Justified versus ragged right? (take II)

Subject: Justified versus ragged right? (take II)
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L List <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Fred Ridder <docudoc -at- hotmail -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2008 11:28:55 -0400

Fred Ridder noted: <<Sorry, but I don't buy this argument, for the
simple reason that the primary method of achieving justification is
by expanding spacing of the character on each line so that the line
extends all the way to the right margin.>>

That's not quite correct. As you noted later in your message, the
primary method involves seeing how much text you can bring up from
the following line by means of changing the spacing (within and
between words), and by allowing judicious hyphenation. If you ignore
this difference from ragged right, then of course you get lousy
typography and no space savings. If you embrace this difference, you
get more words per line and a space saving.

This isn't just opinion: you can prove it to yourself in about 30
seconds using any software and any chunk of text. I've seen this
change in repeated testing with a range of documents and type
settings. (One of my former jobs involved copyfitting -- cramming
text into a limited space without sacrificing legibility.)

<<In most desktop applications, all of the expansion occurs in the
inter-word spacing, causing rivers and degading readability
(according to studies cited in the STC paper that was cited in this

That's true if you accept the default settings and you're talking
about a word processor rather than desktop publishing software. But
again, you're talking about incompetent typography, not proper
typesetting. Again, you can prove this is incorrect in about 30
seconds by dumping a chunk of text into InDesign. Even the default
spacings in that software largely eliminate rivers and poor spacing,
and you can get superb results if you tweak those settings.

-- Geoff Hart
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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RE: Justified versus ragged right: From: Downing, David
Justified versus ragged right? (take II): From: Geoff Hart
RE: Justified versus ragged right? (take II): From: Fred Ridder

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