At Reform we pride ourselves on producing not only great ideas, but also ideas that are executed beautifully. One of the ways to ensure this happens is through carefully considered typography.

One of the things we see many people getting wrong is justified text: something that is quite an art in itself.
A beautifully crafted piece of justified text not only looks great, but also gives the reader a better experience.

Please examine these two examples of justified text and judge for yourself:

We are hoping that you can see a distinct difference between example one, which has had no consideration, and example two, which has had the level of detail you should expect to see in a well-crafted piece of justified text.

What do we do at Reform to achieve this?

There are some simple rules which indicate whether a block of copy can be justified. One of which is the amount of words or characters per line. We would recommend you don’t try and justify text that is less than 10 words per line, as it becomes difficult to avoid the rivers and gaps which you can see below in example one.

A Step-by-Step guide.

1. Decide what character spacing (tracking) looks good for the font you are using. You are trying to achieve text that doesn’t have touching characters and has a little room around each character. This helps when altering the tracking later.

2. If you have selected a tracking amount of say 30

3. (if using InDesign software) make sure that all your text is set on 30 tracking, and also set the horizontal scaling to 100%. This will be known as your average setting.

4. Range the text left.

Next you will ‘pull’ and ‘push’ your lines of text to close the gap between the last word and the right-hand margin or to bring up a word from the next line to fill the gap. The aim is to achieve as little space between the last character of the line and the right margin of your text box.

5. To push your line, select the whole line and then increase, firstly, the tracking but by no more than 20 units if using InDesign. If there is still a gap between your last character and the right margin of your text box, you may increase the horizontal scaling of the whole line, but no more than 2%

6. To pull your line, select the whole line plus the first word on the next line you would like to take up and then decrease, firstly, the tracking, but by no more than 20 units if using InDesign. If the word hasn’t come up then you may decrease the horizontal scaling of the whole line, but no more then 2%

7. When you have worked each line of the paragraph and are happy then you may justify the text as the last stage

We recommend that you work on one paragraph at a time. Some paragraphs will be easy, some not so easy. It is not unusual to work a paragraph more than once before you are happy with it.

The above may sound like a long process and it isn’t for the faint of heart, but very much worth it and produces justified text you can be proud of.

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