# description: paragraph as definition - get straight left margin for multi-line definition

With \item[keyword]explanation-that-goes-on-for-several-lines I get:

keyword this is the first line
this is the second line


But I'd like it like this

keyword this is the first line
this is the second line


I also tried with tabular, but then it didn't do line breaks at all!

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i haven't got time to test it now, but it seems to me that (assuming you have multiple definitions) you could pick the longest term being defined and apply \settowidth to determine the magnitude of the indent. –  barbara beeton Jul 27 '12 at 15:07

You need to make sure that \labelwidth is large enough to contain the widest label in the list.

\documentclass{article}
\begin{document}
\begin{list}{}{}
\item[keyword that is much too long] The quick brown fox jumps over
the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. The quick
brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
\end{list}
%

You can left align them by changing the definition of \makelabel. Try putting \renewcommand\makelabel[1]{#1\hfil} in the list declarations. –  Ian Thompson Jul 27 '12 at 15:26