[tex-k] Not indenting a paragraph after an illustration

Doug McKenna doug at mathemaesthetics.com
Wed May 17 23:47:21 CEST 2023

I've been advised by the editor of a publication to which I've submitted a paper written in LaTeX that they have a formatting rule that says one shouldn't indent a paragraph when it starts just after an illustration.  This is somewhat problematic, since illustrations can move around, but once the paper is in final form, adding a \noindent is doable to conform to the rule.

The idea, I suppose, is that an illustration breaking up the text is equivalent to, say, a section heading, and so no indent is necessary to inform the reader of a new thought.  That's because in LaTeX, illustrations are by default placed between paragraphs (unless using one of the text wrapping packages).

But the blind application of this rule across a page boundary is worse.  I'm told that when an otherwise indented paragraph occurs on the next page, after an illustration at the bottom of the previous page, the new paragraph should still not be indented.

This seems bad to me, because the formatting rules for a publication should not alter the meaning of one's writing, and a new paragraph imparts meaning, essentially announcing a new group of related thoughts.  If it's not indented, the sentence beginning at top of the page looks like a continuation of the thoughts in the previous paragraph just prior to the illustration on the previous page, which the new paragraph at the top of the later page most certainly isn't.

I get that publications like to have consistent formatting among all papers, but I really don't like such rules changing my writing's meaning.

Is this is known formatting rule for papers or any other typesetting contexts?

I'd really like to convince the editor that this isn't a good rule, or that at least there should be an exception for the above two-page scenario.

What thinketh the cogniscenti here?

Doug McKenna

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