"Gap after paragraph" has no effect

How does the paragraph style parameter “gap after paragraph” work? Typically in a word processor I can insert a paragraph break by pressing Return and then adjust the spacing between paragraphs with the equivalent of “gap after paragraph.” I’ve generally been able to use paragraph styles successfully in Dorico but this parameter seems to have no effect. I’ve found a workaround by manually inserting a line break (and a non-breaking space—a regular space doesn’t seem to work?) and adjusting its font size, but that’s pretty tedious when dealing with a lot of text.

1 Like

When you’re working with Shift+X (staff-attached) or Shift+Alt+X (system-attached) text items, all of the text you input is in a single paragraph, even if you add carriage returns. (You can verify this by selecting e.g. one line of text and trying to change its paragraph using the text editing popover: all of the text on all lines is updated to use the new chosen style.)

Only text in text frames can contain multiple paragraphs and will then use the Gap after paragraph to determine the starting position of the next paragraph.

Ah, yes. I am indeed using system-attached text. Thank you for the explanation. Of course, Dorico behaves precisely as you’ve described, which appears to contradict this sentence from the user manual, at Notation reference > Text items > Types of text:

You can customize the formatting of text in text items using the available text editor options, such as by applying different paragraph styles to each line of text and different character styles to each character.

(Emphasis mine.)

That page from the manual prompted me to improve my workaround for paragraph spacing. By creating a character style (I named it “Paragraph Spacing”) and applying it to the relevant empty spacing lines, I can now change all of the paragraph spacing in one fell swoop by editing the “relative size” parameter of the character style.

Interestingly, Robert Bringhurst, in his book “The Elements of Typographic Style”, makes many analogies to music, such as:

“For the same reason that tempo must not change arbitrarily in music, leading must not change arbitrarily in type.”

Paragraphs of text don’t conventionally have additional space between them, unless they are of different style, like a subheading. An indent is usually sufficient.

Book-length works use an indent. Smaller spans of text such as these posts (as we read increasingly often nowadays) usually do not, and then you need paragraph spacing. I find half a line between paragraphs much more pleasing to my eye than a full line. So much so that I have altered my browser’s default paragraph space with a stylesheet. This makes, for example, your post here display thus:

1 Like

Are you sure that’s what he’s referring to? Of course leading should not change, but “space after paragraph” is pretty standard stuff. It’s a prominent setting in InDesign. And I see it on high-level-typography publications.

I agree with Mark about the half line. If you’re designing on-line (that is, on a fixed grid of, say, 12pts), that’s different I guess.

Bringhurst is talking about aligning baselines across 2-page spreads of a book – a nicety that many of us web denizens may never have even thought of.

I’m certainly not talking about web pages.

But I was always taught that additional spacing (“Paragraph Leading”, in essence) was to be avoided.