Typography… that works
Carefully designed type can add impact to your site on an almost subconscious level.
Various reports suggest that when assessing business credibility quality of design of your website is a key indicator.
Up to a point some design decisions can be subjective. However, a significant part is about improving usability. So how does choosing how to justify text improve usability?!
Fully justified text
Never say never, however…. Fully justified text is where text lines up on the left and right. When used for headline text, font size varies from line to line.
Often used on TV headlines, it looks tidy and… very awkward to read.
Word spacing can vary so much, it creates ‘rivers’ between the text. This is very distracting. In addition, those with dyslexia will hate you for it.
Left vs. centre aligned text
With left aligned paragraphs a straight left edge appears. Visitors know where the new line will start each time. This means paragraphs are read faster and more articles are likely to be read.
When you centre text, the starting place of each line changes. This forces visitors to work harder to find where each line begins to continue reading.
Without a straight left edge, there is no consistent place where users can move their eyes to when they complete each line. This slows down reading and is likely to discourage long-term engagement.
Tip: if something is easy to use, more people will use it
Can you ever use centred text?
Yes! Reserve it for headlines or captions. If the text is just one or two lines, it’s scannable and requires few repeated eye movements. Use for centered images or within a grid to add symmetry. If your images are left or right aligned, left align your text to keep it consistent with your layout.
Combining centred and left aligned text
When 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.
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 this for one or two line headings or captions.
Follow these rules and you can’t go far wrong.