Full Justification

Subject: Full Justification
From: "Daniel E. Wise" <dewise -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 17 May 1996 23:50:28 -0700

Some of what has been posted appears to be about half right. Rivers of
white do interfere with reader comprehension. Rivers of white are
caused by both the typesetting software and the avoidance of hyphens.
While some top-end systems put spaces between characters, which tends
to smooth out rivers of white, low-end systems, which most of us have,
do not. Therefore space goes between words. Voila! Rivers of white.
Lack of hyphenation is particularly a problem when the column is quite
narrow. In some cases, a line will be populated by only one or two
short words. They come out looking like this:
e n o u g h s a i d.

The first study of justification and readability I read was over 30
years ago. I don't think all that much has changed. We have gone from
hot metal, in which interletter spacing was added manually, to
phototype to computer type (laser or otherwise), but we still have the
same fundamental problem of making the type stretch to fill the
required space.

If you will notice, some journals, trade papers, and even daily
newspapers have abandoned full justification along with hyphenation.
Of course, some have not. I was reading PC Novice the other day and
found one of those infamous 2-word lines that looked like the one
above. I could not believe the editor let it ride, but then, who
proofreads anything anymore?

For Pamela, my advice would be to avoid full justification unless you
have a high-end system to do your typesetting.

As others have noted, type size, type face, line length also are
factors to be considered.

Dan Wise
dewise -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com

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