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Anonymous block of <para>, control first line indented?


It's customary in typesetting to indent the start of a paragraph. This
tradition stems from an ancient markup scheme that used a sign similar to
'' to indicate a paragraph break.
  Early books did not have paragraphs as we know them nowadays; the text was
written continously, except for a break at a major division. Scribes used a
sign that later became the '' sign to mark paragraph breaks.
  First make a line break before the '' to emphasize the paragraph break,
and then remove the '' because you no longer really need it, voila, you
have the indented first line.

Except we don't want to indent the first line after a heading or after a
thematic break in the body text (and, according to some traditions, the
first line in a column should never be indented either).
  Now the first <para> (or similar body text block) in a <section> (or
similar structural division) is easy to catch, but how about the anonymous
thematical subdivision of the body text within a <section>? I've tried to
find something obviously suitable in DocBook without luck; so far I have
been able to come up with the following not-really-obvious hacks:

- use an empty <bridgehead /> between anonymous 
  subsections

- set some attribute on the first <para> (or similar 
  block element) in an anonymous subsections

- use sets of PIs to wrap anonymous subsections, 
  like <?xx tag block?> .. <?xx tag /block?>

- use a PI like <?xx newpara?> within a <para>

I consider only the first one (use empty <bridgehead />) to have some
lasting value, so I hope that I have overlooked better ideas. Any
suggestions?

Kind regards,
Peter Ring


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