RE: Justified or Not

Subject: RE: Justified or Not
From: Christi Carew <ccarew -at- rangestar -dot- com>
To: 'Dick Margulis' <margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2000 15:22:48 -0700

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dick Margulis [mailto:margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net]
> Subject: RE: Justified or Not

> I respectfully suggest that as free agents we are empowered
> to do some things that are not backed up by a study.

As I do (probably more often than I realize).

> 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.

I was mostly curious how the posters (you or otherwise) had come to the
conclusion that is was the "right" choice. Study or convention---either way
it's nice to know what the post is based on.

> 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.

Newspapers do have that convention. However, I don't think similar
conventions exists for the types of docs that many of us write (user guides,
training manuals, etc).

> 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.

And the only way to learn about conventions and traditions (and studies for
that matter) is to ask (at a search engine or on this list), which is what I

> <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>

I could learn best if they (the "people who came before me"_ would give me
some reason for their statements. However, just because "it's always been
done that way" also doesn't make it the best. I'll certainly listen and
watch at what's been done before me, but I won't follow it blindly. I'd
prefer to have at least a little explanation behind it.

So far, the only instance I've seen on when full justify is the "right
choice" is in newspapers (and maybe someone mentioned it in regards to
magazines). However, that's not (in my, perhaps limited) view of tech
writing (granted, depending on the magazine).
The original poster wrote "How do you all feel about justifying documents?"
Somehow, I get the feeling she doesn't work for a newspaper. I would (on a
limb) guess that she's working on some sort of user documentation.
I can pick up my variety of user documentation that's come with various
softwares, and I'm not sure I do see a convention.

Not sure how to end. So I'll just stop writing.

Christi Carew
ccarew -at- rangestar -dot- com

RangeStar Wireless

All communication contained in this e-mail is entirely my own and is not
necessarily endorsed by my co-workers or employer.

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