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I intend to use scrbook. In real-life literature, English and German language, the text often looks like this:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy eirmod tempor invidunt ut labore et dolore magna aliquyam erat, sed diam voluptua.
    At vero eos et accusam et justo duo dolores et ea rebum. Stet clita kasd gubergren, no sea takimata sanctus est Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy eirmod tempor invidunt ut labore et dolore magna aliquyam erat, sed diam voluptua.
    At vero eos et accusam et justo duo dolores et ea rebum. Stet clita kasd gubergren, no sea takimata sanctus est Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

Especially in longer chapters there's often somewhere an empty line followed by a non-indented text. While the regular text often has new lines with indented text.

A popular example: The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on Amazon.com, scroll through it and you will see real-life text that is like this (Page 8 and 9 for example). Another example are the UK Discworld books by Terry Pratchett.

My questions:

  • Which of the two is a paragraph? The empty line or the indented new line?
  • What's the name of the other respectively?
  • What's the best way to achieve this in LaTeX?
    1. Redefine \newline to be indented and use parskip=half?
    2. Don't parskip and insert vspaces for the empty line?
    3. Another possibility?
  • Is this good style at all?
  • Any other hints or information I did not think about?
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3  
A paragraph is a semantic unit so it is hard to judge when just shown filler text (I know that's latin and does mean something but I doubt the meaning is what is intended here). It's not a style I have seen really unless the unindented paragraph is conceptually the start of a section or sequence of paragraphs. (The traditional idea being that the paragraph marker (or indentation space) is a paragraph separator so not needed before the first para just as you don't need , before the first item in a comma separated list, even though the first item is an item like all the others. –  David Carlisle Nov 8 '12 at 10:03
    
@DavidCarlisle I see this pretty often. Most of the books (English and German) in my shelf have this. For example, spoken text is always on a new line with indentation (But sometimes also thought text or just regular text). This is not what \newline does, but it's also not a paragraph. edit: Or go to Amazon and look into some books, you will find this in almost all literature. –  Foo Bar Nov 8 '12 at 10:15
    
Popular Example: The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, page 3. Has indented new lines and an empty line: amazon.de/Hitchhikers-Guide-Galaxy-Douglas-Adams/dp/0345391802/… –  Foo Bar Nov 8 '12 at 10:22
5  
OK looking at the HGtG example I think logically the blank lines are anonymous sections which (like sections with titles) suppress the indentation of the following paragaph. So that's probably how I'd mark them up in latex. –  David Carlisle Nov 8 '12 at 10:28
4  
It is (usually) a section break, I believe; and often used in novels to indicate the start of a new 'scene' that is not temporally or spatially (etc., etc.) connected with the previous paragraphs. I believe it is less common in academic writing, or at least it is in the stuff I read. I would mark them as such. memoir has many built-in commands for this (\plainbreak, \plainfancybreak, ...) which you could copy. –  jon Nov 8 '12 at 10:40
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1 Answer

up vote 7 down vote accepted

As mentioned in comments I think that usually in such circumstances the unindented paragraphs are logically section breaks with anonymous untitled sections. So like a titled section they suppress following indentation.

Spacing and font choice could be better and with acknowledgement to Douglas Adams, the except shown in the amazon fragment is I think logically something like this:

\documentclass{book}
\setcounter{secnumdepth}{0}

\begin{document}
\chapter{}

The house stood on a slight rise \ldots

The only person for whom the house was in any way special was Arthur Dent, and \ldots

\ldots bulldozer, found his slippers and stomped off to wash.

\vdots

Fifteen seconds later he was out of the house and lying in front of a big yellow bulldozer that was advancing up his garden path.

\section{}

Mr L. Prosser was, as they say, only human \ldots

He was by no means a great warrior \ldots
\end{document}

Which without any changes to the book layout produces this:

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
    
But in The Hitchhiker layout also spoken text would be a "paragraph" with this code. But semantically, spoken text belongs to the same paragraph, doesn't it? –  Foo Bar Nov 8 '12 at 10:51
    
Spoken text should be marked up as such within the same paragraph using \begin{quotation} or a custom environment with similar definition. Internally all such latex environments use tex-primitive paragraphs for the internal text but arranges that the following text is typeset as a continuation of the previous paragraph unless there is a blank line after the environment, so the logical structure of the document is preserved. –  David Carlisle Nov 8 '12 at 10:56
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