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I am writing a document in which I would like to be able to use different kinds of paragraph breaks. I want to use indented first lines without a parskip for most of the new paragraphs, but for slightly bigger jumps in the subject matter I want to have a blank line (or at least a nonzero parskip). See the example below.

I am currently using line breaks (\\) in combination with blank lines, but I am aware that this is bad form. Is tere an elegant way to do this without having to redefine parskip every time I want a blank line?


Example:

First paragraph
    Second paragraph, indented.

    Third paragraph indented and with a blank line.
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    Use \medskip between the paragraphs you want to have a vertical skip: <end of par><blank line>\medskip<blank line><new par> – egreg Jun 17 '14 at 14:57
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    It's not "bad form" to use \\ at the end of a paragraph, it's simply wrong:-) you could use a blank line followed by \bigskip or whatever or better really consider it as an untitled section eg use \paragraph*{} and if necessary adjust the spacing specified for that heading. – David Carlisle Jun 17 '14 at 14:57
  • @egreg Elegant and easy, perfect! I can't believe I didn't see that before or thought of it myself. – LSchoon Jun 17 '14 at 15:03
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My usual reaction about this is asking “why would you want an empty line to begin with?”

I find this useless, in general. I'm not excluding that, in some selected cases, a vertical space between two paragraph can convey some meaning, but my impression is that this is mostly due to the influence of word processors; blank lines are common in texts produced with word processors, due to the fact that it's very easy to make them: just hit the Enter key twice.

This said, you can obtain what you want with a very simple device:

This is a long paragraph with very interesting ideas. This is a long
paragraph with very interesting ideas. This is a long paragraph with
very interesting ideas. This is a long paragraph with very interesting
ideas.

\medskip

This is a long paragraph with very interesting ideas. This is a long
paragraph with very interesting ideas. This is a long paragraph with
very interesting ideas. This is a long paragraph with very interesting
ideas.

Maybe you can go a step further and define

\newcommand{\parbreak}{\par\medskip}

in your preamble and use \parbreak instead of \medskip. This has the advantage that you can select the amount of spacing in the final stage of document production. You can even modify the definition of \parbreak to do nothing and make me happy.

  • To answer your question: I want to signify different sizes of jumps in subject matter. No skips and indents for matter that 'flows' almost without jumping, an added line break for slightly bigger changes. I don't want to use a lot of subsubsections etc. for this, since that will clutter up the document. That said, your solution works beautifully and allows for nice LaTeX-style 'change everything at once' coding. Thank you. – LSchoon Jun 17 '14 at 15:26
  • @LSchoon Remember you can use \paragraph{…}. @egreg A small question. does it matter if you use {\medskip\par} instead of {\par\medskip\par} as you suggested? Si there a real benefit? – Manuel Jun 17 '14 at 15:29
  • @Manuel You should have a \par before any vertical skip, the one after isn't really needed. – David Carlisle Jun 17 '14 at 15:38
  • @DavidCarlisle That's why I asked, I do use text\medskip<blank line>text and it works. What happens? – Manuel Jun 17 '14 at 15:48
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    @Manuel before is better, the one after doesn't do anything so long as there is one before. – David Carlisle Jun 17 '14 at 15:55

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