A question about the readability of hanging indents in print

Large amounts of copy are way more readable for me when the paragraphs are divided by hanging indents (instead of standard first-line indentation). I’m not really sure why, but it’s way easier on my eyes.

Here are some examples that don’t have a 0pt indent after the end of a paragraph:

hanging vs standard (EDIT: used a better example)

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I wouldn’t be too concerned about it if I was spacing out the paragraphs like this, but I usually don’t. Now I’m just an amateur. The first example is more readable and appealing to me, but I have no real-life clue about how people generally perceive the readability of hanging indents.

Are there any professional designers/typographers/editors who could give me some idea about how people feel about this? Is it more readable for others too? Do publishers prefer first-line indentation because of the amount of space it saves on the page? Are there standards for when and where this type of paragraph formatting is used?

Thanks a lot in advance for the insight.


I’ve designed an art book before with hanging indents but I had huge margins which made it look a lot better. I think both can work but having hanging indents would indeed cost more in terms of paper because they would require more space to look good. There are many other factors that will play on legibility.

I would only design with hanging indents if I had the text beforehand and that I knew it would be a one time thing. You might get some surprised depending on what kind of content you will need to accomodate (beginning with small words, numbers, etc.) Standard indents have proven successful and are safer IMO, people are used to reading them. But if hanging makes sense conceptually or gives a bit more “oomph” that adds to your design, I’d say go for it, you might catch someone’s attention!

Source : Link , Question Author : Nickolas Peter O’Malley , Answer Author : curious

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