Text Alignment

Most word processing programs give you the capability to change the text alignment of a block of text. This setting determines how the text is displayed horizontally on the page. The four primary types of text alignment include left aligned, right aligned, centered, and justified.

  1. Left Aligned - This setting is often referred to as "left justified," but is technically called "flush left." It is typically the default setting when you create a new document. Left aligned text begins each line along the left margin of the document. As you type, the first word that does not fit on a line is placed at the left margin on the next line. This results in a straight margin on the left and a "ragged edge" margin on the right.
  2. Right Aligned - This setting is also called "right justified," but is technically known as "flush right." It aligns the beginning of each line of text along the right margin of the document. As you type, the text expands to the left of the cursor. If you type more than one line, the next line will begin along the right margin. The result is a straight margin on the right and a "ragged edge" margin on the left. Right justification is commonly used to display the company name and address near the top of a business document.
  3. Centered - As the name implies, centered text is placed in the center of each line. As you type, the text expands equally to the left and right, leaving the same margin on both sides. When you start a new line, the cursor stays in the center, which is where the next line begins. Centered text is often used for document titles and may be appropriate for headers and footers as well.
  4. Justified - Justified text combines left and right aligned text. When a block of text is justified, each line fills the entire space from left to right, except for the paragraph indent and the last line of a paragraph. This is accomplished by adjusting the space between words and characters in each line so that the text fills 100% of the space. The result is a straight margin on each side of the page. Justified text is commonly used in newspapers and magazines and has become increasingly popular on the Web as well.

In most word processors, the text alignment options are typically located in the program's primary toolbar. They are often displayed as a row of four icons, which include the left, centered, right, and justified alignment options. These options may also be available in the program's Format menu. You can either select the appropriate setting before you begin typing, or select a block text and choose the text alignment to apply the new setting. If you want to apply a new text alignment to an entire document, use the Edit → Select All command, then select the alignment you want to use.

Updated February 11, 2011 by Per C.

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