# Paragraph indents with optional line break

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.
``````
• 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
• 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

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
• @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