Whether you’re writing a proposal, newsletter, or even a blog, the top thing on your mind is probably not changing the alignment of your document from its default setting. However, sometimes it’s not the best idea to stay on the ever-so-safe left-justified setting. Consider this: the way in which your page is justified and even the width of your paragraph can have a huge impact not only on the appearance of your writing but also on its readability. Rather than leaving it up to Microsoft or Google to choose the best setting, here’s a quick rundown on how to align your writing documents to make sure people aren’t simply skimming through your valuable content:
Now this is the one that everyone is most familiar with. Yes, that’s right – the famous “default setting” that everyone leaves their document on. As you may have noticed already, the left-justified alignment organizes all the text on the left side to ensure that the left side is completely straight. However, this alignment also leaves the right side to fend for itself as it’s left ragged and uneven. The reason most people are okay with this setting is because the structure makes it easy to find the beginning of each sentence and avoids uneven spacing between words.
As you may have guessed, the right-justified alignment is just what it sounds like — the opposite of the left-justified alignment. For this particular alignment, the left side is left uneven while the right side gets all the glory of being aligned. Now you may be wondering when you’d ever want the right side of a document to be even rather than the left. The answer is quite simple — almost never. The only real reason you would need to align your paper to the right is if you’re creating a caption under an image that’s, well, on the right side. Unless you’re a professional graphic designer, the right-side alignment is most likely never going to be touched.
Once again, you can probably put together what the centered alignment entails. (We know – the names of these alignments are far from creative.) In the centered alignment, the text is centered in the middle of the document. This means that both the right and left sides are left uneven. So why would anyone want that? Although it may be hard to keep track of beginnings and endings for long text, for shorter texts such as quotes, invitations, and titles, following the text isn’t as difficult. In fact, it’s a great way to make your text look much more formal and elegant.
Even on both the right and left sides, this alignment is as formal as you can get. Rather than being justified to a certain side, this alignment is just all around, completely, 100% plain justified. If you want your document to shout “this is serious,” this is the perfect alignment to use. Ideal for things such as newspaper articles, editorials, biographies, and other professional documents, this alignment is not playing any games. However, one thing to be careful of is the appearance of odd spacing that occurs between words known as “rivers.” These unsightly spaces happen in order to keep both the right and left side even. However, by simply changing your setting to add “hyphenation,” these rivers can be avoided. Instead of trying to fit the entire word onto the line, it’ll cut off the word and add the “hyphen” (remember learning that from our last blog?) to finish the word in the next line.
With your writing all straightened out, you’re all set for the printing press… or to press “post” on that next blog. Love our tips on typography? Stay tuned for the next typography blog post that’s sure to keep your writing on top!