Alignment is

  • a highly prized element of design.
  • a social, cultural, historical construct

Alignment refers to the positioning of design elements in a text. For example, paragraphs, tables, and illustrations can be left, center, or right-justified.

People crave alignment. Sorting things in some sort of order and alignment helps organize and interpret information. In general, people have trouble interpreting design elements when they are placed helter skelter. Keeping items all parallel—all laid out the same way—facilitates reading and focus. Still, at times people will break alignment in order to create a focus:

In Line
In Line
Not Aligned
In Line
In Line

Alignment is a social, cultural, historical construct. For instance, in the U.S. it is commonplace to left justify alphabetical texts as well as tables and pictures. Alternatively, in parts of the Arabic world and Israel, it is commonplace to right justify texts.

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