RE: Justified or Not

Subject: RE: Justified or Not
From: "Dick Margulis" <margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>, Christi Carew <ccarew -at- rangestar -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2000 15:17:11 -0400


I respectfully suggest that as free agents we are empowered to do some things that are not backed up by a study. When I (not Jeff) wrote that "justified text is the right choice in some circumstances," I was basing that on typographic conventions that are hundreds of years old, not on some snot-nosed grad student's sloppy research.

Look. Most people are entirely oblivious to the typographic choices we make. That is as it should be. The last thing you want is for a reader to say, "Gee, isn't the typography nice!" (Well, okay, that's the second-last thing. The last thing is, "Gee, the typography sucks!") What you want is for the typography to be completely transparent so the reader sees only the content.

Given this goal, conventions are important. If it is conventional--as it is--for a newspaper to be set justified, then there is nothing to be gained other than narcissistic jollies by setting a newspaper rag right.

So I think the correct approach is not to ask for studies and wait until the results are published. For one thing, I could design a study in two minutes that, if executed, would draw the opposite conclusion. The correct approach, IMHO, is to study the craft, learn the conventions and traditions, emulate successful designs, and use your eyes to decide what works and what doesn't.

<sermon>The people who came before you in this business are not idiots just because they came before you. You can learn from them if you open your eyes and your mind.</sermon>


Christi Carew wrote:

>Sorry for the late post (I was out yesterday).
>Has there been a study on why "Justified text is the right choice in some
>circumstances (especially multiple columns)"? I know that I prefer ragged
>right; it makes it much easier for me to keep my place. I usually use ragged
>right even in multiple columns.
>I've never seen an arguement on why full justification is better. Not that
>I've looked for that argument, but I haven't seen anything in this
>discussion either (relating to _why_ one way might be better in certain
>situations versus other situations).

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