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I am wondering whether one is ever justified in using \bigskip in LaTeX (specifically in overleaf)? I have recently drastically reduced my use of it, due to my teacher's recommendation. But I tend to resort to it, if my last paragraph did not end in mathmode. Is there someway else to get around using \bigskip, when one has not ended the previous paragraph in mathmode?

Since the bot asked for clarification; is there a way to get around using blank line + \bigskip when wanting a new paragraph, when one did not end the previous paragraph in mathmode.

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    Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 23:20
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    This question is unrelated to Overleaf, so I changed the tags. (Overleaf hosts a standard texlive tex so it's just the machine where you run tex, you would get the same output wherever you ran the same tex code) Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 23:30
  • Your edit to add a final comment is a bit strange as \bigskip doesn't generate a new paragraph, you have to end the paragraph (typically with a blank line in the source) before adding the skip between paragraphs. Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 23:33
  • I have edited my edit.
    – Ben123
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 23:38
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    \bigskip closes current paragraph outside LaTeX. This is much more natural behavior.
    – wipet
    Commented Sep 23, 2023 at 6:11

3 Answers 3

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You're describing the effect you get with

\usepackage{parskip}

What's most certain is that you don't want \bigskip after every paragraph not ending in a display. Remove all of them and load that package.

After staring again at your document and comparing it to books you take off the shelf papers, it will be very easy to comment out \usepackage{parskip} and get a good-looking document.

If your aim is not to space every paragraph, but just some of them, do resist the temptation as per your teacher's recommendations. It's really a rare case that spacing a particular paragraph from the preceding one conveys meaning to the reader.

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Never say never, but in general explict spacing in a document should be avoided. \bigskip is perhaps better than \vspace{2cm} but not much. Especially as you hint on using it every paragraph. Paragraph spacing should be set up as a document default to ensure consistency, not applied to every paragraph individually.

\bigskip can be used sometimes as an "anonymous section" providing a break that does not, for whatever reason, need a section heading, but spacing every paragraph should not be done via markup on each paragraph but by setting \parskip (eg by use of the parskip package).

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  • Thanks, \parskip seems like a good solution. How do you write in code-style? (I am new here)
    – Ben123
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 23:36
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    inline uses single backtick `foo` foo code blocks use three ``` (but you can not use that in comments) Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 23:37
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    @Ben123 there is a "help" link in the bottom right of every coment text box with a syntax overview:-) Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 23:40
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    @Ben123 Or you can highlight blocks (not in comments) and ctrl+k.
    – cfr
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 23:42
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    Does this apply to using it in macro definitions? I always figured that would be OK. Also, \bigskip is invaluable if you're producing a form which needs to look as if it was produced in Word for printing on carbon triplicate dot-matrix.
    – cfr
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 23:46
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I am wondering whether one is ever justified in using \bigskip in LaTeX [emphasis added]

I find it helpful and legitimate to employ \bigskip and its sibling directives, \medskip and \smallskip, as fine-tuning instruments when creating figures with vertically stacked subfigures.

  • By default, no vertical whitespace is inserted between stacked subfigure (or subtable) environments. This can lead to an outcome where the upper subfigure's caption (its "subcaption"?), if placed below the graph, is visually closer to the graph below it than to its "real" graph (the one above it). The same problem occurs for stacked subtable environemnts and their associated subcaptions.

  • The way to deal with this situation is to add some discretionary vertical whitespace between the subfigure environments. Depending on the sizes of graphs/tables and the lengths and placement of the associated captions, either \bigskip or \medskip is the right tool for this fine-tuning operation.

The following code and associated screenshot illustrate the usefulness of the \bigskip directive for fine-tuning purposes: Without it, the visual gap between the first graph and its caption would be larger than that between the first subcaption and the second graph.

enter image description here

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[demo]{graphicx} % for '\includegraphics' macro
\usepackage{subcaption}     % for 'subfigure' environment

\begin{document}

\begin{figure}

\begin{subfigure}{\textwidth}
\includegraphics[width=\textwidth]{fig1}
\caption{A first subfigure}
\end{subfigure}

\bigskip % <-- or "\medskip"
\begin{subfigure}{\textwidth}
\includegraphics[width=\textwidth]{fig1}
\caption{A second subfigure}
\end{subfigure}

\caption{A figure with two subfigures}

\end{figure}

\end{document}

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