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This page says that \\ starts a new paragraph. However, it does not end up looking the same as inserting an empty line in my source code (which I have always used to define paragraphs), which also indents the new line. The latter describes the visual effect I am looking for, but since I am typing out a conversation (which means a lot of indented newlines), I hope to find a more elegant command for this, so I don't have to fill my source code with empty lines or \\ \indent everywhere. Is there such a command?

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Welcome to TeX.SE. Does \par do what you want? –  Peter Grill Jan 24 '13 at 1:22
    
Now that's what I was looking for. Thanks! I'm sure I've seen it before, but writing papers I got so used to the empty line I must have forgotten about its existence. Also, I noticed this gives the exact same visual effect as an empty line. {\\ indent} leaves just a little less room between the lines. Good to know. Thanks again. –  Mr.H Jan 24 '13 at 1:25
    
The reference is ambiguous. `\` does not start a new paragraph, but issues a new line/line break. –  Werner Jan 24 '13 at 1:41
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@Mr.H I’m afraid that web site might not be the best of resources in general. It’s definitely not up-to-date, as the screen shots indicate, next to a link to a LaTeX 2.09 file, references to outdated program versions ... As introductory lecture, I recommend The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX2ε, more are listed in What is the best book to start learning LaTeX? and LaTeX Introductions in languages other than English. –  doncherry Jan 24 '13 at 1:50
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@Mr.H The second bullet in that page, telling that \\* starts a new line but not a new paragraph is nonsense: it is a new line command with no intervening page break. The following description tells about \\ tells something nearer to the truth. The page personal.ceu.hu/tex/para.htm is about paragraphs and says rather different things. –  egreg Jan 24 '13 at 16:03

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

\\ produces a line break. \par produces a new paragraph. Inserting empty line between two lines to produce a new paragraph is a feature of (nowadays almost all) the editor.

Furthermore, \\ does not justify the last line before. If you want so you can use \linebreak.

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I see. So \\ does not start a new paragraph after all. I now also understand why \\ \indent looks just slightly different. Thanks to you, Sigur and Peter Grill. –  Mr.H Jan 24 '13 at 1:31
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What is a feature of the editor? That an empty line produces a new paragraph? That’s all *TeX’s work. –  Qrrbrbirlbel Jan 24 '13 at 1:50
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I think Sigur meant that most text-based editors do that for their text files (nl+cr). –  NVaughan Jan 24 '13 at 2:13

The page that you refer to is simply incorrect, you should not believe everything you read on the internet. The standard way to end a paragraph in TeX is to use a blank line, the command sequence \par is also available but not usually needed in documents, it is more useful in code sections.

If you are typesetting a structured text such as a dialog or poem etc, it usually helps to use more focussed markup than just using blank lines and paragraphs. For example

\begin{dialog}
\item[Mr. H] How do you make a paragraph?
\item[Random Website] Use \verb|\\|.
\item[Sigur] Use a blank line or \verb|\par|
\item[David] You may want to use a list structure rather than paragraphs.
\end{dialog}

It's a feature of a markup system like LaTeX that you can choose the markup you want independently from how you want the result to be typeset. A simple implementation of the above would be

\newenvironment{dialog}{\description}{\enddescription}

But other definitions could produce other layouts from the same input.

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