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: Decreasing a Paragraph's Indent.

Decreasing a Paragraph's Indent

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 8, 2024)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


One of the common tasks done to "break up" text and make it more interesting to the reader is to indent some paragraphs. For instance, you may have several paragraphs indented to set them off from the left margin of the document. If you want to undo an indented paragraph, or reduce the indent, you can quickly do so in one of two ways:

  • Click on the Decrease Indent tool in the Paragraph group of the Home tab of the ribbon.
  • Press Shift+Ctrl+M.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12052) 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: Decreasing a Paragraph's Indent.

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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What is two more than 2?

2024-03-11 16:49:58

Paul Stregevsky

The indentation toolbar buttons are confusingly named. When you apply them to a numbered list or an outlined numbered list, the results can be unpredicable:

Decrease Indent and Increase Indent change the paragraph's level in the numbering hierarchy:

- If your paragraph number is Level 2, it will be promoted to Level 1 (Decrease Indent) or demoted to Level 3 (Increase Indent), as illustrated below by paragraph "a".

- If you've used outline numbers--say, for your headings--the Decrease Indent button will change a Heading 2 (e.g., 2.4) to a Heading 1 (3.0), while Increase Indent will change it to Heading 3 (2.4.1).

Decrease Indent Position and Increase Indent Position will merely change the paragraph's horizontal placement, as illustrated below by paragraph "4."

I keep both pairs of buttons on my toolbar. But I keep one pair separately from the other so I don't confuse them. (see Figure 1 below)

Figure 1. Decrease/Increase Indent buttons vs. Decrease/Increase Indent Position

2024-03-08 13:41:54

Malcolm Patterson

Like all forms of direct formatting, (a) this works, (b) it's quick, and (c) it's much better than the manual formatting that typists were trained to do (i.e., embedding tabs and spaces in the middle of the text to make the document "look right"). On the other hand, a more practical solution in the long run is to define a paragraph style with the text positioning you want. That way, when you decide to change the margin for such paragraphs, you can change them all at once.

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