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I have been on stack exchange for months, but still haven't figured out how to start a new line. The usual Latex double slash or \newline doesn't seem to work here. Could anyone help?

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    $\begingroup$ Do you see the question-mark button at the top-right of the editor? It gives you menus and an "advanced help" link. $\endgroup$ – dmckee Nov 16 '14 at 4:03
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Line breaks are easy: just leave a blank line between two paragraphs...

...like this. (Helpful tip: to see how any given post was formatted, click on the edit button to the left of the signature.)

You can also force line breaks by using the HTML tag <br>. However, I would strongly advise you not to abuse this and to
let the Stack Exchange Markdown compiler do its thing. Just write your paragraphs, separate them with a blank line, and you're good to go.

If you want a line break within a math block, then you need to use the align environment, where line breaks are implemented by the usual LaTeX double backslash:

$$
    \begin{align}
    a+b & =c \\
    d+e & =f
    \end{align}
    $$
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    $\begingroup$ I didn't mention the blank line thing because the question asked about the equivalent of <br>, which is a line break (implemented by the two spaces), not a paragraph break. I assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that Timo knew about paragraph breaks but not about line breaks. But of course you're right that (probably literally) 99.9% of the time a paragraph break, not a line break, is the right thing to use. $\endgroup$ – David Z Nov 17 '14 at 8:11
  • $\begingroup$ Note that the $$ in your $$\begin{align}...\end{align}$$ are superfluous. The system recognizes what \begin{align}...\end{align} means. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Nov 17 '14 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Kyle I know. But one step at a time. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Nov 17 '14 at 15:31
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I'm a little surprised you've been around for months without having noticed that StackExchange doesn't use LaTeX ;-) Posts here are composed in a variant of Markdown, and as dmckee pointed out in a comment there is an editing help page that explains most features of Markdown syntax, or the particular variant SE uses. Right at the top of the page is

End a line with two spaces to add a <br/> linebreak

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  • $\begingroup$ Whilst on the topic of formatting text, is there any way I can 'justify' my text (in the text alignment sense) to make it look like a neat block? I hate it when the edges are uneven :) $\endgroup$ – JamalS Nov 17 '14 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ @JamalS no, Markdown doesn't do text justification. You could use a custom stylesheet though. $\endgroup$ – David Z Nov 17 '14 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ Do you think SE would entertain that feature request? It's something that's been irking me. $\endgroup$ – JamalS Nov 17 '14 at 14:08
  • $\begingroup$ @JamalS you can certainly ask on Meta Stack Exchange - maybe someone already has - but I doubt it would get implemented. I don't think there are many people who care about justification. And it is simple (in a way) to do yourself; it's just a matter of adding div.post-text {text-align: justify} to a custom stylesheet, although how exactly you do that depends on your browser. $\endgroup$ – David Z Nov 17 '14 at 14:40

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