1. jpaulsnow
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    jpaulsnow New Member

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    Tab-o-rama!

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by jpaulsnow, Apr 2, 2010.

    Having only previously written in essay paragraph form, I am finding I am indenting to what I feel may be an excessive degree.

    What is the rule of thumb on when to cut off the paragraph and indent to move on to the next?

    I am aware that all quotations and whatever tags are either before or after them should be indented .5"

    Here is an example of what I feel should be less indented:

    Am I right about this? Should I remove indentation on some of the above and make it look more like this:

    I don't want to be a habitual indentation offender.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Forget indentation and think instead of parapgraphing. Yes, a first-line indent is a formatting convention for paragraphs, but that should not be your focus.

    Your paragraphs are well-formed in the second example.

    You should not be using an actual indent or tab to begin your paragraph. Instead, set your paragraph style as another poster instructed in your other thread.
     
  3. jpaulsnow
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    jpaulsnow New Member

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    Busted. I thought this was divergent enough to warrant a separate thread. Good advice either way.
     
  4. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    As Cog says, you shouldn't be worrying about it (unless you're submissing hand written or manually typewritten mss).

    This is part of one of the big breakthroughs in writing in the last 20 years -- the separation of content from presentation. When you are writing, you should (with a caveat I mention below) pay no attention at all to how it looks on the page; you should just be aware "this is a chapter title", "this is body text", "this is a new paragraph" and so on. Everybody you try to sell the piece to will have their own rules on how it should be presented (from "Just send us a .doc file, we'll format it", to "12 point courier double spaced, 1.5" left and right margins, extra line and no indent for paragraphs, underscore to indicate italic...". If you do the layout manually then you will have hours of work reformatting it for each different potential customer. Instead, use the stuff built into absolutely every modern word processor. Just hit "enter" for a new paragraph. Use a heading style for chapter headings, and so on. Then if you need to change the presentation for a different customer you just change the styles (you can probably create a set of styles for each customer you're working with and change the whole look of the document with a couple of clicks). You save yourself a lot of work and you make sure your document is consistent.

    The one caveat I mentioned about not caring about layout is that it can be helpful to have a view of how your piece will look on the page, in order to get a feel for whether paragraph lengths are appropriate. A paragraph that might look fine in a book might look like a forbidding block of text in a magazine with narrow columns. Again, styles are your friend. When you come to address that in the editing, you apply the styles for the customer you're about to send to, and it will look like the finished product.

    To repeat: do not get distracted by layout when you should be thinking about content. Use the tools you have to defer that task until later and possibly offload it completely.
     

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