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When I use \paragraph{...}, the vertical spaces in general are too big. I need to manually put \vspace{-5em} in front to adjust the spacing. It is not robust and unnatural. One reason may be that I have many big formulas (with many lines). Does anyone know a good way to adjust this vertical spacing automatically?

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a minimal working example (MWE) would be helpful. at least the document class you are using is necessary, since that is where the initial definition of \paragraph is made. and a question about your big formulas -- do you input them separately, or do you use something like the amsmath multi-line structures? –  barbara beeton Dec 15 '12 at 15:23
    
Thanks barbara beeton, I am using amsmath. The documentary class is book (I am writing my thesis). For the formulas, I use align, multline, etc. :-) –  Anand Dec 16 '12 at 21:32
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2 Answers

\setlength{\parskip}{1ex plus 0.5ex minus 0.2ex}
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\parskip is not directly related to the \paragraph command (which is a section heading) The code in this answer will affect the spacing of every paragraph in the document. –  David Carlisle Dec 16 '12 at 15:01
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\paragraph in article class is defined by

\newcommand\paragraph{\@startsection{paragraph}{4}{\z@}%
                                    {3.25ex \@plus1ex \@minus.2ex}%
                                    {-1em}%
                                    {\normalfont\normalsize\bfseries}}

so the skip before is 3.25 ex by default, so adding a negative -5em spacing would almost always make it over-print the preceding text.

You can repeat the above definition use \renewcommand instead of \newcommand and reduce the spacing. (It would need to be in a local package or between \makeatletter and \makeatother because of the @ in the command name.)

Are you sure you need to use \paragraph at all? It is not a commonly used command, it is just for 4th level sections after \section \subsection and \subsubsection

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It's probably better to mention \makeatletter and \makeatother –  egreg Dec 16 '12 at 17:13
    
@egreg answer edited:-) –  David Carlisle Dec 16 '12 at 17:24
    
Dear David Carlisle, thank you very much for your answer. I am using (intensively) paragraph environment in my proofs to indicate different cases. Probably this is not a good habit. I am writing my thesis, so the documentary class is "book". –  Anand Dec 16 '12 at 21:37
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so in book, there is \chapter above \section so \paragraph (command, not an environment) is intended to be 5th level subsections. You haven't shown how you are using it but as I said originally there is something strange if you are getting so much space that -5em space is not causing overprinting. –  David Carlisle Dec 16 '12 at 21:41
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