[Tex/LaTex] the difference between \\ and skipping a line?

paragraphs

What different effects do ending a paragraph in the following three ways have?

1.

    words words words

    words words words

2.

    words words words\\
    words words words

3.

    words words words\\

    words words words

Best Answer

As I said in my comment, "The first provides a paragraph break, the second is a forced line break within a paragraph, which is not generally recommended. Since many LaTeX actions are only executed at the end of a paragraph, the seeming small difference in syntax can have a profound appearance on the output."

Here are some examples of functional differences.

\documentclass[a4paper]{article}


\begin{document}

CENTERING:

{
line 1

line 2\centering

}

\noindent versus

{
line 1\\
line 2\centering

}

\noindent\hrulefill

PARAGRAPH SPACING AND INDENTS

{\parskip 1em
line 1

line 2

}

\noindent versus

{\parskip 1em
line 1\\
line 2

}

\noindent\hrulefill

LEFT AND RIGHT SKIPS

{
line 1

line 2\leftskip 1in

}

\noindent versus

{
line 1\\
line 2\leftskip 1in

}

\end{document}

enter image description here

Note this code can be automated in a macro (note that an extra blank line is the same thing as a \par for the purposes of LaTeX):

\documentclass[a4paper]{article}
\newcommand\stencil[3]{\par\bgroup#2 line 1#1line 2#3\par\egroup}
\begin{document}
CENTERING:

\stencil{\par}{}{\centering}
\noindent versus
\stencil{\\}{}{\centering}
\noindent\hrulefill

PARAGRAPH SPACING AND INDENTS

\stencil{\par}{\parskip 1em}{}
\noindent versus
\stencil{\\}{\parskip 1em}{}

\noindent\hrulefill

LEFT AND RIGHT SKIPS

\stencil{\par}{}{\leftskip 1in}
\noindent versus
\stencil{\\}{}{\leftskip 1in}
\end{document}