Typographic alignment

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In typesetting and page layout, alignment or range, is the setting of text flow or image placement relative to a page, column (measure), table cell or tab. The type alignment setting is sometimes referred to as text alignment, text justification or type justification.

Basic variations[edit]

There are four basic typographic alignments:

  • flush left—the text is aligned along the left margin or gutter, also known as left-aligned or ragged right;
  • flush right—the text is aligned along the right margin or gutter, also known as right-aligned or ragged left;
  • justified—text is aligned along the left margin, and letter- and word-spacing is adjusted so that the text falls flush with both margins, also known as fully justified or full justification;
  • centered—text is aligned to neither the left nor right margin; there is an even gap on each side of each line.

Note that alignment does not change the direction in which text is read; however text direction may determine the most commonly used alignment for that script.

Flush left[edit]

An example of flush left, ragged right alignment

In English and most European languages where words are read left-to-right, text is usually aligned "flush left", meaning that the text of a paragraph is aligned on the left-hand side with the right-hand side ragged. This is the default style of text alignment on the World Wide Web for left-to-right text [1] Quotations are often indented.

Flush right[edit]

In other languages that read text right-to-left, such as Arabic and Hebrew, text is commonly aligned "flush right". Additionally, flush-right alignment is used to set off special text in English, such as attributions to authors of quotes printed in books and magazines, and is often used when formatting tables of data.

Justified[edit]

A common type of text alignment in print media is "justification", where the spaces between words, and, to a lesser extent, between glyphs or letters, are stretched or compressed to align both the left and right ends of each line of text. When using justification, it is customary to treat the last line of a paragraph separately by simply left or right aligning it, depending on the language direction. Lines in which the spaces have been stretched beyond their normal width are called loose lines, while those whose spaces have been compressed are called tight lines.

Some modern typesetting programs offer four justification options: left justify, right justify, center justify and full justify. These variants specify whether the last line is flushed left, flushed right, centered or fully justified (spread over the whole column width). In programs that do not offer this extra functionality, justify is equal to left justify.

Centered[edit]

Centered text

Text can also be "centered", or symmetrically aligned along an axis in the middle of a column. This is often used for the title of a work, and for poems and songs. As with flush-right alignment, centered text is often used to present data in tables. Centered text is considered less readable for a body of text made up of multiple lines because the ragged starting edges make it difficult for the reader to track from one line to the next.

References[edit]