Why do so many books indent all paragraphs except the first one in each chapter? [duplicate]

I’ve just looked through every printed book I’ve bought over the past year and noticed a curious pattern that I’d never given much thought until now (due to currently preparing a manuscript for publication).

Why is it that some books (maybe all books?) don’t indent the first paragraph directly after a chapter or subsection title but then proceed to indent all others?

Is this the standard approach? Has it always been this way, and I’ve simply not noticed such a minor detail? And should I mimic this?


You are correct. This is the way these things are done: only the
paragraphs following the first are indented.

     I can little hope to better express why we do this than
Robert Bringhurst does when he explains in his widely acclaimed
“typographer’s bible”, The Elements of Typographic Style:

2.3 Blocks and Paragraphs

2.3.1 Set opening paragraphs flush left.

The function of a paragraph indent is to mark a pause, setting
the paragraph apart from what precedes it. If a paragraph is
preceded by a title or subhead, the indent is superfluous and
can therefore be omitted, as it is here.

2.3.2 In continuous text, mark all paragraphs after the first
with an indent of at least one en.

Typography like other arts, from cooking to choreography, in-
volves a balance between the familiar and the unfamiliar, the
dependably consistent and the unforeseen. Typographers gen-
erally take pleasure in the unpredictable length of the paragraph
while accepting the simple and reassuring consistency of the
paragraph indent. The prose paragraph and its verse counter-
part, the stanza, are basic units of linguistic thought and literary
style. The typographer must articulate them enough to make
them clear, yet not so strongly the form instead of the con-
tent steals the show. If the units of thought, or the boundaries
between thoughts, look more important than the thoughts
themselves, the typographer has failed.

Source : Link , Question Author : Foefirelord , Answer Author : tchrist

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