Re: research on justified vs. ragged right

Subject: Re: research on justified vs. ragged right
From: "Tim Altom" <taltom -at- simplywritten -dot- com>
To: "TechDoc List" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 1999 17:33:44 -0500

Methinks there are too many variables unaccounted for. It's the same
argument that springs to life from time to time about serif versus sans
serif fonts and readability. I suspect that the studies would have to
control for what the readers are familiar with. Hebrew readers don't find
their readability impaired by reading right to left. I'd imagine that
ancient Egyptians weren't bothered by those pesky cartouches. People like me
who read lots of books with full justification wouldn't be as bothered by it
as those who don't.

Horton's book is now ancient history, with a copyright date of 1994. In
layout software terms, that is. When he wrote that book, PageMaker was a
dog. That being said, our in-house typographical guru, Jerilynne, weighs in
with the opinion that while Horton is no longer right about the tools, he's
still right about the *operators*. Full justification requires more sagacity
and tool familiarity than 99% of the desktop publishing world can muster.
Full justification lends a more formal feel to the work, and it's quite
attractive when done properly, but like all delicate work it takes
experience, judgment, and finesse. Done incorrectly, it leaves rivers of
white and unexpectedly stretches out spaces between words and letters, just
as Horton says. So even if you like full justification, do you want to spend
your precious time tweaking text for display effect? I'd stick with ragged
right and concentrate on other readability factors like word choice, color,
and writing style, things that are far easier to build in and control.

Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Featuring FrameMaker and the Clustar Method(TM)
"Better communication is a service to mankind."

----- Original Message -----
From: Holly Turner <hollyjoi -at- mindspring -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Sent: Saturday, December 25, 1999 1:27 PM
Subject: research on justified vs. ragged right

> Hello. I'm looking for research regarding the use of justification and
> ragged paragraphs in printed documentation. We've had an abundance of
> opinions in our group, and, honestly, I am just interested in studies that
> you might know about, not opinions or "I've heard that this is how you
> should do it, because..." (sorry!).
> Our techpubs group has come up with two references, one from Horton and
> One from Wheildon. I've listed them at the end of this e-mail. Do any of
> you
> know of any other studies that support either justified or ragged right?
> Thanks!
> Holly Turner
> Technical Writer, Internet Security Systems, Inc.
> http:\\
> Atlanta, GA

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