To indent or not to indent?!

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by sugarandspice, Nov 1, 2006.

  1. sugarandspice

    sugarandspice Active Member

    I have always felt i have the ability to write well when it comes to important things like essays and formal letters etc, (some of you will probably disagree after reading some of my posts!)

    But one thing i have never properly understood is indenting the start or paragraphs. Is there a rule or correct way of doing it? I always leave a line space between each paragraph, so does that mean i do still leave an indent or i don't need to. Do you only indent if you don't leave a space between paragraphs?!

    I'm getting more confused as i think about it! Please can some clever person help me!
  2. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

  3. sugarandspice

    sugarandspice Active Member

    "Using an indent to indicate a new paragraph seems to be optional now, "

    Still seems a bit flaky! Hmm! I know exactly how to structure my paragraphs, just reading back over my work i realise that sometimes i indent and sometimes i dont! i think im going to go with not indenting anymore tho!
  4. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Kelly, by "writing" are you talking by hand or by word processor?

    If I'm writing stuff by hand, I generally indent the first line of each paragraph.This was the way I was taught to write formally by my very formidable English teacher, so that's why I still do it!

    If I'm writing formally using a word processor - say a report or proposal for work - I'll justify the text so it appears as a neat block with both left and right hand edges straight, leave a line gap between paragraphs, and not indent. This makes the document look neater, and (I think) is easier to read. But its just my personal preferance and I haven't had any formal training to say that that is the right (or wrong) way to present formal papers.

    As the link John provided states, I don't think there is any real protocol these days.
  5. sugarandspice

    sugarandspice Active Member

    Yep, pretty much all my work is word processed these days!

    Next question- I'm writing a "reflection" so it doesnt really class as a hard core essay- can i put an explanation mark in?!
  6. Ipswich trom

    Ipswich trom Member

    You can put all the punctuation in that you like, that's what it's for! ;)
  7. annieds

    annieds Member

    I have been taught to NOT indent the first paragraph but to indent the others. Having said that, different publishing houses have their own style and so, as long as you are consistent, you can too.

  8. tinytimp

    tinytimp Member

    Yes you should definitely be consistent whatever method you choose - as there are so many different ways you can do things.

    I was originally taught to indent the first line of each paragraph when writing by hand, but to leave a line space with no indent when word processing. However when I was writing my dissertation at uni last year we were then told not to leave line spaces, but instead indent the first line of each paragraph by 5 spaces (bar the very first line)! I wish I'd read that bit before line spacing it all then having to go back and get RSI from the space bar!
  9. Di

    Di Active Member

    When I was taught to type *gets zimmer frame * many many years ago, there were two basic rules of typing.

    Firstly the old fashioned method of indenting paragraphs and full punctuation, eg, in a letter

    This style is still used in a lot areas, but the more modern method of "block format" is widely used.

    I hope this helps explain this for you, but as someone rightly said above, whichever style you adopt, be consistent and stick to it.

    Good luck:)
  10. tam-tam2

    tam-tam2 Member

    I stand by what I told you earlier but if you want to make doubly sure ask your lecturer which way they prefer it set may be suprised at the variation in response. I know if I was marking something (which I do quite a bit!!) I would want it set out the way I liked it.......although in the end it is really the content that matters I suppose.:biggrin:

    Just be consistent....:tup
  11. Big Twigge

    Big Twigge Active Member

    For a formal essay I'd leave a blank line between paragraphs and I wouldn't indent. Definitely don't be afraid to use an exclamation mark once in a while, if used appropriately it can be very effective in conveying your point (in my opinion) as can making a word bold for extra emphasis.

    Don't be afraid to take a few risks, be consistent and you'll be fine I'm sure.

    Saying that, I don't know your lecturers - good luck!

Share This Page