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Text Indent In Story Style

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

For those who prefer that style, the story style customization page now allows you to set a custom indent for the first line of text paragraphs.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Thank you.

Crumbly Writer

Thanks. That's always annoyed me. Rather than making it easier to spot a new paragraph, it instead fills the page with empty space forcing me to scroll to read the rest of the paragraphs.

Replies:   Keet
Keet
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

I hope this is only for new stories where the author can anticipate on where a 'real' paragraph indent is placed. With most current stores too many lines are tagged with p while not being a real new paragraph which cold produce some very weird looking texts if p is the marker for such an indent on older stories. It's a piece of history in formatting so no offense to authors and their already posted stories.

edit: wrong reply button again, this should be a topic reply.

AmigaClone

@Keet

It's an optional setting but when you use it will effect all stories no matter when they were posted.

You can set up several different styles to match your personal preferences. Personally I now have a couple of pairs of styles, with the difference between the two settings within a pair being one has an indent and the other one doesn't.

Replies:   Keet
Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Keet

It's a style option for readers. Authors have no control over the story display for readers other than what's available in the formatting guide.

Replies:   Keet
Keet

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

It's a style option for readers. Authors have no control over the story display for readers other than what's available in the formatting guide.

I read it as being an option for authors which had me worried about older stories. It's all clear now, thank you.

Keet

@AmigaClone

It's an optional setting but when you use it will effect all stories no matter when they were posted.

I misunderstood it as an option for authors when formatting their stories. (Which would be a nice option for some authors if I read Crumbly's comment correct.) You and Lazeez cleared up my misunderstanding, thank you.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Keet


I hope this is only for new stories where the author can anticipate on where a 'real' paragraph indent is placed. With most current stores too many lines are tagged with p while not being a real new paragraph which cold produce some very weird looking texts if p is the marker for such an indent on older stories. It's a piece of history in formatting so no offense to authors and their already posted stories.


This isn't a formatting option (i.e. where authors would have to 'code' for it), instead it's simply a display option for ALL stories on SOL, so every story would be indented, instead of skipping a line between each paragraph as it's always done.

It also has nothing whatsoever to do with html's indented blockquote text.

I misunderstood it as an option for authors when formatting their stories. (Which would be a nice option for some authors if I read Crumbly's comment correct.) You and Lazeez cleared up my misunderstanding, thank you.

No, I was referring to exactly what he's offered. What might be confusing you is that I've long harped on notindenting the first paragraph in each chapter section, when the other paragraph are indented. But that's a commonly accepted printing style, rather than an online display style.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Crumbly Writer

This isn't a formatting option (i.e. where authors would have to 'code' for it), instead it's simply a display option for ALL stories on SOL, so every story would be indented, instead of skipping a line between each paragraph as it's always done.


The new option doesn't affect the paragraph spacing. So the previous spacing-only formatting for paragraphs remain, but can additionally have an indented first line.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Keet

@Crumbly Writer

Either we misunderstand each other or we do understand but think the other doesn't ;)
To me a paragraph indent is that just the first line of a paragraph is indented, which I think is the standard in dead tree books. What I misunderstood was that it is a reader setting, not what I initially thought was an author setting.
If authors want to take advantage of this they have to format with 'real' paragraphs in mind and incidentally use the line-breaks (br) within paragraphs where now often just the p is used. Older stories often have each sentence formatted as a paragraph and that could give a strange look when rendered with the new indention setting.
If paragraphs are correctly implemented by the author I think it will look good and enhance readability.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

The new option doesn't affect the paragraph spacing. So the previous spacing-only formatting for paragraphs remain, but can additionally have an indented first line.

If the new setting is to 'indent' the first line, while leaving the blank spaces between each paragraph, then I really don't see the point. The central idea is that you either skip lines (from the old days with manual typewriters) or you indent (for publications), which also reduces the printing cost as it removes a substantial amount of paper empty space.

For me, the 'print standard' is more ideal, not because it emulates old print books, but because it boosts reading ease, putting more text on the screen without reducing the resolution.

Replies:   Keet  docholladay
Crumbly Writer

@Keet

Sorry, but I was guessing about why you assumed I was talking about formatting (since I have discussed the issue in the past with Switch and Ernest. But again, that was before your time here, so there was little reason to think it drove your comments.

However, it's not a good idea to regularly use line-breaks for prolonged text, as it's more prone to errors, and it (presumably, though I've never seen evidence of it) might overwhelm the browser buffers (?).

