# Change the Space Between Paragraphs Without Messing up Other Parts of the Document

For quite some time I was trying to adjust the space between paragraphs by tweaking parskip but after asking two question in here I saw that messing around with it is not a good idea. That is because parskip is a variable that is present in a lot of places within a document (for example in the space between section and subsection titles and in lists). So with every answer in my questions I got even more questions!

This seems to me something that must be easily achieved because it is pretty straighforward and also something that people tweak a lot. Nevertheless I haven't managed to find a good way to do it without changing other aspects of the document.

So all in all:

1. If someone wants to "safely" change only the space between the paragraphs without mess up other places in the document what is the best way to succeed it?

2. Why is it such a big deal to simply put extra space between paragraphs? I simply can't understand why there is so much fuss about it!

• I think you have to restrict your question to the first part (the No 1.) The second is something out of the purposes of the forum... (too broad etc). – koleygr Jan 21 '18 at 6:34
• @koleygr You may be right but I think it is relevant to the question because if parskip is so much of a trouble we may very well include as to why that is. Also having seen a lot of answers being literally pages long I don't think that an answer to this question will be an issue, even if it is extensive. :) – Adam Jan 21 '18 at 6:43
• I just wanted to say that you can rephrase this specific question not to seem like too broad. For example, you could ask for a list of changes in the document after changing the parskip (real specific and get your answer too without risk of comments like mine :P). Also this would help me to give you an answer (because I could include to the environments that are affected a negative \vspace or \vskip after redefining them) – koleygr Jan 21 '18 at 6:48
• @koleygr Oh I see. The thing is that I have searched extensively for such questions to no avail so generally from what I saw is that it is far better to not change the parskip. The reason that this question is phrased like that is because I don't want to touch parskip! :P Except of course if there is a way to not mess up the rest of the document... – Adam Jan 21 '18 at 6:53
• I am not sure what answer this question can have other than the answers you already know. If you are designing a document layout which has visible space between paragraphs, you would start by setting \parskip and then specify space around headings, lists, math displays etc taking account of the pararagraph space already added. If on the other hand you just want to alter an existing layout that was not designed with an option for non-zero paragraph space, then you need to adjust whatever lengths need adjusting, that depends on the class, how many environments it defined. – David Carlisle Jan 21 '18 at 9:49

You (or a class that you choose) need to change \parskip. The question (which only you can answer) is "what do you consider to be a paragraph?"

If you are designing a document layout which has visible space between paragraphs, you would start by setting \parskip and then specify space around headings, lists, math displays etc taking account of the paragraph space already added. If on the other hand you just want to alter an existing layout that was not designed with an option for non-zero paragraph space, then you need to adjust whatever lengths need adjusting, that depends on the class, how many environments it defined. the parskip package tries to make a reasonable guess at doing this for the standard classes such as article although as it notes in its documentation this is not really as good as designing a class with this option from the start.

To see why it is not such a simple question, consider some examples.

list items are paragraphs so by default they will be affected, if you want them to not have extra space you need to reset their definition to add less space.

Section headings come between paragraphs, so changing parskip adds space (that would be there if the heading were not present) that may or may not make the space around the heading look too much so you may need to adjust spacing around section headings to add less space, and so it goes on.

Note for section headings you probably want to choose some length based on some under specified notion of what looks good. If you have a large \parskip and that is added to the space already added around display headings then they may look too spaced out, but conversely if you were to automatically suppress all the \parskip space near a section heading you could find that section headings are more closely spaced than just a normal paragraph break, which would be odd, so really the entire document design as implemented in the class needs to be reconsidered if paragraph spacing is changed.

That said, for most documents most of the time, choosing a common class where this has been considered in advance (Koma classes and memoir have options for this or the NTG artikel3 class is a variant of article with non zero parskip) or using parskip package to adjust the settings in the standard classes works in a reasonable way.