The end of the line
A survey of unjustified typography
This article is about encounters between electronic publishing and typography, seen through the lens of one issue: decisions about ending lines in typeset text. Computer scientists working in electronic publishing have long pressed typographers to explain the thinking behind their practice. But craft knowledge, represented by typographers, has so far largely remained mute.
An apparently minor issue in typographic decision-making -whether to typeset text in justified or unjustified mode -reveals some of the situated reasoning which informs reflective design practice. The following questions are surveyed: What are the characteristics of unjustified setting? For what purpose is it used? How effective is it? How is it done in practice? Why has it been a subject of argument among typographers? Examining these questions tells something about the intricacy of typographic decision-making, and is a forcible reminder of the materiality of designing.