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This is a general question about typesetting paragraphs. I was wondering if it is good (or acceptable) practice to mix two different kinds of paragraph skips in a document, e.g.

  • a "real" paragraph skip with let's say a blank line in between paragraphs
  • a "small" paragraph skip using only a linebreak

Here is a quick example using a KOMA-script class for convenience:

\documentclass[parskip=half*]{scrartcl}
\usepackage{lipsum}

\begin{document}
    This is the beginning of a new thought that deserves a new
    paragraph. It will probably stretch out over quite a few lines. The
    thought is a bit complex, so while everything that is necessary to
    explain it should be kept in one paragraph, it would be nice to have
    some additional \textit{within-paragraph} structure.\newline
    \lipsum[1][1-4]\newline
    \lipsum[1][5-7]

    This is the beginning of another thought that deserves a new paragraph.
    It will probably stretch over quite a few lines.\newline
    \lipsum[2][1-4]
\end{document}

example

The purist in me would argue that there should be one and only one type of paragraph skip. For what I am currently writing about, this results, however, either in very long paragraphs or very many quite short paragraphs. In the long paragraphs, it becomes hard to quickly identify logical sub-points that belong to the same super-point. The short paragraphs look odd if I stick to the parskip=half* setting and I lose the visual distinction between logical sub-points and new super-points.

I am looking forward to your thoughts and I am sorry if this question is too opinionated for this forum.

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  • The purist in me says that there should be no skip between paragraphs and an indentation at the start of each one. In some very rare cases something like \medskip might be added between two paragraphs, but quite likely this asks for a new sectioning level.
    – egreg
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 9:19
  • 2
    the design quesion is one thing but from an implementation never use \newline or \\ at the end of a paragraph What you show is not a new paragraph but a single paragraph with a forced line break (so for example widow and orphan calculations will be wrong) to get the design you want use a blank line for paragraphs and have a marker for a headless section with just the vertical skip, which can be essentially \bigskip or \section*{} Commented May 4, 2022 at 9:39

2 Answers 2

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I think that it is generally accepted that there should be no blank space between paragraphs. That is a "small paragraph skip" according to your question.

A more pronounced break between paragraphs to the reader indicates a change of topic/emphasis.

The memoir class (a superset of book and report) provides means of specifying "anonymous" breaks between paragraphs.

% anonbreakprob.tex  SE 642964
\documentclass{memoir}
\newcommand{\sometext}{This is just some text, not meaning anything, that
  hopefully will take up more than one line in the typeset output.}

\begin{document}
\sometext
Regular paragraph break. 

\sometext

\sometext
 Two line paragraph break
\plainbreak{2}
\sometext

\sometext
A fancy break
\fancybreak{{*}\\{* * *}\\{*}}
\sometext

\end{document}

enter image description here

I think that it is up to you as the typographer how you want to distinguish between bunches of paragraphs that deal with different aspects of the general topic. The main aim is to help, not confuse, the reader. As shown above you can have differing distinctions between the various paragraph topics depending on how dissimilar they are.

1

Logically, this is paragraphs with no vertical skip, and a headless (sub) section before the final paragraph, so I would do

enter image description here

\documentclass[]{scrartcl}
\usepackage{lipsum}
\newcommand\bigpar{\par\bigskip}

\begin{document}
    This is the beginning of a new thought that deserves a new
    paragraph. It will probably stretch out over quite a few lines. The
    thought is a bit complex, so while everything that is necessary to
    explain it should be kept in one paragraph, it would be nice to have
    some additional \textit{within-paragraph} structure.

    \lipsum[1][1-4]

    \lipsum[1][5-7]

    \bigpar
    This is the beginning of another thought that deserves a new paragraph.
    It will probably stretch over quite a few lines.
    \lipsum[2][1-4]
\end{document}

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