Alignment is one of the most important principles in graphic design.
It creates structure, organization, and visual harmony in a design.
Proper alignment makes a layout look crisp, orderly, and professional.
It brings unity to the page and guides the viewer's eye.
Here are some key things to know about alignment and how to use it effectively.
Types of Alignment
There are several main types of alignment in graphic design:
- Left align - All text or elements are lined up along the left margin or edge. This is the most common alignment for body text since it is easy to read in western languages that read left to right. Left aligned text has a clean, orderly look. Headlines or titles, however, should not be left aligned or it can look awkward.
- Right align - Text or elements are lined up along the right edge or margin. This is less commonly used for large blocks of text, but can sometimes be effective for small captions or pull quotes to create visual interest.
- Center align - Text and elements are centered on the page. This is commonly used for headlines and titles. It looks formal and symmetrical. Text is harder to read when centered, so only small amounts of text should be center aligned.
- Justify - Text is aligned along both the left and right margins. This makes paragraphs into solid blocks of text. Justified text has a formal, newspaper-like look. The spacing between words is increased to create even edges. Poor justification can lead to uneven word spacing, however.
- Use alignment consistently throughout a design. Don't center one headline then left align the next. Consistency creates order.
- Left align body text for easiest readability. Centered text is harder to read in large paragraphs. Right aligned text can work for small amounts of text.
- Center align headlines and titles. Centered headlines look formal and centered on the topic. Don't center body text.
- Only justify text when you have full control over spacing. Justification can look uneven if words and letters are spaced too far apart.
- Align images intentionally, don't just place them randomly. Line them up with other elements for a clean look.
Benefits of Proper Alignment
Proper alignment offers many benefits to a design:
- Creates visual organization and consistency. Aligned elements look crisp and ordered.
- Guides the viewer's eye through the design in a logical way. Aligned elements are easy to scan and navigate.
- Looks formal and polished. Careful alignment gives a professional appearance.
- Improves readability. Left aligned body text is easy to read. Centered text is scannable.
- Provides clarity and focus. Aligned headings clearly state the main idea.
- Allows grouping of related items. Common alignment shows connected elements.
- Adds interest with strategic variation. Though consistency is key, a right aligned pull quote, for example, can add visual appeal.
Proper alignment makes a huge difference in the aesthetics, readability, and professionalism of a design.
It brings order and coherence to the page and should be a top priority for all graphic designers.