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MagentaDesigner
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I find that on certain sites, text-justification essentially looks better on the layout. I'm working on such site, however, when I justify the text, there are huge spaces in between words. Is this the nature of text justification or is there another way to tweak this?

rmcivo1
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Text Alignment and Spacing

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roytheboy
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Text Alignment and Spacing

I think you might be expecting too much from the common browser. When text is set by a typesetter or DTP programme, the spacing between each pair of letters and words is exactly calculated by reference to vast kerning tables that contain ideal spacing ratios between most combinations of letters. The better the font, the more kerning information that is supplied with it. But even then a good typographer will often hand-tweek the spacing of letters and words to prevent rivers (visual alignment of word spaces) and such-like. Professional-level typography requires a skill-set just as complex as a programer's.

When text is both right and left justified, complex calculations have to carried out to determine how best to fit the letters and words within the measure (the length of the line of text), with varying levels of success - and that's using proper software and kerning tables.

Now, you take your average browser, working with very limited font data from the local system, and you will realise that the standards of kerning needed to justify text to typesetting standards just aren't achievable (yet). With long measures this won't be very noticeable, but with tight measures this can look appalling. As someone who understands typography, my advice would be to avoid justified text columns if you can, for the sake of legibility.

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co2
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Text Alignment and Spacing

Absolutely agree with Roy... I come from a typography background. The test of a good typesetter/typographer is their ability to deal with justified text in particular, and how to deal with the complexities of spacing betweem the words and letters.

Don't expect to achieve such a level of control in HTML and CSS. There are ways and workarounds, but you would go mad and end up on prescription drugs before you attained anything like a good bit of set printed text.

Add in the factor that control of negative space around letters in print typography is far more accurate (to thousands of an em), compared to the meaty sized single pixel, and; the fact that type viewed on screen is no where near to print quality... you get the picture!

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roytheboy
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Text Alignment and Spacing

co2 wrote:
Add in the factor that control of negative space around letters in print typography is far more accurate (to thousands of an em), compared to the meaty sized single pixel

Oh yes; I had it in my mind to mention that and then forgot to. :roll:

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harlequeen
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justified text

I'd also like to add that reading justified text is difficult as the ragged edges in normal text help the eye to follow on. Straight edges all round make this difficult where there is a great deal of text.

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roytheboy
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Text Alignment and Spacing

As a point of discussion, I'd like to disagree with you. Justified text is certainly less comfortable on the eye because of the varying letter/word spacing (and that's in print let alone on the web), but I can't see the logic in your statement as the eye follows a line without reference to what is around it. Just my opinion Smile

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gary.turner
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Text Alignment and Spacing

roytheboy wrote:
As a point of discussion, I'd like to disagree with you. Justified text is certainly less comfortable on the eye because of the varying letter/word spacing (and that's in print let alone on the web), but I can't see the logic in your statement as the eye follows a line without reference to what is around it. Just my opinion Smile
I think I'll pitch tent in Harlequeen's camp on this one. In the interest of full disclosure, let it be known that as far as typography is concerned, I'm talking through my hat. However, as an erstwhile student of speed reading, I recall that the experts say the eye/mind is aware of the entire column and takes cues from the line lengths to control the scan. Fully justified columns are more tiring and slow the scan because of the lack of those line length cues.

With narrow columns and short paragraphs (think newspapers), full justification is acceptable, maybe even preferable, because the eye does not scan horizontally. In that case, the eye picks a spot about one-third in from the left, reading the entire line, and scans down.

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gary

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roytheboy
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Text Alignment and Spacing

I agree that short measures are easy to read due to the reduced distance of the scan-back (for want of a better term) and for when speed-reading entire lines in one go, but for normal reading of longer measures e.g. this forum), the eye jumps from word to the next, or from a group of words to the next group. Given that ragged-right blocks of text only differ in length by about half-a-dozen characters on average (less than one word length), I still fail to see that this will have any bearing whatsoever on readability, no matter what the experts say. What do others think?

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