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Indentation
Thread poster: jojikiba
jojikiba
Local time: 18:55
Japanese to English
Dec 26, 2007

In general English writing, say a financial report or a press release, is there an established way to indent the text?

For example:

Sample sample sample sample sample sample sample sample sample sample sample
sample sample sample sample sample.
Sample sample sample sample sample, sample sample sample sample sample
sample sample sample sample sample.

Should the above text start flush with the margin, or should it be as follows?

Sample sample sample sample sample sample sample sample sample sample sample
sample sample sample sample sample.
Sample sample sample sample sample, sample sample sample sample sample
sample sample sample sample sample.

If indented, how many spaces? Or should it be as follows, with a blank line inserted?

Sample sample sample sample sample sample sample sample sample sample sample
sample sample sample sample sample.

Sample sample sample sample sample, sample sample sample sample sample
sample sample sample sample sample.

Oddly, I can't find the answers in any style guides.


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Daniel Šebesta  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 11:55
Member (2007)
English to Czech
+ ...
Either indent, or insert a blank line Dec 26, 2007

I can't cite a style guide for English right now, but I would say this: You either indent (not by spacing but using the TAB key), or you insert a blank line. I wouldn't recommend using both at the same time; it would be a doubled indication of the same thing.

HTH,

Daniel


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 05:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
There's no 'correct' way. Dec 26, 2007

jojikiba wrote:
In general English writing, say a financial report or a press release, is there an established way to indent the text?


The simple answer is 'no' - there isn't 'an' (= one) established way to indent text. There are several ways it can be done and each publisher is free to set his own rules.

When I was running the technical publications department of a well-known European organization we adopted the following rules (for both English and French):

- One clear line space between paragraphs; no clear lines immediately before, or within, bullet lists, etc.
- One tab at the beginning of every paragraph except the first paragraph after a title, chapter or section heading, except in tables.

If you have a free hand in deciding how you want to deal with indentation, then the best approach is 'suck it and see'; or use (and maybe adapt) one of the standard Word templates that strikes your fancy.

If your client has an in-house style, then (s)he should provide you with the necessary instructions - or better still, send you a copy of their template.

Whatever your choice, the main thing is to be ruthlessly consistent. Layout is supposed to assist the reader by leading him effortlessly through the structure of the text and leaving him free to concentrate on understanding/assimilating the message. Irregular layout within a document causes confusion and irregular layout from one document to another destroys the house style that is (supposed to be) part of the corporate image of the company.

MediaMatrix


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