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Old 05-02-2013, 07:50 AM   #1
virtualritz
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Paragraph Indentation Formatting Question

I am new to Calibre. So please excuse me if the question I am asking here is a stupid one.

I noticed that when I convert an e-book, I don't seem to have control over paragraph indentation formatting. I have a background in typography, so I'm kind of worried that when I convert an ePub to ePub (to improve formatting, i.e. quotes, dashes, etc.), I destroy some nice paragraph formatting at the same time.

Basically there are two major forms of formatting paragraphs used in book typesetting with left-to-right texts, around the world. But only one of both is used at a time.

Calibre seems to mix theses two and, at the same time, always indents the 1st paragraph of a chapter/section (which is a big no-no).

So the two styles of paragraph formatting used in books are these:

1. Normal paragraph formatting. No indentation at all, one empty line between paragraphs:

First Paragraph Lorem ipsum dolor sit. Lorem ipsum
dolor sit. Lorem ipsum dolor sit.

Second Paragraph. Lorem ipsum dolor sit. Lorem ipsum
dolor sit. Lorem ipsum dolor sit.

Third Paragraph. Lorem ipsum dolor sit. Lorem ipsum
dolor sit. Lorem ipsum dolor sit.

2. Compact paragraph formatting. Indentation of any but the 1st paragraph, no space between paragraphs (that's why you need the indentation):

First Paragraph Lorem ipsum dolor sit. Lorem ipsum
dolor sit. Lorem ipsum dolor sit.
Second Paragraph. Lorem ipsum dolor sit. Lorem
ipsum dolor sit. Lorem ipsum dolor sit.
Third Paragraph. Lorem ipsum dolor sit. Lorem
ipsum dolor sit. Lorem ipsum dolor sit.


However, what Calibre seems to do (and I seem to have no way to change that) is this:
First Paragraph Lorem ipsum dolor sit. Lorem
ipsum dolor sit. Lorem ipsum dolor sit.

Second Paragraph. Lorem ipsum dolor sit. Lorem
ipsum dolor sit. Lorem ipsum dolor sit.

Third Paragraph. Lorem ipsum dolor sit. Lorem
ipsum dolor sit. Lorem ipsum dolor sit.

It also uses a 0.5 line spacing between paragraphs, another absolute book formatting no-no (I think this comes from MS Word or some other 'word processing' app created by people who know nothing about typesetting ).

My question is: how can I make Calibre apply either of the two paragraph formatting styles I described at the beginning, when converting books to ePub format?

Cheers!

Moritz

Last edited by virtualritz; 05-02-2013 at 07:56 AM.
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Old 05-02-2013, 08:30 AM   #2
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Calibre does SIMPLE format changes. You found them both.

Generally, a simple First Paragraph trick (h3 + p {text-indent: 0; } is unreliable as it assumes the first paragraph always follows a h3 (in my example) tag.

You need to hand edit the first paragraph CODE and create a 'firstparagraph' style (could be much more than just a No Indent )
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Old 05-02-2013, 08:35 AM   #3
DoctorOhh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by virtualritz View Post
My question is: how can I make Calibre apply either of the two paragraph formatting styles I described at the beginning, when converting books to ePub format?
By default calibre doesn't alter paragraph formatting unless you select to change it. Hover over the various items in the conversion preferences for a tool-tip that provides an explanation of how each works. As an example not checking the Remove spacing between paragraphs box will also prevent the indent size value being used. Alternatively putting a negative value in the indent size box should also prevent any indents changing.

Calibre isn't designed to fine tune book formatting. There are other editing tools designed for that purpose.
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Old 05-02-2013, 02:44 PM   #4
virtualritz
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Originally Posted by theducks View Post
Calibre does SIMPLE format changes. You found them both.
It doesn't make them correct. It should do either (indent or add spacing between, not both). The issue with the 1st paragraph is independent of that.
Quote:
Generally, a simple First Paragraph trick (h3 + p {text-indent: 0; } is unreliable as it assumes the first paragraph always follows a h3 (in my example) tag.

