Strong opinions, weakly held

Right justified text is coming

First, Blaine Cook says that ragged right is an abomination. Now Tim Bray jumps on board. Have I been conditioned by reading things on screen for so many years to prefer the old ragged right treatment? Will all of us soon be updating our blogs to hyphenate and justify our text? If I were going to go that route, I’d probably have to switch back to a serif font. I think that sans serif and right justified just look wrong together.


  1. Adam Vandenberg

    April 3, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I don’t even know what I like anymore, but I know I do not like non-hyphenated justified text, as seen in the “default blue WordPress theme” for instances. The gaps are too wide.

  2. For fairly uniform text, jagged looks fine even though I am a fan of justified text. Hyphenation is necessary for justified text, however — and while there are JS-based solutions, I’d prefer built-in browser hyphenation (maybe triggered by CSS?).

  3. For some five years my blog has been both left and right justified (text-align: justify). I’ve also set the font and column width to have lines of about 10 words. Ie: it’s typeset the way a newspaper column is supposed to be.

    It mostly works fine. IE has always handled kerning and word spacing reasonably well. Chrome and Firefox used to do badly but have gotten better over time. The main nuisance is that even at a generous 12pt font size, the content column only needs about 450 pixels wide. That doesn’t really fill a modern 800 or 1000 pixel wide browser layout.

    Truthfully, none of this matters: I suspect most people who read my blog read it via RSS where all my style is ignored.

  4. How does hyphenation work with text searching on the page? If I can’t search for what I want it doesn’t matter how it’s formatted.

  5. Depends on the JavaScript library you use for hyphenation and which browser you’re using.

  6. The claim that ragged-right is categorically “an abomination” is simply not a statement that any serious designer would make. It’s like claiming that the key of E flat is evil.

    Just judging from the pieces you link to, I don’t find the legibility of either Tim Bray’s or Blaine Cook’s sites anything to write home about. Yours, in its current layout, is much better.

  7. The first link in the comments of Brays post is a must read


    “Fast readers performed best under the two-column left-justified condition, and slow readers performed best under the one-column left-justified condition.”

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