PowerPoint 2013: Indents and Line Spacing

Lesson 15: Indents and Line Spacing



Indentation and line spacing are two important features you can use to change the way text appears on a slide. Indentation can be used to create multilevel lists or to visually set paragraphs apart from one another. Line spacing can be adjusted to improve readability or to fit more lines on the slide

Optional: Download our practice presentation.

To indent text:

Indenting helps to format the layout of text so it appears more organized on your slide. The fastest way to indent is to use the Tab key. An alternative method of creating an indent is to use one of the Indent commands. With these commands, you can either increase or decrease the indent.

  • To indent using the Tab key: Place the insertion point at the very beginning of the line you want to indent, then press the Tab key.

    Screenshot of PowerPoint 2013An indent created with the Tab key
  • To indent using the Indent commands: Place the insertion point at the very beginning of the line you want to indent. From the Home tab, press the Increase Indent or Decrease Indent command.

    Screenshot of PowerPoint 2013An indent created with the Increase Indent command

To decrease an indent, select the desired line, then press Shift+Tab.

Indenting lists and paragraphs

Indenting will give different results, depending on whether you are working with a list or a paragraph:

  • List: Indenting a line of a list creates a multilevel list. This means the indented line is a subtopic of the line above it. Multilevel lists are useful if you want to create an outline or hierarchy.

    Screenshot of PowerPoint 2013A multilevel list
  • Paragraph: Indenting the first line of a paragraph using the Tab key creates a first-line indent. This helps to separate paragraphs from each other. If you want to indent all of the lines of a paragraph, you can use the Indent commands.

    Screenshot of PowerPoint 2013A first line indent

Once you've created a multilevel list, you may want to choose a different bullet style for different levels of the list to make them stand out even more.

Screenshot of PowerPoint 2013A multilevel list

Fine tuning indents

Sometimes you may want to fine tune the indents in your presentations. You can do this by adjusting the indent markers on the ruler. By default, the ruler is hidden, so you'll first need to show the ruler.

To show the ruler:

  1. Select the View tab on the Ribbon.
  2. In the Show group, check the box next to Ruler. The ruler will appear.

    Screenshot of PowerPoint 2013Showing the ruler

Indent markers

Indent markers are located to the left of the horizontal ruler, and they provide several indenting options:

  • First-line indent marker Bar Tab Icon: Adjusts the first line of a paragraph
  • Hanging indent marker Bar Tab Icon: Adjusts every line of a paragraph except for the first line
  • Left indent marker Bar Tab Icon: Moves both the first-line indent and hanging indent markers at the same time; this will indent all lines in a paragraph

    Screenshot of PowerPoint 2013The three indent markers

To indent using the indent markers:

  1. Place the insertion point anywhere in the paragraph where you want to indent, or select one or more paragraphs.
  2. Click, hold, and drag the desired indent marker. In our example, we'll drag the hanging indent marker.

    Screenshot of PowerPoint 2013Moving a paragraph
  3. Release the mouse. The paragraph will be indented.

    Screenshot of PowerPoint 2013An indented paragraph

Customizing bullet spacing

When working with lists, PowerPoint allows you to adjust the space between a bullet and the text by using the first-line indent marker or the hanging indent marker. The ability to increase and decrease the indentation allows you to customize lists to meet your needs.

To change the bullet spacing:

  1. Select the lines you want to change.
  2. On the ruler, drag the first-line indent marker to the right or left. The bullet will move independently from the text. Alternatively, you can drag the hanging indent marker to move the text without moving the bullet.

    Screenshot of PowerPoint 2013Moving bullets

Line spacing

PowerPoint allows you to adjust the amount of space between each line in a list or paragraph. You can reduce the line spacing to fit more lines on a slide, or you can increase it to improve readability. In some instances, PowerPoint may automatically change the font size when you adjust the line spacing, so increasing the line spacing too much may cause the text to be too small.

To format line spacing:

  1. Select the text you want to format.
  2. On the Home tab, locate the Paragraph group, then click the Line Spacing command.
  3. Select the desired line spacing from the menu that appears.

    Screenshot of PowerPoint 2013Changing the line spacing

If you want to adjust the line spacing with even more precision, select Line Spacing Options from the drop-down menu. The Paragraph dialog box will open, allowing you to fine-tune the line spacing and also adjust the paragraph spacing, which is the amount of spacing that is added before and after each paragraph.

Screenshot of PowerPoint 2013The Paragraph dialog box


  1. Open an existing PowerPoint presentation. If you want, you can download our practice presentation.
  2. Indent some of the lines in a list. If you're using the example, indent the last line on slide 4.
  3. Add an indent to a paragraph. If you're using the example, indent the second paragraph on slide 2.
  4. Show the ruler.
  5. Move a bullet by dragging the first-line indent marker.
  6. Change the line spacing. If you're using the example, change the line spacing on slide 4.