Space before a praragraph vs. space after a paragraph

James.S.Welsh's picture

Some would say space before and after a paragraph is a "you say tomato, I say tomato" kind of thing.

I run into situations where we have added space before and space after that accumulates and gets very confusing especially when one is designing a template of a complex document.

Bullets and numbered bullets are the worst.

Generally speaking is there a "proper use" for before spacing and for after spacing? I imagine if only one was needed, only one would have been provided.


J. Tillman's picture

What software and operating system are we talking about?

riccard0's picture

I mostly try to use only space after, exactly because it keeps things more manageable. But it also depends on its relation with spaces before and/or after headings, sub-headings, bullet-list items, and so on...

timjomartin's picture

One important use of paired space before and after is to maintain perfecting text in running texts which include headings and sub-headings as it allows even fractional line spacings to be matched so that the first line of the subsequent paragraph falls perfectly on the standard text grid.

You might for instance drop 5 lines of standard text for an A heading - use two of the line spaces for the enlarged heading itself with two and half lines of space above and half a line below to ensure that the main text restarts on the grid and the pages of running text continue to perfect.

Maintaining perfecting of running text with a variety of inserted materials and absolute control of proportions of space around elements would seem to me to be the primary practical justification for this feature.

George Thomas's picture

I typically use space before because that is how I was trained in the days of minicomputer typesetting so that's how my mind continues to work. However one does it, today it is very important to maintain consistency of use because different apps may treat before and after differently. That could really mess up a job if for some reason the job was moved between apps and there was a mixture of the two ways in the job.

James.S.Welsh's picture

Any typesetting / print etc., really. Indesign, Word, Quark, whatever (except Framemaker I understand) they all have the same model.

There probably isn't a "best practice".

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