Hanging Indents for Citation Bibliographies in MS Word

Formatting Hanging Indent Bibliographic entries with Styles in Microsoft Word

By Donald G. McGahan

Unformatted text of citations

Typically citations are formatted with a hanging indent with a bit more space between each citation. Following are three citations:

McGahan, D.G., R.J. Southard and V.P. Claassen. 2008. Tectonic Inclusions in Serpentinite Landscapes Contribute Plant Nutrient Calcium. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 72:837-846. http://dx.doi.org/10.2136/sssaj2007.0159

Daniel Eric Rider, Donald McGahan, Victor Claassen., 2006. Ammonium Fixation in Selected California Decomposed Granites. Plant and Soil 289:289 – 300. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11104-006-9138-8

McGahan, D.G., R.J. Southard and R.J. Zasoski., 2003. Mineralogical comparison of agriculturally-acidified and naturally-acidic soils. Geoderma 114:355 – 368. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0016- 7061(03)00049-1

How To Make a New Style

The following text is in the Style of Body Text.

Body Text uses Arial font at 10.5 points, and 6 points following each paragraph in paragraph settings. 

Notice that, unless you have changed the Normal Style in the version of word you are using, it looks terrible. 

In Microsoft Word 2003, pull down the Format menu and choose Styles and Formatting.  At the bottom Show All styles.  Scroll through the formatting you can apply and look for Body Text Hanging Indent, Hanging Indent, Normal Hanging Indent, Reference, or Reference Hanging Indent.  You probably will NOT see one of these.  

Let’s make one.

  • Highlight the text you wish to format. 
  • Choose Normal Indent from the formatting you can apply list. 
  • Right click on Normal Indent and choose Modify. 
  • At the top choose New Style… 
  • Fill in the name as Reference Hanging Indent. 
  • Fill in the Style for following paragraph as Reference Hanging Indent. 
  • Click OK. 

That is how to make a Style.  Now let’s dress it up how we want it to look.  

  • Right click Reference Hanging Indent in the Pick formatting to apply list and choose Modify. 
  • At the bottom left of the Modify dialog screen click format and choose Paragraph. 
  • At Indentations choose Hanging. 
  • Make it super clean by changing the spacing for After to 6 points.
  • While you are at it, you may want to pick a font and font size. In this example I have chosen Arial.  

You can now apply this style to any text and if you change the style every paragraph with the applied style will reflect the new style formatting. 

Copy and paste from document to document should transfer the style formatting with it.  Tabbed indentation changes with page width and where the tab stops are set might be different from machine/user to machine/user. So, if it looks wonky try comparing the tab stops first.

I like to make one for Body Text and also usually make one called References that is double spaced. 

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