indenting paragraphs

Jason Norris jasonnorris at YAHOO.COM
Thu Jan 27 04:33:54 UTC 2005

I'd like to know the current status of "indenting paragraphs," too.

Perhaps the dropping of indentions comes from web writing?

Those learning to write for the web (especially in web journalism classes) are taught to write shorter paragraphs and put spaces between them because it is easier to read online that way. If I'm not mistaken, indenting paragraphs on a web site used to be more difficult than it is now because of technology.

Have the "official" style guides changed their rules on this? If they have, I'd love to know, too.

I'd also like to know if anyone is aware of the history of paragraph indention.
When did it begin?
When did it become the standard way of writing?

Jason Norris

Dale Coye <Dalecoye at AOL.COM> wrote:
---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Dale Coye
Subject: indenting paragraphs

Not a dialect question, but maybe of interest: what's going on with
indentation of the first line of paragraphs? I've been noticing that more of my
students are not indenting. Did someone change the rules since Miss Farley
taught me in fourth grade? I've got a series of books here from the Open
University --none indent paragraphs--they put spaces between them instead. I've got
a St. Martin's Handbook on academic and professional writing--2003 and it not
only does it not even mention indenting paragraphs, its own style is to not
indent the first paragraph in each section, and then to indent all subsequent
AND--now that I look at American Speech, it's doing the same thing:
indents all but the first paragraph in each section.
Some of my students coming from community college are telling me they
were taught not to indent. How long has this been going on?

Dale Coye
Wilton, NH

If we knew what we were doing,
it wouldn't be called research,
would it?

 -- Albert Einstein

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