Chapter 8. Aligning Your Type

CRITIQUING MY DESIGN FOR A PRODUCT CATALOG, my client referred to the justified type as "very masculine." I wasn't sure how to take it and I wasn't confident enough or quick-thinking enough to ask for clarification. Masculine type? Was that good or bad? Or was it just a neutral observation?

I'm not sure that I buy into the notion that text alignments can be assigned a gender, but the alignment of your text definitely gives your work a certain vibe and should serve the message of your type.

Alignment Types

There are several terms for different alignments in common usage. What InDesign refers to as Align left text is also known as ragged right, flush left, or (confusingly) as left justified. In InDesign terms, Left Justified means type where all lines of the paragraph are the same length. InDesign offers several other flavors of justified type: Right Justified, Center Justified, and Full Justified. The difference between them is the way the last line of the paragraph is handled. With the exception of Left Justified, these options have limited utility. When I refer to justified type, I mean type with the last line of the paragraph left aligned. "Ragged" can refer either to left, center, or right aligned type.

Figure 8.1. Types of Alignment.

[View full size image]

There are two new types of alignment on the Control palette in InDesign CS2. Align towards Spine aligns text on a left-hand page so that it is right aligned. If the same text flows onto a right-hand page, it becomes left aligned. Align away from Spine does the opposite: It aligns text on a left-hand page so that is left-aligned, while text on a right-hand page is right-aligned.

The Paragraph palette also has one additional indentation optionLast Line Right Indent. This can be useful for outdenting the last line of a paragraph, for example as in a table of contents or a price list.

Figure 8.2. Align towards Spine.

Figure 8.3. Last Line Right Indent.

[View full size image]

Alignment Keyboard Shortcuts


Cmd+Shift+L (Ctrl+Shift+L)


Cmd+Shift+C (Ctrl+Shift+C)


Cmd+Shift+R (Ctrl+Shift+R)


Cmd+Shift+J (Ctrl+Shift+J)

Justify All lines

Cmd+Shift+F (Ctrl+Shift+F)