Readability: Aligning Text

Can Typography Increase Engagement?

aligning textType, if designed well, will improve readability and aid engagement.

First and foremost, select a legible typeface, of a reasonable size.

There’s design principles you can follow, even when deciding how to align text. Once known, you can then follow these, with rigid consistency.

Fully Justified. Tidy, but Unreadable

This is where lines of text line up on both left and right.

not aligning text fully justified

For body copy: vary word spacing. It can vary so much, that ‘rivers’ of whitespace appear between the text. This is very distracting. In addition, those with dyslexia will hate you for it.

For headlines: vary font size from line to line. Often used on TV headlines, it looks tidy but again… very awkward to read.

Why Left Justified works best

aligning text left or centre

With left aligned paragraphs a straight left edge appears. This anchors readers, so they know where the next line will start each time. Paragraphs read faster, so more articles are likely to be read.

With centre text, there is no consistent place to move your eyes to to find the next line. This:

  1. forces visitors to work harder to continue reading
  2. slows down reading, when completing each line
  3. discourages long-term engagement and ‘deep reading’.

When to use Centred Text

You can still use centered text, but reserve it for headlines or captions. If the text is just one or two lines, it’s scannable and requires few repeated eye movements.

Be Consistent

Use full width or centered images within a grid to add symmetry. If your images are left or right aligned, within a body or text, left align your text to retain that straight edge.

Combining Headlines and Body Text

centered-headlinesWhen you combine a centred headline with a left aligned paragraph, the unsymmetrical line lengths of the paragraph will make the headline appear slightly off-center.

Similarly a left aligned heading will lose the symmetrical appearance of your paragraph.

Pair centred headlines with centred paragraphs and left aligned headlines with left aligned paragraphs.

When to Use Right Aligned Text

As with centre aligned text, the reader faces the same issue of dealing with an inconsistent starting positioning for each line.

So only use where there is one or two lines of copy, such as headings or captions.

Follow these rules and you can’t go far wrong.

If it’s easy to use, more people will use it

2017-07-05T12:20:28+00:00 Aug 15, 2014|Readability|