You need to hand edit the first paragraph CODE and create a 'firstparagraph' style (could be much more than just a No Indent )
Only if I want the compact style. If I want the 1st style no paragraph ever gets indented but all have a line of spacing added.

For the other case, about 75% of the books I have already come with correct compact paragraph formatting. The 1st paragraph is unindented and following paragraphs are indented but not uniformly.
This non-uniform indentation ist what I wanted to use Calibre for to fix.

Good heuristics would detect this (the existing indentation) and just unify the indentation amount, instead of adding it to paragraphs that don't have it already.

.mm
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Old 05-02-2013, 02:48 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by DoctorOhh View Post
Calibre isn't designed to fine tune book formatting. There are other editing tools designed for that purpose.
I don't consider what I wrote about to be fine tuning.

Calibre just does it wrong. If all it did was remove indentation all together and put one line of spacing between paragraphs (the 'normal' book formatting style), this would be just as "rough" as what it currently does, only it would be nice typesetting.

In any case, which tools would you suggest that allow batch editing of ePubs to apply such changes?

.mm
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Old 05-02-2013, 03:38 PM   #6
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Perhaps you failed to read it the first time: calibre does not change paragraph indentation on conversion, unless you set a conversion option telling it to do so, in which case it changes it for *all* paragraphs. If that's not what you want, dont set the option.

And just to make it clear, calibre is a conversion tool it takes the input and reproduces it as best it can in a different format. If you want to edit a book, use a tool designed for that.
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Old 05-03-2013, 12:47 AM   #7
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I couldnt; get calibre to convert to PDF without indentation - having tried all the things in these threads. Then I discovered that the .CSS file being included in all my HTML files had paragraph indentation set. I removed that and solved the problem.

So, search for text-indent in all your .CSS and .HTM files and make sure you aren't setting it yourself. (I had "borrowed" some typical EPUB .css files from somewhere)
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Old 05-03-2013, 05:57 PM   #8
MSOlsen
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Virtualritz,

I am very confused. Having been responsible for the final typeset of US military publications for over 20 years, the formal rule, required by regulation, was that either all or none of the paragraphs are indented. I have never seen any manual of style, typeset sheet, or other document stating that the 1st paragraph is exempted.

As I am know writing several books of my own, it would be most appreciated if you would direct me to your typeset references so that I can ensure my works are done properly with respect to current convention.
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSOlsen View Post
Virtualritz,

I am very confused. Having been responsible for the final typeset of US military publications for over 20 years, the formal rule, required by regulation, was that either all or none of the paragraphs are indented. I have never seen any manual of style, typeset sheet, or other document stating that the 1st paragraph is exempted.

As I am know writing several books of my own, it would be most appreciated if you would direct me to your typeset references so that I can ensure my works are done properly with respect to current convention.
Fiction Publishing is not restricted to MILSPEC type thinking

There are dozens of ways First Paragraphs are rendered. To name just a few:

All/Small CAP first line
Bold First line
No Indent first Paragraph
Drop or Big first letter
I think I have even seen just the first paragraph in a slightly larger font.
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Old 05-04-2013, 09:14 AM   #10
MSOlsen
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thducks,

Thank you for your insight, I too have seen quite a few variation over the years. However, I was asking Virtualritz for source references specific to the type setting styles he mentioned.

As for MILSPEC thinking, the US Army (1984 - 2009) followed guidelines developed by our Congress for reporting to them. These weres based upon the MLA and APA style guides, so for my work, there was no MILSPEC thinking, but rather an attempt at quality professional type setting. That said, the Army is slow to change so it is quite possible that my knowledge and references are "outdated"; hence my asking Virtualritz to direct me to sources for the styles he mentioned. Of course if anyone else can cite the current type setting references, it would be most helpful.
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