What Text Alignment Do I Use and Why?

Ebook text alignment: Justified vs Left-Aligned (Or Ragged Right). The showdown of the century… Okay, that was dramatic, but that’s how it feels when you start reading some of the hot debates on this topic from around the interwebs. Yes, you read that right. People fight over this and other elements of formatting. Sometimes it can get downright nasty.

When you’re looking up how to format your ebook for the first time, this text alignment is one of those topics you’ll find that people feel passionately about. Just remember that at the end of the day, there is no standard, not when it comes to digital books. Looking at the print format as a standard for ebook is like looking at a newspaper to reference how a blog post should be formatted. Different mediums require their own set of standards and, unfortunately, digital books do not have that. Anyone can format an ebook in anyway that they please. It’s as simple as putting words and pictures into a Word doc and uploading it to KDP. Will the end result look good? It depends, but the point is the digital formatting world is a wild west.

In regards to main body text alignment, Justified is what you’ll find in the majority of print books. But forcing this type of text alignment on ebooks is debatable due to aesthetics. Ebook readers allow for individuals to change font size, color, type, and even text alignment (all features vary depending on the reader device and app). What this means is that no matter what you do, unless you make a static pdf (which is not recommended), you have very little control over how a reader will “format” your ebook. All you can do is make sure that the foundation of the ebook is formatted correctly so that they have the ability to customize their reading experience.

My recommendation: Leave ebook text alignment alone. Don’t force it to be left aligned or justified. Kindles will automatically justify your text. And if your reader gets your book on the nook app, they’ll have the option to left-aligned the text if that’s what they want. Forcing an alignment will simply frustrate the end user. If you absolutely must have it one way or the other, then go ahead and do it — you’ve already made up your mind in regards to this topic. But I’m in the camp of allowing readers the freedom to format the book the way they want to read it.

Static text belongs to PDFs and Images.


Picture Credit: James Tarbotton (Unsplash via Pixabay)

2 thoughts on “What Text Alignment Do I Use and Why?”

  1. writingcubby says:

    Justified looks better for me. But ragged right is normal now because of reading things online.

    1. Nica Curt says:

      Agreed. Then again…I’m not a picky text alignment person.

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