How should I use \paragraph? I mean, If I want to put "Characteristics", should I put \paragraph{Characteristics} or \paragraph{Characteristics:}. Or is it up to me which one to use?

4 Answers 4


I think a colon would look bad, but a period looks good. Not having it can look strange since you end up with something like

Title    Another word starting with a capital letter.

as opposed to

Title.   The start of a thought.

The "Title Another" looks odd to me.

  • Yes. Without the period, the result doesn't look good.
    – Tomas
    Nov 1, 2010 at 4:49
  • Forgot to do that. ;)
    – Tomas
    Nov 1, 2010 at 21:02
  • 3
    Why LaTeX doesn't add a point automatically? Is there a way to do so?
    – lumbric
    Apr 23, 2012 at 17:32
  • Actually it wasn't too difficult to solve this on my own. I added an answer.
    – lumbric
    Apr 30, 2012 at 12:43
  • There's also the option to change the appearance of the paragraph in the ToC: \paragraph[Characteristics]{Characteristics.}. This way the . doesn't show up in the ToC (if set up to show paragraphs).
    – v01pe
    Nov 10, 2020 at 11:09

In the standard classes, a horizontal space of 1em will separate the paragraph title and the following text; therefore there's no need for ending the title with a colon. Of course, this is no "hard-and-fast"-rule - a colon would be more out of place at the end of a section title (which is by default vertically separated from the following text).

EDIT: In response to TH.'s answer: I'll endorse a period at the end of a paragraph title provided that the space after it is reduced to a normal word space. A period plus a gap of 1em looks like overkill to me (but then, I'm a fan of \frenchspacing.)

  • What about points (.)? Should I put them in titles or not?
    – Tomas
    Oct 27, 2010 at 22:46
  • 1
    IMO, no - I don't know good examples of titles that end with a point.
    – lockstep
    Oct 27, 2010 at 22:48
  • I meant paragraph titles. TH's answer would answer that.
    – Tomas
    Nov 1, 2010 at 4:50

Automatically place a period at the end of paragraph titles

I just solved my own question (from the comment). Put this into the preamble:


If you don't want a period, you can use something like \paragraph[?]{Title}, then a '?' will be placed at the end instead of a period.

Warning: I'm not sure if this is an ugly soliton (there might be problems with the TOC for example). Edits of this answer are welcome... :)

Minimal example




Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam auctor vulputate massa. Cras eu arcu non nisl tempor rhoncus. Sed tortor ipsum, molestie non gravida ut, tempor quis lacus. Sed quis nisi sit amet nibh elementum bibendum quis ut erat. 

Nulla facilisi. Cras et diam massa. Suspendisse congue leo at nunc ultrices cursus. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Donec sed scelerisque odio. Morbi ac neque erat, id porta turpis. Donec mollis velit ac turpis blandit blan.

Nunc placerat libero vel mauris dignissim quis porttitor felis accumsan. Sed condimentum iaculis ultricies. Vestibulum accumsan volutpat mi ac ultricies. Mauris luctus luctus facilisis.


Output of minimal example

  • 5
    There will certainly be problems with the ToC. Would rather do \newcommand{Paragraph}{\paragraph{#1}} or similar.
    – yannisl
    Apr 30, 2012 at 12:50
  • I don't include paragraphs in the ToC, but I didn't want to change all \paragraph{} commands in my document. This could be done easily with search & replace, but I'm using LyX and therefore it is more comfortable not to change anything. But I'd be curious, if you expect also other problems (except the ToC).
    – lumbric
    Apr 30, 2012 at 14:52
  • 1
    If is for your own document alone is ok as the other matter is one of convention. If I was reviewing your text I would be puzzled over the paragraph[?]. The older you might also get puzzled one day as to what your younger you did!
    – yannisl
    Apr 30, 2012 at 18:02
  • 1
    Incidentally, how would I add paragraph space? Aug 26, 2019 at 8:45
  • This is very useful IMHO. As \paragraph has a * variant and an optional [toctitle] you can also change the way it shows (or doesn't show) in the ToC. Use \renewcommand{\paragraph}[2][.]{\originalparagraph*{#2#1}} if you don't want the paragraph to show in the ToC at all, or \renewcommand{\paragraph}[2][.]{\originalparagraph[#2]{#2#1}} if you want it to show in the ToC, but without the dot.
    – v01pe
    Nov 10, 2020 at 10:55

Regarding periods after titles: I believe the standard is: Unless a title is a complete declarative sentence, it should not be followed by a period. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_stop

  • This may very well be subject to a house style. For example, a theorem heading can be considered a title, but it is almost always followed by a period, "Theorem 5.", especially when the following text is run in. Jan 16, 2022 at 17:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .