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I am a bit confused about what characteristics of the page are controlled by: \parskip, \baselineskip, \topskip.

About \parskip I know it controls the space between paragraphs.

But is it the same value across the document or it has some “flexibility”? It seems, for example, to has a different value in a paragraph between Title and subtitle that in one between subtitle and text. Am I right?

Are there simple ways to control all different “parskips” in the .tex file?

Some examples about those three will be welcome.

  • 3
    The term paragraph here does not denote a sectional unit with a title, but a unit of ordinary text that TeX splits in lines. Usually, there's no parskip, but paragraph are made distinct by a small indentation of the first line of the paragraph called \parindent. – Bernard May 27 '17 at 21:52
  • @Bernard haven't read this comment. Thanks Bernard – santimirandarp May 7 '18 at 0:35
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\parskip adds some "glue" between each paragraph. As I understand it, "glue" in LaTeX means, that it is not something fixed but it can adapt a bit according to what fills the space on a page best. This vertical empty space is inserted between every paragraph but not before the first or after the last one on a page. But it does influence the spacing between eg. a section heading and the beginning of the text.
There is a package called parskip which should be used if you want to use spacing between paragraphs instead of indentation in the standard classes like article.

\baselineskip influences the spaceing between two lines. But if you want to change the linespreading you should instead use the package setspace because that changes the linespacing for text but excludes captions, footnotes etc. from the setting which is normally wanted.

\topskip specifies the vertical spacing of the first line of a page in relation to the default.

\parindent by default LaTeX indents every paragraph except from the first one after a new heading. The indentation of the other paragraphs can be changed with this command.


For comparison lets look at a default \documentclass{article} in LaTeX (with the package showframe to visualise the separation at the top)

enter image description here

and one where we set

\topskip=40pt
\parskip=10pt
\parindent=0pt
\baselineskip=15pt

enter image description here

  • I think you meant topskip not topsep (and better to say it specifies the first baseline on the page rather than it adds space) – David Carlisle May 27 '17 at 22:29
  • \parindent is a TeX feature. See the TeXbook page 474. – ceving Apr 15 at 13:15

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