I've been using the line-breaks in my epigraphs (at the start of each chapter), so that the arbitrary line-breaks don't look like complete paragraphs, but read as a single paragraph. However, it's been a challenge getting the SOL admits to consistently treat it as such. That's why I say that the line-breaks aren't a reliable way to handle long blocks of text.

Keet

@Crumbly Writer

If the new setting is to 'indent' the first line, while leaving the blank spaces between each paragraph, then I really don't see the point. The central idea is that you either skip lines (from the old days with manual typewriters) or you indent (for publications), which also reduces the printing cost as it removes a substantial amount of paper empty space.

While I understand and agree with what you want that will not work here on SOL. If Lazeez dropped the blank spaces between paragraphs: just pick any story with multiple lines of a conversation with short lines. That would come out as an indented block with all lines together looking as a paragraph and the readability would disappear completely. That's what I pointed out in one of my previous posts: authors must format their stories to make what you want to show as intended but that unfortunately won't work for all the already available stories.

docholladay

@Crumbly Writer

If the new setting is to 'indent' the first line, while leaving the blank spaces between each paragraph, then I really don't see the point.


From what I have read here its an option for the readers. The writers can still format paragraphs according to their preferences. I know I will probably read a story as formatted by the writer. But I am just one reader out of who knows many.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

Regardless of how the author formats the story to look, the limitations within the SoL wizard will see the stories comply with the format rules set out for SoL. There are a few different format designs, but the basic principle is the one behind all e-format text that there is a line space between paragraphs to make it clear it's a new paragraph. All this reader adjustable change does is it allows the reader to tell the system to start every new paragraph with a set indent size and the size is adjustable by the reader. When used correctly it will make it more obvious to the reader that something is new paragraphs and not a bunch of related short lines such as poetry or a blockquote etc.

edit to add: This change only affects the way the story displays to the reader, and as such it will affect any story they display to read after they make a change to the setting, so the new and old stories will display in the same way with whatever setting the reader sets to be used.

Replies:   Keet  Crumbly Writer
Keet

@Ernest Bywater

Regardless of how the author formats the story to look, the limitations within the SoL wizard will see the stories comply with the format rules set out for SoL.

Doesn't the author have control over where he starts a new paragraph (p-tag) or uses a line-break (br)? IF the author has that control over the formatting then he could format his story to have indents without the line spacing and make the text still look good. I know it's a mood point for the stories on SOL but it may help authors to have a single formatted text for both ebooks and print. For ebooks I would always keep the line spacing between paragraphs since there is no need to preserve printing space.

Ernest Bywater

@Keet

Doesn't the author have control over where he starts a new paragraph (p-tag) or uses a line-break (br)?


That's essentially all he does along with centering text, and he can't force an indent except with the blockquote style which changes the font and other things as well. See

https://storiesonline.net/doc/Text_Formatting_Information_Guide

https://storiesonline.net/article/Text-formatting-guide-for-WLPC-Sites

The option Lazeez has offered is for the reader to apply an indented paragraph style to stories as they display for them.

As to pages without line spacing, the worst thing is to have the great wall of text that provides. If you used only BR commands instead of P commands you could do that, and many people who hate the great wall of text will be happy to give you an automatic 1 vote for ultra crappy display due to the failure to format paragraphs properly.

Personally, I find print books with a line between paragraphs a damn sight easier to read.

Replies:   Keet
Keet
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

You don't have to use only br tags. If the wizard doesn't delete them then you can use br tags inside a paragraph and have a sentence inside the paragraph start at a new line without the paragraph indention. A very common way to format.
I agree that books with a blank line between paragraphs are way easier to read.

Ernest Bywater

@Keet

You don't have to use only br tags.


I know that, but I thought you were suggesting to use the BR tag instead of the P tag to remove the line between paragraphs. I use the BR tag all the time to create my Table of Contents for the stories, and to show poetry etc with no spaces in between.

Although I now use HMTL for the stories I submit I used to use the tagged text system, and in both cases I push the limit of what the Sol Wizard allows you to use. I often suspect Lazeez may have expanded some of the Wizard capabilities just a little when I asked if something could be done but it wasn't in the instructions.

