Are you listening?
Every week I am asked this same question,
“Why do you justify your text?”
To be clear, they are not asking what the basis or justification is for what I write. They instead want to know why I utilize the “justify” button and line up my text on the page.
There is a simple answer. I like it that way!
I cannot always “justify” what I write. It is dependent on who I am writing for. When I am writing here on Cheri Speak I can pretty much do what I want and I do. However, when I am writing for a publisher I have to follow the rules aka each publisher’s “submission guidelines” which sometimes are not universal. If you are writing for someone else, be sure to look for or ask for their guidelines (if for some reason they are not available to you or you are going in blind, do not justify your text).
This or That?
In the past, text was rarely justified. These days, more people and organizations are beginning to “justify” their text from Blogs, to books, to newspapers, newsletters and more. There is not a “right” or “wrong” answer to the question of whether to “justify” or not (unless of course guidelines for a specific publication tell you otherwise). All I can do is share with you why I do it, i.e. I will justify my justification.
I like my pages — whether typed out on a screen or printed out on a page, to look crisp and linear like those printed in a newspaper or magazine. I like the straight up and down edges with images carefully placed within the text. Images look so much better when text is justified because the words frame them nicely. I also think justifying makes it easier on the readers eyes. The jagged right hand text of un-justified work looks messy to me.
Don’t Space Out
I do realize (and so should you) that when one justifies text it can stretch words out with ridiculous spacing so I take the time to alleviate that as much as possible by omitting — or sometimes adding, words when needed. This usually only takes a few minutes at most and to me, it is well worth the time and is also a great exercise in trimming the fat off what we write. You can save time with this step simply by beginning your piece already aligned with justification. You will be able to correct issues as you go.
Another advantage of justification is that you can put more characters per line then you can with un-justified text. I am not a big fan of unnecessary “white space” left unused on a page (unless I am designing a graphic print add for a client). I also do not like to have pages that are so text heavy and blocky looking that I lose a reader’s attention by overwhelming them which is why I use sub-headings and images to break up the text and help move them through the piece. Imagine going to someones Blog to read an article that is 100 lines long…now imagine the same exact text, in the same font and size showing as only 80 lines long, which would you be more apt to read? The shorter “looking” one of course!
Be a Designer
Writing is a craft; an art. We organize and design what we want to say and put it out there for the world to see so why not fully design the page itself? Every Blog post I make is its own work of art and I take pride it my presentation. Cheri Speak is its own mini-mag with topics on a variety of subjects, but as part of my “Brand” I try to have a consistent look and feel across the board. Justifying my text is just a part of my over-all design.