My new place of work insists on "justifying" all our outgoing reports and letters. I am used to "left-aligning". I cannot imagine a world where justifying is a good thing.

A quick survey of various paper-based texts:

  • printed novels are generally justified
  • letters seem to be mostly left-aligned. This was the result of my googling (image search) "letters from queen", "letters from presidents", "letters from congressman". Incidentally "letters from pope" seem to be justified.

In the design world there does not seem to be an agreed superior. The debate centres on readability vs aesthetics.

My question: Are there any studies comparing the two, in terms of readability, comprehension etc?

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Psychology.SE. You said "A quick survey of various paper-based texts:" Printed novels are generally justified from my experience but please can you link to examples of the letters you refer to? $\endgroup$ Dec 28 '21 at 9:49
  • $\begingroup$ Letters are often printed with a jagged right margin to give them the feel of being hand written, making them seem more personal. Similarly poetry, even when typeset, needs a personal writer-to-reader feeling. But other documents have aligned margins to make them feel like they were professionally typeset and printed for a larger audience. In that context, your office policy makes sense (unless it also applies to things like "meet me for lunch" e-mail). $\endgroup$ Dec 28 '21 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ @RayButterworth - If you can find sources to back your handwritten feeling vs professionally typeset claims, this would make a good answer which I would up vote. $\endgroup$ Dec 29 '21 at 4:39
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisRogers. Thanks, but it's based only on my own experience. That's why it's a comment and not an authoritative answer. $\endgroup$ Dec 29 '21 at 4:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.