Due to talks with Crumbly I'm now using some more complex CSS style sheets. I also have some good inverse colour html pages of all the stories I work with. Since I switched to using the expanded style sheet I've been using the HTML code to create the e-pubs, and have replaced most of the e-pubs at Lulu with new ones created that way, because the new ones are between 15% to 30% of the size of the old ones. The difference seems to be the huge size of the style sheet Calibre created because I didn't have one covering every paragraph before, but do now. It seems if there wasn't a style in the CSS code Calibre added a new style for every damn paragraph in the file which meant a huge style sheet as each paragraph had its own style defined. Now it only uses the one I give it since every paragraph is in it.

Replies:   Keet  Crumbly Writer
Keet

@Ernest Bywater

The bad Calibre overhead I encountered when I was just playing around a little with epubs. Every damn paragraph with a calibre* class which of course creates a huge epub. There's a huge difference in epubs. I don't create epubs, I take them apart to get the html for my own library. Some of the epubs you encounter are just horribly put together, the professionally created ones too.
What you do creates the best epubs: just good html with a good css file.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Keet

What you do creates the best epubs: just good html with a good css file.


That's true now, since I had those conversations with you and Crumbly, but it wasn't so before that. I've been to lulu and replaced most of the e-pubs on the site with the newly created ones that are much smaller. However, i still have 12 to go because I want to revise the stories before creating the new e-pubs. I hope to get that done over the next few weeks.

Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

From what I have read here its an option for the readers. The writers can still format paragraphs according to their preferences.

Yes, authors can and do format stories the way they want. However, SOL strips out ALL paragraph formatting aside from a few 'allowed' exceptions, so authors really have very little control how individual paragraphs are formatted.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

There are a few different format designs, but the basic principle is the one behind all e-format text that there is a line space between paragraphs to make it clear it's a new paragraph. All this reader adjustable change does is it allows the reader to tell the system to start every new paragraph with a set indent size and the size is adjustable by the reader. When used correctly it will make it more obvious to the reader that something is new paragraphs and not a bunch of related short lines such as poetry or a blockquote etc.

After all this discussion, I finally checked out the new display option. There is an "indent" option for the first line of each paragraph, but there's also an "Display as Manuscript" option. Both should be turned on to get the stories to display like most printed books do (i.e. indented first lines for each paragraph and no empty spaces between paragraphs.

This option does exactly what I was hoping, as it makes the paragraphs easy to distinguish, while also increasing the amount of text on each page.

Thanks, Lazeez. I wasn't clear on what you'd implemented before, but this was exactly what I've been hoping for, for years!

Crumbly Writer

@Keet

Doesn't the author have control over where he starts a new paragraph (p-tag) or uses a line-break (br)? IF the author has that control over the formatting then he could format his story to have indents without the line spacing and make the text still look good. I know it's a mood point for the stories on SOL but it may help authors to have a single formatted text for both ebooks and print. For ebooks I would always keep the line spacing between paragraphs since there is no need to preserve printing space.

When you (self-)publish a book, they stipulate that you must pick one option (extra blank lines) or the other (indented first lines), which makes sense. All you want is for readers to be able to distinguish one paragraph from another.

But the 'extra blank line' option is a holdover from the days of manual typewriters and it does leave a significant amount of empty space on the screen. That space doesn't impact storage or pricing of ebooks, but it increases the amount of scrolling that a readers needs to do, and as I mentioned, you end up with 'orphaned' paragraphs (lines separated from the previous page's paragraph) which I find slight disconcerting, though it's really not a significant issue.

The html linebreak (br) merely forces a break in a paragraph, so it continues the existing paragraph. Suggesting that authors leave the same paragraph open for potentially hundreds of pages is asking for system problems, though I'm unclear how these might manifest themselves, or even whether modern browsers have already accounted for this.

At a minimum, a given browser is most likely to break a given paragraph at a completely arbitrary location. While that won't wreck a story or impede your reading, it's not 'as pretty' as well-formatted paragraphs.

(Another of Lazeez's pet peeves are justified paragraphs (paragraphs that line up neatly on both the left and right margins), which forms the basis of most speed-reading practices. With speed reading—which many regular readers do by default without needing specialized training—readers take the shape of letters and paragraphs into account and make 'logical assumptions' about which words to skip. It's easy to guess which words are "a", "an", "of" or "the" merely from the size and shape of the words, so over the course of a book, skipping over those words can improve your reading speed a significant amount.

Again, the justification isn't really a significant issue, but it's one which most browser and ereaders leave up to the readers to decided which style they prefer, which generally works best for everyone. However, Lazeez has warned that—for whatever reason (chiefly just that it's his 'preference'—he's consistently insisted that SOL will never have justified paragarphs.

