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Justified type on the ... web WebDesign & Review Tips & Tricks

“What is the HTML tag for justified text? My client wants it.”

Easy: As far as we know, there is not an "official" tag yet. CERN is working on an alignment tag

<P ALIGN="justify"> 

for justified text but it's not getting a lot of respect even under HTML 4 specifications. Its use is not recommended.

Now, ask yourself if you really want to justify the text.

  1. Justified text looks formal
  2. Justified text looks like work to read
  3. Justified text forces the letter forms and spacing to conform to a given character count. On the web there are no parameters (yet) for character spacing or word spacing. There would most likely be big holes all through the text
  4. It "reads" in the newspaper but is difficult to read on a monitor

If someone's holding a gun to your head, then about the best way is using the Preformatted

<pre> copy to be preformatted </pre> 

tags. With those, the browser calls the systems' monospaced font. To use this, you have to carefully massage the type to fit, adding extra spaces in places, and lots of hyphenation.

Then, if the reader has the default monospaced font set to 10 point Courier, you're dead. The results turn out looking like the back-side of the insurance forms... very ugly. Try it, I think you will agree, and hopefully your client will too!

[Note: if you peek at the code of the page you can see "preformatted" type in action!]

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