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I have the below code :

\documentclass[12pt]{book}
\usepackage{lipsum}

\begin{document}

\lipsum[1]
\lipsum[1]

\end{document}

I would like to be able to define the margins of new paragraphs. I am a web guy so I will give an example with CSS for what I am trying to do :

p{margin-top: 10px;margin-bottom: 5px;} 

how can I apply that?

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Typography is quite different from producing a web page. What's good for web pages is not necessarily good for printed pages. –  egreg Oct 20 '11 at 21:01
    
@egreg what I am experiencing is that two paragraphs looks really inside each other right now. So, is there any way to do that? –  tugberk Oct 20 '11 at 21:06
    
\setlength{\parskip}{10pt} –  cmhughes Oct 20 '11 at 21:09
    
That's the usual way to set text; the initial indent tells the reader that a new paragraph starts. Spacing paragraphs is bad for two reasons: it interrupts the flow of reading and destroys the uniformity of grey on the page. It may be good for short texts, not for longer ones. –  egreg Oct 20 '11 at 21:09
    
@tugbrek setting-up a margin-top and a margin-bottom does not make sense neither for webpages not for typography. If you have a paragraph sandwiched between two others are you going to allow a top+bottom from the previous one? –  Yiannis Lazarides Oct 20 '11 at 21:23
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1 Answer

up vote 6 down vote accepted

TeX has no notion of space before and after paragraphs, but only of space between paragraphs. This space is, by default, zero, but with a small degree of flexibility, in order to help filling up a page when flush bottoms are requested (as in the book class, not in article).

The relevant parameter is \parskip: a declaration such as

\setlength{\parskip}{15pt plus 1pt minus 2pt}

tells TeX to space paragraph by 15pt, reducible to 13 or enlarged to 16. Such a spacing will disappear at page breaks.

However, many respected typographers frown upon paragraph spacing, that interrupts the flow of reading and spoils the uniformity of the page. While paragraph spacing may be considered for documents such as letters, it's really not recommended for longer texts.

Make a selection of books printed by good publishers and count how many of them use paragraph spacing: you'll find only a few, if any.

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