The Compound Paragraph – Example

Medieval scribes and orators developed the paragraph near the time the Gutenberg press was invented. A scribe would draw on parchment an ornamental symbol called a pilcrow, which served to prompt an orator to read the text to the public. Sometimes, a scribe would leave the space open for another scribe to draw a pilcrow, but most of the time, the space was left blank. When printing became popular, typesetters were reluctant to use the pilcrow at the beginning of a paragraph when a space would serve the same purpose. Thus, the paragraph was born and grew up as a change in the printed page; the modern paragraph has grown up with style and emerged as a change in prose. The new literacy combined with massive audiences who could afford to buy books, newspapers, and magazines created a demand for prose during the Victorian era. Readers grew accustomed to seeing the paragraph printed in its flag-like formation, with the indentation being the emblem and the last line signifying the wave. Even with a blank line replacing the indentation, a paragraph still looks like a banner raised by the charging cavalry to trumpet the coming change. Everybody hearing the trumpet usually cheers the cavalry, and readers especially welcome the coming change.