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Exploring variations in type alignment

From: Foundations of Typography

Video: Exploring variations in type alignment

The next step in arranging letters well is the alignment of type. There are five possible kinds of alignment, Flush left, Flush right, Justified, Centered, and Random, also known as asymmetrical. These are few more terms to add your type vocabulary. When lines of type are aligned on the left, we say it is flush left. Notice that the words are uneven or ragged on the right that is rag right. This is a common form of typesetting because we read from left to right and flush left type allows us to find our place on the next line more easily.

Exploring variations in type alignment

The next step in arranging letters well is the alignment of type. There are five possible kinds of alignment, Flush left, Flush right, Justified, Centered, and Random, also known as asymmetrical. These are few more terms to add your type vocabulary. When lines of type are aligned on the left, we say it is flush left. Notice that the words are uneven or ragged on the right that is rag right. This is a common form of typesetting because we read from left to right and flush left type allows us to find our place on the next line more easily.

When lines of type are aligned on the right, we call that flush right and uneven on the left, rag left. Flush right is not good for lengthy reading because the eye will have a hard time finding the next line on the left on the left when the lines are uneven. When lines of type are aligned both on the left and the right, it's called justified type. Because all of the lines are the same length and the margins are even, this creates a quiet, balanced, formal look. Most books, magazines and newspapers are set with justified columns of type.

Justified lines are created by varying the word spacing. The most common problem that you need to watch out for with justified type is gappy word spacing. Sometimes you will see rivers of space in a passage of text. This is not good. It usually happens if the lines are too short, and there aren't enough places to add space. In some cases, this can be fixed by adjusting the tracking. There are two other kinds of alignment, centered and asymmetrical.

You might see centered alignment on an invitation, for example, but it should not be used for lengthy reading, for the same reason as flush right text, the eye has to find its place on the next line, and it is harder when the next line starts in a different place each time. One last type of alignment is random or asymmetrical. Random arrangements can be visually exciting, but again are not good for lengthy reading. Type can be set in curves, patterns or shapes for dramatic effect.

Here's a great example of a book cover that uses random alignment. This headline creates a sense of energy and drama. The subhead is flush left, rag right and the text in each balloon is centered. It's fun and inviting and makes me want to read this book. You can mix alignments. Let's look at a couple of good examples which demonstrate how mixed alignments can work well together. In this poster, we see flush left type at the top. The title, The CHERRY ORCHARD is centered on the image.

There is also a quote that is set in centered type. There is justified type under the logo PS 21 and the remainder of the type is all aligned flush left to the right of the logo. The mixing of alignments creates a dynamic tension and yet it looks organized. The two main columns at the left in this example are justified. The blue display text in the center is flush right. Text at the very bottom is flush left and the text in the far right is centered.

Everything is separate and balanced and every piece of text is completely legible. Also note the beautiful typographic color in the body copy. Those are the five types of alignment and some guidelines for when you should consider using them. Most of the time you will find that you will be setting your type for everyday reading, and that means flush left or justified settings. Selecting the proper alignment or mix of alignments will help your reader navigate and can add a dynamic quality to your layouts.

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This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Typography
Foundations of Typography

46 video lessons · 30223 viewers

Ina Saltz
Author

 
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  1. 9m 5s
    1. Welcome
      1m 58s
    2. Why good typography matters
      1m 55s
    3. The power of type
      1m 53s
    4. The theory of typographic relativity
      1m 53s
    5. Getting the most out of this course
      1m 26s
  2. 23m 49s
    1. Serif vs. sans serif
      3m 27s
    2. Display type vs. text type
      3m 39s
    3. Type history
      2m 48s
    4. Type classification
      4m 8s
    5. Other type categories
      3m 24s
    6. Guidelines for combining typefaces
      3m 49s
    7. Using cases
      2m 34s
  3. 18m 28s
    1. Anatomy: Parts and shapes of type
      4m 35s
    2. Size and measurements of type
      2m 18s
    3. Type families: Widths, weights, and slopes
      3m 53s
    4. Reviewing the terminology of type, based on function
      3m 27s
    5. Working with color and tonal weight: Exercises
      4m 15s
  4. 20m 27s
    1. Kerning and kerning pairs
      3m 33s
    2. Tracking and leading
      3m 49s
    3. Exploring variations in type alignment
      3m 55s
    4. Hyphenation and justification
      3m 13s
    5. Indents, outdents, and hanging punctuation
      2m 26s
    6. Other typographic best practices
      3m 31s
  5. 10m 3s
    1. Where type begins: The mark of the hand
      2m 28s
    2. Related parts and shapes: Family resemblances
      4m 35s
    3. Designing a typeface
      3m 0s
  6. 22m 19s
    1. How legibility and readability differ
      3m 48s
    2. Examining factors affecting legibility
      4m 46s
    3. Hierarchy and functionality
      4m 29s
    4. Systematized hierarchy
      3m 52s
    5. Paragraphs, drop caps, and entry points
      2m 41s
    6. Typographic abominations
      2m 43s
  7. 11m 8s
    1. Opposing forces of typography
      3m 8s
    2. The grid: A structure for containing type
      3m 6s
    3. Contrast and scale
      4m 54s
  8. 9m 41s
    1. Typographic expressiveness
      3m 22s
    2. The emotional impact of type
      2m 47s
    3. Three-dimensional type
      3m 32s
  9. 8m 55s
    1. Working with numbers
      2m 10s
    2. Expert characters and analphabetic symbols
      1m 56s
    3. Using typography to navigate content
      1m 51s
    4. Using typography to navigate the environment
      2m 58s
  10. 9m 14s
    1. Managing fonts and building your type library
      3m 14s
    2. Developing your typographic eye
      2m 31s
    3. Breaking the rules
      1m 41s
    4. What's next
      1m 48s

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