# Producing inelegant documents with LyX

Dear LyX devs,


I discovered LyX sometime in 2007 (LyX 1.4.3?) and it served wonderfully for the kind of tasks that my dear old Word 95 simply couldn't handle -- big mathematics documents full of equations and diagrams and cross-references. It was the cross-references that seemed to grind Word to a halt. LyX has continued to improve and I use it now for all my 'considered' writing, but until recently I still resorted to Word 95 to write letters to friends and family -- for 'casual' writing.


Using LyX 'out of the box' for such writing produces two problems. Justified text in an informal letter, to a close family member or friend, just seems wrong, almost pompous. And the default margins are far too generous, bringing forth barbed comments about the unnecessary cutting down of trees. Okay, LyX lets me choose flush left paragraphs to give a ragged-right effect and I can adjust the margins to the sort of values I used in Word, 2.5 cm top, bottom, left and right for A4 paper. But with about 90 characters to a line (12 pt type), to my eye you need more than just extra space to distinguish paragraphs, and for that matter first line indentation alone also doesn't seem to be enough. What is needed is what Word so easily provides: both first line indentation AND extra space.


Which is what the following module achieves (I make no pretence at coding competence; I arrived at this by bumbling and fumbling): ragged-right, first line indented and extra-spaced paragraphs. Instead of having to fire up an 'opposition' word processor to create an informal letter to family or friend, I can now do this easily from within LyX. (The 2.5 cm margins still need to be set explicitly from Document>Settings>Page margins.)


Whether this module meets your approval or not, I think use-cases of this kind should be easily accommodated by LyX. Although the result is not an elegant document, it is also not a random assemblage of formatting elements. Ragged-right, indenting and extra spacing have a rationale. In any case, LyX becomes habit-forming, and I resent having to go elsewhere to do ANY kind of writing.

Andrew Parsloe

#\DeclareLyXModule[hanging.sty]{Informal}
#DescriptionBegin
# Adds a ragged-right, first-line-indented paragraph
# environment with paragraphs separated by extra space.
#DescriptionEnd

Format 34

Style informal
Category              MainText
LatexType             Environment
LatexName             informal
Margin                Static
ParIndent             MMM
TopSep                .4
BottomSep             .4
ParSep                .4
Align                 Left
AlignPossible         Left
Preamble
\usepackage{hanging}
\newenvironment{informal}{%
\setlength{\parskip}{\medskipamount}
\par\raggedright\begin{hangparas}{3em}{-1}}{%
\end{hangparas}}
EndPreamble
End