Space before and after paragraphs

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macula
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Space before and after paragraphs

Post by macula » Sun Oct 18, 2009 1:23 pm

Hello,

I have a couple of questions, to which I suspect the answer is negative (is it?), so I will present them as feature requests.

1. In defining a paragraph style, I would like to determine its space before/after the next/previous paragraph in terms of number of lines (1, 1.5, 2. etc.), in addition to ppi and inches. I recently designed a style set for my dissertation according the the university's specifications, which required "a blank double space between paragraphs". Without the feature I propose here, I had to use a screen ruler (since Mellel offers no vertical ruler) to actually measure the line distance in ppi or inches and multiply it by two. Even that method didn't really work because the arithmetic involved isn't so straightforward, apparently.

2. Again regarding the same space ("before" and "after"), I would like to be able to define it as a fixed quantity, which would not depend on the line spacing of the previous or next paragraphs. All it takes is offer an option to ignore a paragraph's line spacing for its first and last lines. I believe this would a be more intuitive, useful and consistent setting: Visually, line spacing as a paragraph attribute is meaningful only within the paragraph, i.e. only between consecutive lines of the paragraph itself, and not between lines belonging in different paragraphs. The way things are right now, the "line spacing" attribute of a paragraph in a sense violates its "before" and "after" attributes.

Any opinions from fellow users or the Redlers on this? Any currently existing answers to my wishes?

Thank you.

ozean
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Re: Space before and after paragraphs

Post by ozean » Sun Oct 18, 2009 3:52 pm

since you asked for feedback from others, here is mine ;)

Re: 1. I do not really see the problem. But maybe this is because I use pt (point, where 72 pt = 1 inch) as the default measurement unit. Since font sizes are also given in pt, I can just multiply them to achieve the effect you want (for example for a 12pt font size with a 1.0 line spacing, I use 18pt space after, which would equal 1.5 lines etc.)

Re: 2. I think (but I am not 100% sure) that I would not expect behavior that you suggest as the default behavior. I think it would confuse or even irritate me… :) Following your suggestion would make it necessary to always put extra space behind every paragraph that has a line spacing that is does not equal 1. This would be a bit of a hassle. Again, I find it easy to adept my paragraph settings when using pt sizes. Since you will have to define the before and after for every paragraph style anyway, I do not see the benefit of decoupling it from the line spacing. If I need my prior or next paragraph to be closer or nearer, I can set this in the paragraph style.
With the way it is now, I can use the standard settings for all normal body-text paragraph styles, no juggling of before/after spacing needed, because the line spacing is respected. On the other hand, headlines, blockquotes and the like need individual before/after spacing anyway, so I am happy to define it explicitly for these kinds of paragraph styles.

So, in conclusion: I am fine with the way 2. is currently implemented in Mellel. I would not have anything against offering “lines” as a unit for 1., but I also don’t have much of a problem with the current implementation… :)

macula
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Re: Space before and after paragraphs

Post by macula » Sun Oct 18, 2009 5:34 pm

Thanks for the response.

I am not sure things are so simple. I wish, of course… :)

To take an example:

1. Create a "heading" style with underlined Times New Roman, 11pt size, and single line spacing.
2. Create a "body text" style with Times New Roman, 11pt size, and double line spacing.
3. Write one line in the "heading" style, press enter, and then write a paragraph in the "body text" style.

According to your reasoning, which is perfectly logical, one would expect the space between two lines of the "body text" paragraph to be equal to the space between the "heading" and the first line of the "body text," and indeed equal to 22pt.

Guess what? It is not — as it turns out, the distance between heading and body text is actually smaller than that between the lines of the paragraph! I tried everything, and even ensured that my character style has no baseline shift….

Isn't this wholly counterintuitive? What if one is required to have a perfectly equality there, rather than an approximate one?

DylanMuir
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Re: Space before and after paragraphs

Post by DylanMuir » Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:56 am

I seem to recall that at some point Mellel updated how it handles paragraph spacing. The "default" (from the big W, of course) is that inter-paragraph spacing defines the requested offset between paragraphs, rather than defining some absolute amount of whitespace to add before and after every paragraph. The result is that paragraph separations adopt the largest of the before and after spacings of the two paragraphs in question, rather than the sum of the two spacings.

In your case, it sounds like you don't want to have to set the before and after space. I'm not certain of what spacing Mellel assumes in this case, but it sounds like it's doing something similar.

DRM

ozean
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Re: Space before and after paragraphs

Post by ozean » Mon Oct 19, 2009 9:24 am

macula wrote:1. Create a "heading" style with underlined Times New Roman, 11pt size, and single line spacing.
2. Create a "body text" style with Times New Roman, 11pt size, and double line spacing.
3. Write one line in the "heading" style, press enter, and then write a paragraph in the "body text" style.

According to your reasoning, which is perfectly logical, one would expect the space between two lines of the "body text" paragraph to be equal to the space between the "heading" and the first line of the "body text," and indeed equal to 22pt.
Hehe, no, I would expect it to be 11pt! I expect the distance from the last line of a paragraph (§A) to the next paragraph (§B) to be identical to the distance between lines inside of §A, because:
if no before / after distances have been set, the distance between two lines is always defined by the line height of the upper line (as you remarked, baseline shift can mess this up).

You give a good example, since I also often have smaller (relative) line spacing in headings than in body text (say 1 vs. 1.5). Therefore I always (have to) enter explicit before / after distance in headings. Taking your metrics, I would „naturally“ ;) enter an 11pt after distance for the heading.

If line spacing would propagate to the last line of a different paragraph above, and if we switch things, that is if we have a line spacing of 2 in §A and of 1 in the §B then the distance between A and B would be a single line. §B would encroach on §A! Scandalous! This would probably have the same astonishment-causing effect on me that the current setting has on you ;)

ozean
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Re: Space before and after paragraphs

Post by ozean » Mon Oct 19, 2009 9:29 am

DylanMuir wrote:I seem to recall that at some point Mellel updated how it handles paragraph spacing. The "default" (from the big W, of course) is that inter-paragraph spacing defines the requested offset between paragraphs, rather than defining some absolute amount of whitespace to add before and after every paragraph. The result is that paragraph separations adopt the largest of the before and after spacings of the two paragraphs in question, rather than the sum of the two spacings.
Yes, in its early versions Mellel emulated Word’s behavior. I was very happy when this changed. :) Now it this is rendered in the same way that CSS does it for the web.

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