How to Offset a Paragraph in LaTeX

Written by kevin walker
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LaTeX is widely used in constructing articles for publication in scientific and academic journals because of the ease with which it can handle citations and complex mathematical formulas. However, using it requires a steep learning curve, since all layout options are specified with programming-like commands, including offsetting a single paragraph a little from the left and right margins.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Open a text editor, and type the following to define a trivial LaTeX document:







    .The "\" command specifies a paragraph break, while the "\blindtext" command is used to randomly generate a paragraph of text in order to allow the layout of a page to be previewed.

  2. 2

    Add the following commands before and after the middle "\blindtext" command so that it now looks like this:




    .This creates a grouping for this one paragraph of blind text so that the layout can be manipulated without affecting the rest of the document.

  3. 3

    Add the following command within the "\begingroup" and "\endgroup" commands to have the paragraph margins shifted four em spaces to the left and right:


    \leftskip 4em

    \rightskip 4em



Tips and warnings

  • In LaTeX, commands that alter the structure of the document take effect as soon as they are called and do not lose their effect until the end of the document. For this reason, it is critical to use the "\begingroup" and "\endgroup" commands to ensure that the effects of the paragraph offset affects only the paragraphs you desire and not the full article.

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