboard shortcut (such as Alt+D) so it can be invoked easily. The following macro will increase both the left and right indent of a paragraph by a quarter inch.

Sub DoubleIndent()
    Dim Lindt as Single
    Dim Rindt as Single

    Lindt = Selection.ParagraphFormat.LeftIndent
    Rindt = Selection.ParagraphFormat.RightIndent
    Lindt = Lindt + 18
    If Lindt > 180 Then Lindt = 0
    Rindt = Rindt + 18
    If Rindt > 180 Then Rindt = 0
    Selection.ParagraphFormat.LeftIndent = Lindt
    Selection.ParagraphFormat.RightIndent = Rindt
End Sub

The nifty thing about this macro is that you can repeatedly apply it and continue to step the margins inward. When you try to increase the margins beyond 2.5 inches on each side, the indents are automatically set back to zero and the process can start again.

Remember that the macro changes nothing else about the paragraph—just the left and right margins. If you want it to change some other formatting characteristic, the macro is easy enough to modify. For instance, if you wanted it to make the paragraph justified to both the left and right margin, you could add the following single line just before the "End Sub" line at the end of the macro:

    .Alignment = wdAlignParagraphJustify

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10733) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Double Indenting.

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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