How to Indent Second Line in Google Docs: A Step-by-Step Guide


Michael Collins

Indenting the second line in Google Docs is a simple task that can help you organize your document and make it more readable. To do this, you need to use the ruler tool to set the indent for the second line of your paragraph. Here’s a quick overview: place your cursor at the beginning of the second line, go to the ruler at the top of your document, and then drag the Left Indent marker to the right to set your indent.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Indent Second Line in Google Docs

Before we dive into the steps, let’s understand why you might need to indent the second line. This formatting is often used for creating a hanging indent which is common in bibliographies, reference lists, and works cited pages. Following these steps will help you achieve that professional look for your document.

Step 1: Open your Google Doc

Open the Google Doc where you want to indent the second line.

Google Docs is a cloud-based word processor that’s part of the Google Suite. It’s free and accessible to anyone with a Google account.

Step 2: Highlight the text

Select the text where you want to indent the second line.

Be sure to highlight the full paragraph or paragraphs where you want the indent to apply. This will ensure that the formatting is consistent throughout your document.

Step 3: Find the Ruler

Ensure the ruler is visible at the top of the page. If it’s not, go to View and click on ‘Show ruler’.

The ruler is a handy tool in Google Docs that helps you control the margins and indents in your document. If it’s not visible by default, enabling it only takes a few seconds.

Step 4: Adjust the Left Indent

Drag the Left Indent (the light blue triangle) on the ruler to the right for your desired indent.

This light blue triangle controls where the first line of your paragraph begins. Moving it to the right will create the indent for the second line. It’s a simple click-and-drag motion.

Step 5: Adjust the First Line Indent

If necessary, drag the First Line Indent (the rectangle above the triangle) back to the left margin.

If you want only the second line to be indented and the first line to be aligned with the left margin, you’ll need to separate the First Line Indent from the Left Indent.

After completing these steps, you should see that the second line of your paragraph is indented to your desired position. This formatting will apply to all the text you’ve highlighted.

Tips for Indenting the Second Line in Google Docs

  • Make sure your cursor is placed correctly before adjusting the indents; it should be at the start of the text you wish to format.
  • If you need to indent multiple paragraphs, highlight all of them before making adjustments. This ensures uniformity across your document.
  • For a precise indent, you can input exact measurements by clicking on the ruler where the indent markers are located.
  • You can use the ‘Tab’ key on your keyboard for a quick indent, but this won’t create a hanging indent.
  • Double-check your document’s formatting requirements, as different style guides may have specific rules for indents.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a hanging indent?

A hanging indent is where the first line of a paragraph is not indented, but all subsequent lines are. It’s commonly used in bibliographies and references.

A hanging indent makes it easier to see where a new entry begins in a list of references, which is why it’s the preferred formatting for many academic papers.

Can I indent the second line using keyboard shortcuts?

No, there are no keyboard shortcuts to create a hanging indent in Google Docs. You’ll need to use the ruler as described in the steps above.

Keyboard shortcuts are great time-savers for many functions, but for this specific task, the ruler is your best tool.

How do I reset the indent if I make a mistake?

Simply drag the indent markers back to their original position on the ruler, or use the ‘Undo’ function (Ctrl+Z or Command+Z).

Mistakes happen, and that’s okay! Google Docs makes it easy to revert changes or adjust formatting as needed.

Can I indent the second line on the mobile Google Docs app?

Yes, you can indent the second line in the Google Docs app by tapping on the text and selecting ‘Paragraph’ from the formatting options.

Although it’s a bit trickier to do on a smaller screen, the mobile app still gives you the tools you need to format your document properly.

Does indenting the second line change the overall formatting of my document?

No, it only affects the paragraphs you have selected to format. The rest of your document will remain unchanged.

Indenting is paragraph-specific, so you don’t have to worry about the rest of your document’s formatting being altered.


  1. Open your Google Doc.
  2. Highlight the text for the indent.
  3. Make sure the ruler is visible.
  4. Adjust the Left Indent for the second line.
  5. Adjust the First Line Indent if necessary.


Indenting the second line in Google Docs is a breeze once you know the steps. Whether you’re writing an academic paper, creating a professional report, or crafting a bibliography, knowing how to format your document properly is crucial. With the simple use of the ruler tool, you can achieve a clean, consistent look that meets formatting guidelines and enhances readability.

Remember, the key to perfecting this formatting technique is practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. So don’t be afraid to dive in and give it a try. And if you ever get stuck, just refer back to the tips and FAQs sections for a little extra guidance.

Knowing how to indent the second line in Google Docs is a valuable skill for anyone who uses this word processor regularly. Now that you’re armed with this knowledge, go ahead and apply it to your next document. Your readers will appreciate the clarity and professionalism it brings to your work!