Replies:   Keet
Crumbly Writer

@Keet

I agree that books with a blank line between paragraphs are way easier to read.

Again, that's often what distinguishes speed-readers (those who read 100+words per second) and those who read at a slower pace. However, in Ernest's defense, it also makes reading more difficult for those with aging eyes, as it's more difficult to notice the subtle differences between individual characters, words and phrases. That's one reason why you'll hardly ever get any three people (other than publishers) to agree on a particular formatting style.

Replies:   Keet
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

It seems if there wasn't a style in the CSS code Calibre added a new style for every damn paragraph in the file which meant a huge style sheet as each paragraph had its own style defined. Now it only uses the one I give it since every paragraph is in it.

That's the beauty of using Styles. Rather than worrying about coding each paragraph separately, and worrying whether they're coded correctly, you simply declare what each paragraph looks like, and the system will automatically implement a consistent format across your entire story. It basically takes the guess-work out of formatting books.

Due to talks with Crumbly I'm now using some more complex CSS style sheets.

I'm glad I could help. A 30% reduction if file size is fairly significant!

Replies:   Keet  Ernest Bywater
Keet

@Crumbly Writer

I don't think speed reading is an issue on SOL, after all we read for our enjoyment, not to learn as fast as possible. I do understand the issues with using too many br tags instead of paragraphs. Maybe I should buy an ebook reader but since I use a desktop or tablet I don't run into weird brakes. It's just a web page, no 'next page'. But now I understand WHY it is a problem, at least on ebook readers (or print) that do use 'next page'.
Personally I don't have a problem with any form of formatting since I download most stories and then put my own index, headers, footers, and css behind it. That way I can choose whatever I want.
You misunderstood me when you say that I suggest keeping a paragraph open for multiple pages. What I did suggest was that incidental use of br could avoid a forced use of p just to start a sentence on a new line. The use of br could also be useful when formatting a longer dialog with many short lines. By using br instead of p for each short line you avoid that each short line gets indented, something I find really weird looking in printed books. The current system displays such dialogs perfectly because of the white space between paragraphs.
Did I understand correctly from your response that the system eliminates every br tag? That would make my suggestion not usable anyway. If I had to create a system I would limit br tags to a max of 2 consecutive occurrences thus allowing an artificial blank line.

Keet

@Crumbly Writer

However, in Ernest's defense, it also makes reading more difficult for those with aging eyes, as it's more difficult to notice the subtle differences between individual characters, words and phrases.

That's the point for me, I am getting older and have to do with only one eye.

Keet

@Crumbly Writer

That's the beauty of using Styles. Rather than worrying about coding each paragraph separately, and worrying whether they're coded correctly, you simply declare what each paragraph looks like, and the system will automatically implement a consistent format across your entire story.

The real beauty is that you can format all paragraphs to look the same and still create a different look if one of your paragraphs needs it.
Another beauty is that you create a css file once and you use it again and again for every next book.
And yet one more beauty: I can use my library with html books on multiple devices with each using and optimized css file for that device. Beauty!

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

I'm glad I could help. A 30% reduction if file size is fairly significant!


UHMM, CW, it was a reduction to 30% or less. A typical file of 1.2 MB dropped to be below .4 MB, often down to .3 MB, and sometimes down to .2 MB.

Ernest Bywater

@Keet

Did I understand correctly from your response that the system eliminates every br tag?


Not, the system does accept the BR tag, it's one of the allowed exceptions. Read the info in the 2 links I gave before.

Ernest Bywater

@Keet

The real beauty is that you can format all paragraphs to look the same and still create a different look if one of your paragraphs needs it.


One thing I've found with the new CSS style sheets I use is it's damned easy to change the look of all of a particular paragraph style by adjusting the style sheet entry. To make the inverse color variants of the html I simply replace the style sheet with one with the other colors in it.

Replies:   Keet
Keet

@Ernest Bywater

To make the inverse color variants of the html I simply replace the style sheet with one with the other colors in it.

Exactly! I use that for different devices or for night/day reading.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@Crumbly Writer

"Display as Manuscript" option.


This option was implemented in 2005!

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Keet

Did I understand correctly from your response that the system eliminates every br tag?

Not quite. If the SOL processor encounters a br command on a new line (or at the end of a line), it ignores it. Thus you've got to use two in order to create a completely blank line.

Crumbly Writer

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

This option was implemented in 2005!

I guess I'm a little behind the times. 'D

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