I've always used the word "exdented" when describing a paragraph of text (or, more usually, a section of computer code) where the first line is set further left than the remainder of the paragraph/block - essentially the opposite of "indented".

However, it appears that exdent isn't really a word - it's not in the Oxford dictionaries, Websters, or Wiktionary, as far as I can tell. So, is there a better word? Is there one that typographers and typesetters use?

(In the ancient UNIX text formatting package nroff, the -ms macro set included a .XP command to achieve the effect. This stood for "exdented paragraph" and I suspect that's where my usage comes from, but that doesn't mean it's the right term!)

Oblig. sample sentence: "The first line of the code block should be <exdented> to identify a new block"

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    I use outdented. – Dan Bron Apr 29 '16 at 14:30
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  • The word outdented, though uncommon, seems to be the most widely accepted for general use. You do bring computer languages into the picture, however. In connection with computer programming, and specifically in connection with the indention-sensitive Python programming language, the standard term is dedent / dedented. – PellMel Apr 29 '16 at 15:21
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    Sounds like it's better suited to User Experience, but I could be wrong. – NVZ Apr 30 '16 at 4:53
  • "Ancient" is stretching it. – tchrist May 1 '16 at 3:29

A search for antonyms unearths Dan Bron's suggestion, outdent.

Outdent verb To indent negatively, bring towards the margin. By default, the summary tasks are bold and outdented, and the subtasks are indented beneath them. - wikitionary

The link also defines the noun form as hanging paragraph, but it would sound a little odd to say that the code block should be hung, not least because of the association between hanging code and buggy code.

Although the word outdent is not widely used, it has a credible reference, namely, Microsoft, which produces a word processor that is widely used:

You can also create a negative indent (also known as an outdent), which pulls the paragraph out toward the left margin.

If you are undoing an indent, the line would be unindented, as MatthewC notes. It would be odd, though to describe the very first line of code as unindented without prior indenting. For a typeset paragraph, outdent doesn't assume a prior indent, though calling it negatively indented sounds more fluent. In your case, namely, "where the first line is set further left than the remainder of the paragraph/block", if that first line starts in the same column as the line before it, you might simply say that it is not indented.

Take this block for example, with line numbers purely for reference:

1        void f() {
2            init();
3    // TODO: add exception-handling
4            helloWorld();
5        }

Line 1 is not indented, lines 2 and 4 are indented, line 3 is outdented or negatively indented, and line 5 is unindented.

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    The reason there is no similar antonym here is that the word indent comes from the Latin in + dentare, the same root as dent meaning tooth, and all things to do with teeth dentist, and something being dented. So it has to do with implosion inwards, like something which has been bitten. I haven't been able to find an equivalent Latin word meaning bashed outwards. – WS2 Apr 29 '16 at 16:24
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    I'm accepting this answer as I think "outdented" is a good description of the situation I'm trying to describe, and also for the code block with comparison of indented, outdented, and unindented. – Rob Gilliam May 1 '16 at 8:35
  • @RobGilliam Thanks! Just a follow-up thought: the first line of code in a file may be said to be unindented in the stative sense the same way a symphony may be unfinished, but not in the dynamic sense of an undo unless it had previously been indented. – Lawrence May 1 '16 at 9:27

As a long time programmer, the only term I've ever heard used is unindented.

Unindent makes it clear that you are referring to the opposite of the word indent, and not referring to some type of formatting.

outdent sounds like a text formatting word, not a code formatting word.

Unindent is clear, and programmer-friendly.

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    I disagree. I think the OP is looking for a word he can use to describe code that is not indented, not just for a word that is an antonym. The word the OP wants must be usable in a context and conversation in a development environment. – Matt C Apr 30 '16 at 5:34
  • I removed that comment just now, because on second reading the question, I changed my mind. +1 – arrivalin Apr 30 '16 at 5:36
  • Don't remove it! I think it's a good point to make, and our conversation can help other users become more insightful about this question. – Matt C Apr 30 '16 at 5:36
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    Especially as I was actually reading this yesterday when the comment disappeared! (Confusing) – Rob Gilliam May 1 '16 at 8:20

I don't believe there is a single-word adjective in common usage that describes what you want; I've always taken notes in this style, and if you said "outdented" to me (the closest thing, as others have pointed out) it would definitely take me a minute. Officially, this style is referred to as a hanging indent: http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/H/hanging_indent.html

But I've never seen it in any form other than the noun, so you might have to reconstruct some sentences.

  • I think this covers cases where all but the first line is indented relative to the rest of the text (hence the upvote), but probably doesn't apply if the first line is outdented relative to the rest of the text, with the rest of the paragraph in line. – Rob Gilliam May 1 '16 at 8:23

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