Justification (typesetting)

From Academic Kids

In typesetting, justification, or alignment, is the horizontal positioning and alignment of text or images within a line, typically relative to a column. In English and most European languages where words are read left-to-right, text is often left-justified ("flush left"), meaning that the text of a paragraph is aligned on the left-hand side with the right-hand side left ragged. This is the default style of text justification on the World Wide Web.



In other languages that read text right-to-left, such as Arabic and Hebrew, text is commonly right-justified ("flush right"). Additionally, right-justification 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.



Additionally, text can be centered in the middle of a column with center justification. This is often used to clearly show the title of a work, and can be used when quoting poems and songs. However, quotations are also frequently indented. Like with right-justification, center-justified text is often used to present data in tables. Centered text is considered less readable for multiple lines of uneven text because of the lack of a regular edge line for the eye to follow.



However, one of the most common types of justification in print media is full justification (or simply "justification"), where the spaces between words, and to a lesser extent between glyphs or letters, are stretched or sometimes compressed in order to make the text align on both the left and right sides. When using full justification it is customary to treat the last line of a paragraph separately by simply left or right justifying it, depending on the language direction. A line 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.


Another type of justification sometime used in tables is the alignment on a specified character, for instance a decimal point.

        375.87
         23.678
        389.3

Justification can sometimes lead to typographical anomalies, especially the use of full justification. When the spaces between words line up approximately above one another on several loose lines, a distracting visual pattern called a river may appear. Another problem especially prevalent when using full justification in narrow columns, such as in many newspapers, is when an exceptionally large space appears between two words (called a loose line). These may often be solved through the use of hyphenation or by rewriting the text to use smaller words.

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