# Why do I need to use \paragraph{} after a \section{} to get correct indenting whereas a blank line suffices for subsequent paragraphs?

I have noticed that whenever I start a new section, subsection, etc., I need to preface my text block with \paragraph{} to get correct indentation for the first paragraph. In subsequent paragraphs, however, I note that I can simply leave an empty line and the paragraph is formatted correctly.

Is this correct behaviour, and if so what is the reason for this? Is the first paragraph supposed to be naturally unindented, perhaps for the reason of compatibility with lettrines and such? Is there an easier (terser) way to stipulate first-paragraph indentation?

I'm using the article documentclass under xelatex.

Thanks for any insight you can offer.

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P.S. Do not do this! – Will Robertson Sep 2 '10 at 23:57
Do not do what? – Richard Terrett Sep 3 '10 at 7:47
Do not use `\paragraph{}` for formatting purposes. Ever! – Will Robertson Sep 8 '10 at 10:04
– Qrrbrbirlbel Jun 7 '13 at 22:22

This is the expected behavior. If you look into any book, you will see that the first paragraph of each chapter/section is not indented. The indentation is there to signify the start of a new paragraph and thus is not necessary for the first paragraph.

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Thanks for this clarification. The rationale certainly makes sense, however not all texts follow this indenting pattern - I'm looking at a paper from geochim. cosmochim. acta which does indent first paragraphs after sections. – Richard Terrett Sep 1 '10 at 9:51
@eutactic: Unfortunately, some journals and the like have poor style requirements which they keep for the sake of uniformity. ACM conference style, for example, is simply awful. – TH. Sep 1 '10 at 10:04
Does not this rule depend on the selected language? I think that in French, the first paragraph is indented. – pluton Mar 10 '11 at 13:11
@pluton Yes the french option to babel changes that (and some other global things too—see the documentation). – Caramdir Mar 10 '11 at 17:00

It is correct behaviour and the reason is that you don't need to show with an indent that a paragraph starts here as everyone knows that after a section title a new paragraph starts. You can change this with indentfirst package.

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That package is very handy, thankyou. This said, in reference to what you and Caramdir have said regarding standard conventions, it may also be extraneous. – Richard Terrett Sep 1 '10 at 9:54
@eutactic: Well, the ACM might find it useful ;-P – SamB Nov 23 '10 at 18:00

What perhaps isn't obvious from the other answers is that `\paragraph{}` is a part of the sectioning hierarchy, coming between `\subsubsection{}` and `\subparagraph{}`.

With the right levels of `{tocdepth}` and `{secnumdepth}`, you can even make it appear in the TOC with a lunatic prefix like 1.3.1.1.

-->cont it could decide to make `\parindent0pt` for the subsequent paragraph. I don't see why, as Will Robertson said (in your question), TeX would have to go back and do something to redo an already finished page. – bev Nov 27 '10 at 0:24