To Indent or not Indent?

That is the question at the heart of this post.

When writing a novel or novella, do you indent, or not?

What are the reasons you have for that?

I’m curious here, as I have been copying style, and a good friend has suggested not indenting.  So, which is your preference, and is there any particular reason?


15 thoughts on “To Indent or not Indent?

  1. Paragraph structure is at the heart of making any story more easily readable, and therefore more easily understood. Eliminating indentations blurs the line between character dialogue and subject change, so it’s best to keep those indents in there. An indentation of 0.25″ (particularly when formatting for Kindle) is adequate to call attention to the paragraph, but also save storage space.

  2. Yes, I do, particularly when writing up for e-book format. Depending on the formatting, you might be required to do it, and it is true that it makes the story clearer.

  3. If there are no indents, there need to be gaps between the paragraphs. I’ve looked at the samples of a few books that interested me, they looked like block paragraphs smashed together; my eyes just couldn’t adjust to it, so I passed. The indent fits my eye better, making a smoother visual indicator that the paragraph is changing.

    I’m so used to reading fictional novels with indented paragraphs with no spaces between paragraphs, that’s what I expect to see. Mass market paragraphs, classics, literary works, trade paperbacks… if I bought it in print from a major publisher, that’s the way it was. (I’m sure there are exceptions in genres I don’t read, but I’ve read quite a variety for several years and haven’t seen it. I have seen it in certain kinds of nonfiction. Non-indenting with space between paragraphs is very common in blogs, letters, and other short works.)

    The thing is to research bestselling books similar to yours in your subgenre and see what readers are accustomed to.

    If you edit the HTML of an e-book, you can change the indent to a percentage, like 8%, so the indent looks good on a device of any size, from an iPhone to a PC.

  4. My preferred format, indented paragraphs and no spaces between paragraphs. A chapter’s first paragraph, not indented. Although I have learnt that Kindle doesn’t like that in a word doc so the smallest indention possible will have it appearing like there’s no indent in the eBook.

  5. I used to use spaces because it looked like I’d written more, but now, now I indent because it looks better. Of course I tend to use a lot of unquotation-marked dialogue on it’s own line which does increase page numbers, but that’s a stylistic choice that I like rather than a way to boost pn’s like I used to do.

  6. I prefer indents even when I’m reading a short story. From a formatting an ebook point of view, it’s best to set it up to automatically indent instead of manually indenting each paragraph, or the manual indents could end up causing glitches in the final result.

  7. I’m a fan of indents — and the reasoning for that is that I spent a good three or fours years reading Harry Potter fanfiction during my teenage years, and fanfiction does NOT indent. So when I see a book that isn’t indented, my mind automatically goes to fanfiction — unpolished, often-times rambling and unclear, imaginative but nowhere near being a real book. Indents all the way!

  8. Wow. Thank you to everybody who has commented so far.

    At the moment, this is extremely new to me, so funky things like editing the HTML are new to me, or have never worked when I have attempted them in the past. However, I think there may be options.

    1) Go with the majority, and indent the works.

    2) Have both types available. That way, both tastes are accounted for, and it’s more inclusive.

    Thank you to those that re-blogged. It certainly has stirred up the pot a bit, which I think is good 🙂

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