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If you have taken any course in graphic design or read anything about graphic design, you have probably read that you should not use Center Alignment. That's more or less true I think, Center Alignment can tend to look a bit stale, a bit safe, a bit conservative, overall a bit boring. And that's not to say that it doesn't have its place. And when used well, it can be very effective, it can create a quite sophisticated look to your documents, but centering tends to be an alignment that beginning designers gravitate towards exactly because it is safe, the spacing on either side of each line is exactly equal.
So that is both its strength in some circumstances and its weakness. Because we have spacing that's exactly equal either side, what we don't have is any tension, everything is very much locked in place, very stabilized by having an exact amount of space there equal to that amount of space there, and this amount of space here equal to this amount of space here. That said, there are going to be times when we do want to center, I'm not suggesting that you should never center your text.
That would be silly. But if we are going to center our text, then there are a few things that we need to take into consideration. So I have centered this text, and now I'm just going to compare it with the same text where I have used Balanced Ragged Lines. Let me zoom out so that we can see the two together. And Balance Ragged Lines is going to do exactly what it claims to do, it's going to give you lines of equal length or as close as possible to equal length.
And that's I think an improvement, but while fixing some problems, i.e., the problem of having the single word as the last line, it is creating others. And the other problems that it's creating is that while it's balancing the lines, it's not doing so in an intelligent way, and thankfully, we still need humans to do this sort of thing. So, I'm going to turn on this third layer. And for the third layer, what I have done is I have come in, and I'm breaking the lines for sense. Now, it says subjective decision on my part, what sense I'm trying to draw out of this text.
But I want to accentuate its meaning, while at the same time, trying to achieve a good silhouette or shape with the type. So, to make a forced line break or soft return, I just put my cursor in front of the word and use Shift+Return, and that's going to take everything to the right of the cursor down to the next line, and I might need to do that a few times just to knock that text into shape. So, that's what I have done down here, and that's the result, and now we can compare those three different results.
The centering that we get straight out of the tune, not really very good, the balanced ragged lines and improvement, the balanced ragged lines with manual intervention and improvement beyond that. Let's look at some other issues involved with centering. I'm now going to switch files, and this is something that may come up every once in a while. If you are centering your headlines, I have mentioned this issue before--not specifically to do with centering but more broadly--there's a difference between Mathematical Alignment and Optical Alignment.
And what we have on the left-hand side is Mathematical Alignment, but what we want is Optical Alignment. We want it to look right regardless of whether it's mathematically correct. So, this centered headline--and by the way, I must say I'm not a big fan of Centered Headline, so I would never actually do this, but some people might, and there may be times when it's a good choice. I don't think this is one of them, but this is what we're working with. This Headline is centered between the left-hand edge and the right-hand edge, but really, we want it to be centered above the first line of type, because visually, that's what we're looking at.
We're not going to see the edges of the text frame, we're just going to see that first line of type, and that's what we want to center it to. So, how do we achieve this? Well, here's one way. Let's get our Frame tool. What I'm going to do is I'm going to draw a frame that measures that bit of space right there, and then I'm going to come to my Control panel where it tells me that, that space is 3 picas and 8 points. So I can highlight that value and copy it and then double-click to insert my type cursor into the Headline and come to the Right Alignment field, where I will paste that, and then it's going to move that 3 picas and 8 points to the left so that now I should find that I have got equal spacing left, and right of that headline according to the first line of type.
So, that's how you can make sure that you optically align your headlines, should you choose to center your headlines. And the third document that I want to look at in this movie, and this is just a simple demonstration of why Center Alignment doesn't work, so we have got two different versions, one with center alignment, and the one beneath it with a combination of left alignment and right alignment, and I would argue that the bottom one is much more dynamic. It creates much more interesting white space between the top piece of information, and the bottom piece of information, whereas the top version just looks very much locked into place, very static, very safe, and rather dull.
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