By default LaTeX will

  • not indent the first paragraph after a section heading
  • indent every following paragraph
  • not insert a space between paragraphs
first paragraph which is not indented
second paragraph which is indented but no space in between the paragraphs

So far I like this behavior for longer paragraphs but sometimes there are only very short paragraphs (only one line) or kind of preceding lines before a listing. They become indented as well which sometimes looks very odd.


Very short first line

--Indented Line of a longer Paragraph. This is an example for a longer paragraph which becomes indented and fills more then only one line

--This is an example line being indented, looking odd:

  1. here comes an example listing

  2. announced by the odd-looking short indented line

Is there a way to have short single lines not automatically not indented but separated by blank lines?


That's the behaviour I would like. Indentation only for paragraphs which follow paragraphs. But by default even a paragraph after a table or listing is beeing indented.

from German Wikipedia

In modern books usually only paragraphs following paragraphs are indented. The first paragraph after a heading, after a blank line or other insertions--longer quotes, drawings, tables, listings etc.--starts flush left.

Further more I think single line paragraphs shouldn't be indented. The probably should be avoided or start flush left.

  • 1
    I'd say that "the remedy is worse than the disease". The indent conveys also a meaning; there should never be two different typographical devices that share the meaning.
    – egreg
    Oct 3, 2011 at 13:11
  • You would leave this single line in front of the listing indented? But then there's automatically a blank line before the listing.
    – Sebastian
    Oct 3, 2011 at 13:20
  • The vertical space before the list is a design decision by the class author. I'd say that a space before the line in front of it will be very misleading to the reader. What I would do depends on the text; most frequently the "one liner" can be left with the preceding paragraph (this may require editing the text).
    – egreg
    Oct 3, 2011 at 13:27
  • For the short paragraphs \setlength{\parskip}{\baselineskip} looks nice, but then the real paragraphs needn't to be indented anymore since they're separated by blank lines then as well. Well or I just use \ \`? Another thing I noticed: the minute I use \setlength{\parskip}{\baselineskip}` the spacing between section heading and first paragraph get's bigger then one line. Is there a way to avoid this?
    – Sebastian
    Oct 3, 2011 at 13:29

1 Answer 1


I think that's rather simple, use the parskip package, it will take care of that automatically as well as of a host of other (more intricate) spacing problems to have a visually appealing document. :)

  • 3
    Jan Tschichold was a follower of "modernist typography" that advocated, among other things, the use of paragraph spacing instead of the indent. Later he changed his mind and wrote a paper about "why paragraph should be indented".
    – egreg
    Oct 3, 2011 at 13:16
  • @egreg you have a reference for Tschicold's change of mind?
    – yannisl
    Oct 3, 2011 at 14:02
  • @YiannisLazarides mantex.co.uk/2009/07/20/the-form-of-the-book
    – egreg
    Oct 3, 2011 at 14:09
  • Wow, crazy prices: $122 from Amazon, £122 from Amazon UK Oct 3, 2011 at 19:44
  • @egreg the link is dead now (404)
    – Ooker
    Dec 13, 2017 at 8:47

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