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12 rules of alignment you need to design better

Do you ever wonder what type of alignment you should use in your fliers, Powerpoints, invitations, and more?

Or maybe you didn’t even know you could use different alignment for different purposes. Maybe all you’ve ever used is center alignment for headings, and left alignment for everything else ??‍♀️??‍♀️ But if that’s the case, you might be making some mistakes with alignment without realizing it.

No shade or shame — here’s a breakdown of the different types of alignment, with do’s and don’ts on when to use them:

What are the types?

Left alignment

when the text is aligned along the left side of the page

Center alignment

when the text is aligned to the center of the page

Right alignment

when the text is aligned along the right side of the page

Justified alignment

when spacing is automatically added between words to align text to both the left and right sides

Here are 12 rules to follow

✅ Do use left alignment for paragraphs

This is one of the most common uses for left alignment. This is because the reader’s eye goes back to the same point to start reading a new line, especially when the lines are long — like the full width of the page.

❌ Don’t use center alignment for a food menu, event agenda, bullets, or a list of items

Your viewer’s eye can’t easily scan down the list, and has to dart back and forth on every line.

✅ Do use right alignment for modern, creative designs

You’ll often find right alignment on modern business cards or invitations.

❌ Don’t use justified alignment for short lines of text or too narrow of columns

If you don’t have enough text, choose a different type of alignment to eliminate these weird gaps between your words.

✅ Do use center alignment for headlines and titles

This is one of the most common uses for it. It draws the viewer’s eye to the biggest and most important thing on the page — the thing you want the reader to see first.

❌ Don’t use left alignment within a symmetrical shape

If you’re placing text within a circle, for instance, it doesn’t make design sense for it to be left aligned.

✅ Do use right alignment for uniform lines of minimal text

You can easily read each line because everything is just one line of text. This is also an example of a modern, creative business card.

❌ Don’t use right alignment for multi-line text

It’s way too difficult to see where one light starts and another ends because in the English language, we read from left to right.

✅ Do use justified alignment for a clean, refined look when you have a lot of paragraphs

This is the most common use because it eliminates the jagged edge at the right side, if you only use left alignment.

You’ll often see this used in newspapers.

✅ Do use left alignment if you have a lot of headings and text

If you want someone to be able to easily scan your document for the information they’re looking for, then left alignment is your best bet.

✅ Do use center alignment for a call to action at the bottom of the page

If someone wants to know what to do next, they’re going to look at the bottom center of the page.

✅ Do use justified alignment for a directory or table of contents

If you have a list of items with a reference at the end of every line, justified alignment is great to keep everything aligned on both the left and the right side.

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