Re: Readability of Full vs. Left-Justified Text in Word 2002

Subject: Re: Readability of Full vs. Left-Justified Text in Word 2002
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 03 Apr 2003 20:30:38 -0800

Robert Whitaker wrote:

I am also aware that DTP tools such as
FrameMaker are much better at proportional spacing
than Word.

Neither MS Word nor FrameMaker is especially good at full-justification. To get decent full-justification, you have to use a DTP program. PageMaker is a step up; In-Design and Quark two steps up; there are also professional typesetting programs that experts prefer over anything.
Moreover, no matter what tool you're using, to do a really decent job of full-justification generally means going over a document line by line, if not word by word. For most technical document, this effort is usually not considered worthwhile, since it makes later revisions more difficult.

In both MS Word and FrameMaker, full-justification can often lead to rivers of white space running through the lines. The problem is especially acute in columns or with a short line space.

In other words, the reason that some people, including your boss, prefer full-justification has little to do with aesthetics. In most cases, the reason for the preference is technical: until the emergence of the personal computer, any attempt at full justification was next to impossible for the average person. As a result, when word processors made full justification a possibility, many people jumped at the chance to use it on the grounds that it looked more sophisticated.

Among typographers, however, the general consensus is that, with a tool like MS Word, you're better off with left-justified text. Do a search, and you should have no problem finding dozens of expert opinions to back up this contention.

Bruce Byfield bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com 604.421.7177

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Readability of Full vs. Left-Justified Text in Word 2002: From: Robert Whitaker

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