I have a question about dialogue indents. I'm proofreading a piece for my proofreading course and I've come across something that's stumped me.

The first 6 lines of the story are dialogue and they are all unindented. The prose doesn't start until line 7 and that's unindented too.

Now, do I indent them all or just the first line? And what about the prose on line 7? Do I indent that too or leave it unindented?

I'm using Oxford's Hart's Rules for guidance but it doesn't say much about this. Any help would be appreciated.

  • 1
    Except for the first paragraph of a section, chapter, etc. the first line of each paragraph is indented, whether it is dialogue or prose. Commented May 3, 2016 at 16:45
  • @Tave this should be an answer, not a comment.
    – TriskalJM
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 14:19
  • Is this really part of a proofreader's job? I would have thought that this is an issue for the typesetter to deal with.
    – evilsoup
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 21:43
  • 2
    @evilsoup A proofreader or editor handles consistency and adherence to a style guide, so yes, this is an issue for a proofreader.
    – TriskalJM
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 21:29

1 Answer 1


According to Hart's Rules, Section 3.2 Paragraphs has the relevant info:

New paragraphs following headings should be ranged full left. New paragraphs not following a heading should be indented one tab.

Leave the first line of the story alone, but the dialogue and the paragraphs following should each have a single tab indentation for the first line. The following lines should be ranged full left (to use Hart's nomenclature).

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