Indents

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adryan
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Indents

Post by adryan »

G'day, all

The situation with paragraph indents has long bugged me. I know it's not usually a great idea to begin a paragraph with a tab character, but even so, hanging indents should produce an expected result regardless, which they don't.

Start with the first line indent and the left indent aligned vertically. Insert a tab character at the beginning of the paragraph. On the ruler, set a left tab a decent distance from the first line indent, to make what follows more obvious.

Now move the left tab on the ruler slowly to the right. Instead of a hanging indent being created, the tab is ignored and the entire paragraph suddenly becomes left-aligned at the position of the left indent. It is as though a second (invisible) left tab has been set on the ruler. It is not until the left indent is positioned to the right of the original tab that the tab is observed once more and a hanging indent is created.

If you begin the paragraph with two consecutive tab characters but only set one left tab in the ruler, expected behavior is observed until the left indent moves to the right of the tab, at which point the tab is ignored and the entire paragraph suddenly becomes left-aligned at the position of the left indent.

To me, this is not the expected behavior. The tab and left indent settings should be independent. A hanging indent (relative to the page margin) should result, regardless of whether a paragraph begins with a tab character.

Cheers,
Adrian
MacBook Pro (mid-2014)
macOS Mojave 10.14.6
Nisus Writer user since 1996

Amontillado
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Re: Indents

Post by Amontillado »

Are you seeing word wrap?

The only way I've been able to make a paragraph jump to the left indent is to move the tab to the right far enough to wrap the first word to the second line.

At that point, all the visible text in the paragraph is left aligned with a new leading blank line.

The reader won't see styles, they will see the arrangement of ink on the page. For consistency, use styles to craft appearance even if you could do the same thing without them.

Then, instead of starting each paragraph with a tab, just start each paragraph. Let the style take care of what you would have used the tab for.

Then, you can adjust tabs without harming your paragraph formatting, and you can adjust your paragraph formatting without moving things in tab-aligned columns.

Or, I may have completely misunderstood. My wife says that happens. Frequently.

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martin
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Re: Indents

Post by martin »

It sounds to me like you expect your tab stop on the ruler to be used as a line-wrapping location, for the second and subsequent lines of text in your paragraph. That's not how it should work. That location is controlled by the hanging indent marker on the ruler.

But like Amontillado, maybe I just misunderstood your post. It would be helpful if you attached a simple document that shows the formatting you think is undesirable.

No matter what your situation this might be the key point:
adryan wrote:
2020-12-29 03:48:46
I know it's not usually a great idea to begin a paragraph with a tab character
There's very little good reason to ever do that. You should use the left/head indent ruler marker to control that position, not tabs.

adryan
Posts: 417
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Location: Australia

Re: Indents

Post by adryan »

G'day, Amontillado, Martin et al

Thanks for looking at this.

As I said, I'm fully aware that beginning a paragraph with a tab character is not exactly ideal, but I confess I sometimes resort to this quick-and-dirty ploy, only to be confronted with what I consider aberrant behavior. I demonstrate it in the attached file.

Regardless of what one considers "correct" formatting technique, I think the internal logic of hanging indents is amiss here.

Cheers,
Adrian
Attachments
Indents and Tabs.rtf
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martin
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Re: Indents

Post by martin »

Thanks for the sample document Adrian. It shows the situation clearly and I now understand your complaint. You don't like that a paragraph's left/head indent is used as a tabbing location. In other words: a tab character in the text advances horizontal text placement to the left/head indent location, even if there's a tab stop further inset on the ruler. However, that's expected and everything in your file is behaving correctly.

If you open your file in Microsoft Word for a second opinion you can see the same behavior. The only minor difference in text placement is paragraph #4 which has a different horizontal advancement for the second tab character. That's due to a difference in the automatic (implicit) tabbing distance; it has no bearing on your main point. The left/head indent should be used as a tabbing location.

Amontillado
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Re: Indents

Post by Amontillado »

The last paragraph is interesting. I see what you mean about the left indent acting as a tab stop. You've got one tab stop defined and two leading tab characters. The second tab lands the cursor at the left indent.

To give you an idea of how style-fixated I am, I can't remember setting tab stops or indentation outside of a paragraph style. I'm glad that's possible, but it's not my first choice of where to control those attributes.

Back before the red death stalked the masque, I used to visit two different writing clubs. Critique nights were my favorite.

Both groups were firm about line spacing, indentation, and headers and footers. I had style libraries for each group plus my own pet style group.

I wrote in draft view with my styles, then loaded the appropriate style library for the group I was visiting before printing reviewer copies of my work.

Letting the paragraph style take care of first line indent seems like the way to go, along with the spacing between paragraphs. You can change your appearance to suit a new audience in seconds.

adryan
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Re: Indents

Post by adryan »

G'day, Martin et al

> "The left/head indent should be used as a tabbing location."

I guess this is where we disagree, but I'm not about to ditch NWP on this account! I don't have Microsoft Word, for second opinions or otherwise.

With respect to Styles, I frequently use them, but I don't feel obliged to create one for every single purpose. And it was more the design logic that I was concerned with here.

Cheers,
Adrian
MacBook Pro (mid-2014)
macOS Mojave 10.14.6
Nisus Writer user since 1996

Amontillado
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Re: Indents

Post by Amontillado »

Adryan, I understand your point about styles. They are tools to navigate the path, not the product, they aren't the only tools we can use, and typography only matters so much.

The play's the thing.

adryan
Posts: 417
Joined: 2014-02-08 12:57:03
Location: Australia

Re: Indents

Post by adryan »

G'day, Amontillado et al

> "The play's the thing."

Very potent with such spirits.

(From a couple of lines back, for those up there in the back row.)

Cheers,
Adrian
MacBook Pro (mid-2014)
macOS Mojave 10.14.6
Nisus Writer user since 1996

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