Zero paragraph indent

The conventional way of typesetting running text has no separation between paragraphs, and the first line of each paragraph in a block of text indented.

In contrast, one common convention for typewritten text was to have no indentation of paragraphs; such a style is often required for “brutalist” publications such as technical manuals, and in styles that hanker after typewritten manuscripts, such as officially-specified dissertation formats.

Anyone can see, after no more than a moment’s thought, that if the paragraph indent is zero, the paragraphs must be separated by blank space: otherwise it is sometimes going to be impossible to see the breaks between paragraphs.

The simple-minded approach to zero paragraph indentation is thus:

\setlength{\parindent}{0pt}
\setlength{\parskip}{\baselineskip}

and in the very simplest text, it’s a fine solution.

However, the non-zero \parskip interferes with lists and the like, and the result looks pretty awful. The parskip package patches things up to look reasonable; it’s not perfect, but it deals with most problems.

The Netherlands Users’ Group’s set of classes includes an article equivalent (artikel3) and a report equivalent (rapport3) whose design incorporates zero paragraph indent and non-zero paragraph skip.

NTG classes
macros/latex/contrib/ntgclass (or browse the directory); catalogue entry
parskip.sty
macros/latex/contrib/parskip (or browse the directory); catalogue entry

This answer last edited: 2011-04-01

This question on the Web: http://www.tex.ac.uk/cgi-bin/texfaq2html?label=parskip