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View Poll Results: Justified text in e-books?
Prefer not Justified (left aligned only) 19 42.22%
Prefer Justified (full justification) 21 46.67%
Don't care 5 11.11%
Voters: 45. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 02-02-2013, 08:01 PM   #1
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To Justify or not to Justify?

I saw rhadin's note on another thread (see here), that expresses a dissatisfaction with full-justification of text in e-books, because it can cause distracting word-spacing, particularly at large font sizes. I thought the subject was worthy of a thread of its own, and maybe even a poll (I've never done one before, so I hope it comes out okay).

The Smashwords style-guide recommends against full-justification, but then says you can try it and see what you prefer. The Amazon instructions for "Building your Book for Kindle", doesn't appear to mention it at all.

When constructing my first e-book I took a look around. While there were many e-books that didn't use fully justified text, it appeared to me that the majority did (not that I did a statistical analysis). I tried out full justification in my own e-book and viewed it in the kindle previewer and my own e-reader and decided that at practical font sizes it didn't look too bad, so I implemented full-justification. I can't say for certain whether my preference for justified text comes from my long history of paper books or not, but to me it just looked neater, somehow easier on the eye.

Of course the ideal would be if it was easy for the reader to choose their own preference (which may well change with the selected font size). Do any e-readers allow this?
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:14 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmw View Post
IOf course the ideal would be if it was easy for the reader to choose their own preference (which may well change with the selected font size). Do any e-readers allow this?
Yes, some ebook readers (CyBook is the one I know about) allow selection of the justification option, so long as it hasn't been hard-coded in the HTML.
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:23 PM   #3
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Nothing to see here. This is a duplicate thread. Please move along.

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=203751
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:34 PM   #4
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We had a pretty good discussion of the topic in this thread:Text alignment in Sigil .

In brief summary, full justification was a source of pride in the typesetters guild. It took a lot of effort, and skill, to set the spacing on each line to fully fill the page. Any document that did not display this full justification was considered "substandard", "bad form", "second rate". That has been what people have grown up seeing when all the pBooks (books, textbooks, news articles, etc.) were printed that way.

The current computer age is used to seeing webpages, blogs, forums, chat, tweets, school reports/papers etc. all left aligned. Since "full justified" can be achieved through the click of a button - or at least a form of full justification (they only put spaces between the words, not space the words themselves) - there really isn't an inherent pride in the work anymore. It is just what people (usually older ones like me) are used to seeing.

Authors, and some eBook creators, in their attempt to reproduce a paper book on the screen will always justify their text.

I personally prefer left justification. I don't like the weirdly spaced words that can pop up in the flow of text with full justification. "At practical font sizes" full justification may not look too bad, but I would say almost all devices allow the reader to change the font....then your book MAY look bad. Left justification avoids that possibility.

Having said all that. Most devices/apps that I'm aware of let the reader choose the justification. There ARE some devices that do NOT override any publisher settings, so what you set COULD be what the reader is stuck with.

If you set full justification, or leave it unspecified (some devices default to full) it COULD end up making those erratic spacings appear. If you set left justification it COULD force readers to look at the "jaggies" on the right. Pick your poison...

Cheers!
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:27 PM   #5
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Whoops! Sorry everyone. I searched this subform before posting but forgot to check more widely. My apologies to JSWolf in particular. (Although you did forget the "Don't care option" )

Moderators. Any preferences on how to handle this?

I'm happy for you delete this thread if pdurrant and Turtle91 doesn't mind losing their posts.

ETA: Or we could consider this a "what writers prefer to use" version of the more general thread.

Last edited by gmw; 02-02-2013 at 09:29 PM.
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:45 PM   #6
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Un-jusified. I'm not a fan of having to justify my text and then try turning on hypenation and praying it works. Hyphenation is evil anyway.

