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My writing abilites have always been hindered greatly because I don't have a very good understanding of English Grammar nor punctuation. One aspect that I never could understand was when (or where) to indent for a new paragraph in writing. As I always understood it, you indent when there is a change in the thought (or the direction of the thought?). However, it seems too subjective a thing. Sometimes it seems too subjective a determination that something else is being talked about. Are there some simple indicators in the writing that I miss when I write that would let me know to indent? Is indentation subjective? Is indentation flexible or rigid? Sorry if I'm not as clear as I could be.

Thanks for any help given.
New Member01
Using an indent to indicate a new paragraph seems to be optional now, in fact in Britain it is seen as a little old-fashioned and it is common not to indent. We now prefer just to leave a line space between paragraphs.

I think that your question really relates to deciding where one paragraph starts and finishes. I'm afraid there are no easy rules for this. My advice:

Do not make paragraphs too long, they can vary between one single sentence and about 6-7 sentences before they become rather unwieldy.

Each separate subject or thought should have its own paragraph.

Remember that the purpose of paragraphs is to break up the text into manageable chunks for the reader, to add visual interest to the page, and to allow people to skim for the information they want. It will indicate to your reader which pieces of information go together and help them understand your thinking.
Veteran Member11,782
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.Retired Moderator: A moderator who has retired.
Anonymous:
Very good guidance (particularly that last paragraph). Thanks!
Anonymous:
heyy,

Are you supposed to indent when someone is saying something for exmaple,

"I think i lost my umbrella?",cried Jen.

Would I do a indent or not?

thanks for taking time to read this!!

-katrina Emotion: big smile
Anonymous:
you should make a new paragraph when someone speaks and stops speaking yes, but indenting is optional
Anonymous:
Yes you do indent for quoting. during a dialogue you make a new paragraph as you switch between speakers.

example:
John figited for a while in the hotel lobby. His wet jacket made dripping sounds on the marble flooring as he stared out of the glass wall to look at the pouring rain. He jumped a bit as the small ding from the elevator informed him that Jen was finally here.
"I think i lost my umbrella!" cried Jen.
"And you didn't bring a rain jacket at least?" John asked with a blink.
"Well... I... I'll go get it," Jen said with a nervous laugh.
John watched her sprint back into the elevator and pound the button to her floor. The doors closed slowly.
Anonymous:
Great advice.

Thought I might throw this in to the mix though - a little trick from school that I still use now and again...

It's a TiP ToP way to remember when to start a new paragraph!

Start a new paragraph when it's a new...

Ti = Time
P = Place
To = Topic
P = Person
This has been bugging me for the longest time and It's hard to make progress not knowing this probably obvious fact but, are you supposed to start a new paragraph when a character is thinking?

EX:

[How I would write it:]

My friend asked me if I wanted to go with him to the store. 'Maybe I should go with him, considering that I'm low on bread and milk.' I thought.

Is this correct? And one more thing, just to be sure, a character's thoughts ARE indicated by single quotations right? Please respond ASAP, the sooner the better. Thank You
New Member02
Anonymous:
Hi, it's up to you! There's no set formula.

I would do it like this:

My friend asked me if I wanted to go with him to the store. Maybe I should go with him, considering that I'm low on bread and milk, I thought.

Or you could do it like this:

My friend asked me if I wanted to go with him to the store. I wondered if I should go with him. I was low on bread and milk.

Single/double quotations are used together when one character quotes another, e.g.

"He said, 'Come here, gorgeous,' and then he kissed me!" explained Susie.

I prefer not to use any quotation marks for internal thoughts, as it gives the impression the character is verbalizing their ideas. But maybe you want them to!

Incidentally, I am some kind of dinosaur who indents paragraphs when writing by hand. I suppose I've just stuck to what I was taught. But I love indenting! They still do it in books, don't they? I do it if I write stories on the computer too, as it shows up more clearly in dialogue.

I taught at secondary school until a few years ago and had had to give up telling them to indent because nobody ever believed me! I think it makes sense on a computer because you just press enter twice instead of enter and tab.

Keep writing!
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