Practical Graphic Design Advice for Creative People

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Choosing an alignment for your designs can be tricky. Most times you want to produce something artistic and dramatic, but the regular left align becomes too boring.

Here are some examples of where each type of alignment would be best used:

When to use Fully Justified text

Fully justified text is formal and unfriendly, but it can pack a lot of characters per line and it may be more familiar to your audience used in magazines and other publications.

You might also be drawn to it because of its neatness. However, you need to watch out for white spaces flowing down through the text. These are called rivers. Rivers for the most part can be fixed up through letter spacing, word spacing and hyphenation.

You must also watch for widows, which are the shorter lines or one words that sometimes end up at the end of a column or orphans, which are the like a widow but appear at the top of a column and are usually the last line from the previous paragraph.

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When to use Centre Alignment

 Centre alignment is best used for titles, poems, or songs. These are less readable in a body of text. Non designers tend to think that by using centre alignment everything becomes balanced and therefore the design becomes better.  Centre alignment is the weakest and hardest to read and needs to be used carefully.

When to use Left Alignment

Left alignment is more informal and friendlier then the fully justified alignment. It avoids uneven spaces that fully justified presents and eliminates the risk of rivers.  The ragged right edges adds the element of white space, which adds visual interest to the design. This is easier to work with and easiest to read, because the eye has no difficulty in locating the beginning of a new line.

When to use Right Alignment

Right alignment is great for captions, side bars or to give acknowledgment to authors of quotes. Right alignment can also be used in small paragraphs to add interest to your design. Larger paragraphs can be demanding to your audience, because unlike left alignment, it is harder to locate the beginning of a new line due to the ragged right edge.

When to use Free Form Alignment

Free form alignment is fun. This is where you can really challenge your creativity and set lines of copy throughout your design to create an artistic flow. It is best used in situations where information is minimal and visual impact is the goal of the design.

 To Summarize:

Alignment is an important concept in typography and you do not always have to abide by alignment guidelines if you are going for a particular artistic look. Remember: no matter which alignment you choose from, be consistent throughout your design for easy readability.

What is your design alignment like? Do you play it safe with the trusted left alignment or do you prefer to challenge your creativity with free form?