As for this being a duplicate thread, I dunno about anyone else but I tend to hang out here more than ebook general and don't remember seeing the other one.
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:58 PM   #7
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I don't mind having this one here as well. The one I linked was more of an ePub creators forum rather than an authors section...besides, the ePubers create whatever the author requires, so it's the authors who need to know the details to make a good decision.
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:00 PM   #8
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I do not like full justification in any medium but its a minor detail, not enough that will impact my buying or enjoyment of a book.
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmw View Post
Whoops! Sorry everyone. I searched this subform before posting but forgot to check more widely. My apologies to JSWolf in particular. (Although you did forget the "Don't care option" )
Actually, I didn't forget. The reason was to get precise numbers and don't care would have skewed the numbers.
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:49 PM   #10
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Wouldn't those who don't care tend not to vote...thus skewing the numbers in a way that you couldn't account for??!! lol ~ Just teasing.
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:06 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by teh603 View Post
Un-jusified. I'm not a fan of having to justify my text and then try turning on hypenation and praying it works. Hyphenation is evil anyway.

As for this being a duplicate thread, I dunno about anyone else but I tend to hang out here more than ebook general and don't remember seeing the other one.
Hyphenation, when done carefully, can be an effective way to make justification work more smoothly, but you do have to be wary of using the defaults.

ETA: I meant to say also: I tend to hang out here most too (and a few other selected threads), if I start to wander the other subforums too much I lose half-a-day and don't get anything else done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VydorScope View Post
I do not like full justification in any medium but its a minor detail, not enough that will impact my buying or enjoyment of a book.
This response surprised me. Your first book appears to be fully justified, was that your choice or something that happened during the conversion process?

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Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
Actually, I didn't forget. The reason was to get precise numbers and don't care would have skewed the numbers.
I think they call that asking a loaded question. It's like those phone surveys they do. If you only ask for those responses you want to hear, you get to ignore those ones you don't want by pretending they don't exist. I see "Don't care" as a fully legitimate and distinct response to the question of text justification.

Last edited by gmw; 02-02-2013 at 11:09 PM.
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:12 PM   #12
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I think they call that asking a loaded question. It's like those phone surveys they do. If you only ask for those responses you want to hear, you get to ignore those ones you don't want by pretending they don't exist. I see "Don't care" as a fully legitimate and distinct response to the question of text justification.
It's not loaded. The issue was posed in another thread about how to justify an eBook. With an eBook, there is no "I don't care" option. You have left or full. So the poll I set up is to match the eBook. It has to be one or the other.
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:25 PM   #13
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This response surprised me. Your first book appears to be fully justified, was that your choice or something that happened during the conversion process?

My source documents that I send out (EPUB, MOBI, and DOC) are not full justified nor do they look justified on my Nook Color. Could something have happened in any of the gazillion possible combinations of conversions and e-readers along the way? Yeah, probably.

Beyond that... I dunno!
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:53 PM   #14
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It's not loaded. The issue was posed in another thread about how to justify an eBook. With an eBook, there is no "I don't care" option. You have left or full. So the poll I set up is to match the eBook. It has to be one or the other.
There is no "don't care" when making an ebook, but there is when reading. "Don't care" means a lack of interest in changing whatever justification settings were applied by the author, publisher or software.

----
I often prefer ragged-right text because I switch between font sizes regularly; when I'm reading in dim light or when I'm tired, I increase the font size. I would prefer justified text if the software support for it were better--if ebooks dealt well with hyphenation, if they could space out letters in addition to adding space between words. We might see those features in the future, but I'm not holding my breath.

When I make PDFs to fit a 6" reader, I justify the text because it's intended to be read as designed. When I make epubs for myself, I usually justify the text because I like the way it looks on the computer screen; the Sony I read with doesn't support justified epubs.
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Old 02-03-2013, 12:10 AM   #15
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In general, I prefer full justification wherever possible. But maybe that's due to mild OCD and perfectionists tendencies that lend me to prefer symmetry over non-symmetry.
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