Justification (Typesetting and Composition)

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

start of a book in a typewriter

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In typesetting and printing, the process or result of spacing text so that the lines come out even at the margins.

The lines of text on this page are left-justified—that is, the text is lined up evenly on the left side of the page but not on the right (which is called ragged right). As a general rule, use left justification when preparing essays, reports, and research papers.

Pronunciation: jus-te-feh-KAY-shen

Examples and Observations

"Research papers follow a standard presentation format...Do not right-justify (align) your paper. The right margins should be ragged. Your computer will automatically justify your left margin."
(Laurie Rozakis, Schaum's Quick Guide to Writing Great Research Papers. McGraw-Hill, 2007)

Manuscript Guidelines (Chicago Style)

"To avoid the appearance of inconsistent spacing between words and sentences, all text in a manuscript should be presented flush left (ragged right)--that is, lines should not be 'justified' to the right margin. To leave enough room for handwritten queries, margins of at least one inch should appear on all four sides of the hard copy." (The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. The University of Chicago Press, 2010)

Full Justification

"Left-justified margins are generally easier to read than full-justified margins that can produce irregular spaces between words and unwanted blocks of text. However, because left-justified (ragged-right) margins look informal, full-justified text is more appropriate for publications aimed at a broad readership that expects a more formal, polished appearance. Further, full justification is often useful with multiple-column formats because the spaces between the columns (called alleys) need the definition that full justification provides." (Gerald J. Alred, Charles T. Brusaw, and Walter E. Oliu, The Business Writer's Handbook, 7th ed. Macmillan, 2003)

Justification on Resumes

"Do not set full justification on an ASCII resume. Instead, left justify all lines so the right margin is ragged." (Pat Criscito, How to Write Better Résumés and Cover Letters. Barron's Educational Series, 2008)

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Your Citation
Nordquist, Richard. "Justification (Typesetting and Composition)." ThoughtCo, Aug. 29, 2020, thoughtco.com/justification-typesetting-and-composition-1691208. Nordquist, Richard. (2020, August 29). Justification (Typesetting and Composition). Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/justification-typesetting-and-composition-1691208 Nordquist, Richard. "Justification (Typesetting and Composition)." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/justification-typesetting-and-composition-1691208 (accessed March 22, 2023).