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Microsoft Typography | Web... | Specifying... | 5.4.6 'text-align' | 'text-align' comment next

5.4.6 'text-align' comment

Justified text on the Web - a good idea?

The CSS 'text-align: justified' rule isn't supported in Microsoft® Internet Explorer 3.0. Even if it were its use would be problematic. Text is justified in printed work by adding space between words and sometimes between individual characters (this is considered bad practice by typographers). This can lead to the dreaded 'rivers-of-white' effect where these horizontal spaces join up to form vertical shapes running up and down the page.

In print using DTP software you can get around this problem by using hyphenation to minimise the width of the spaces between words. However you can't do this online because browsers don't have in-built hyphenation dictionaries. In addition, because users have the ability to adjust the width of their browser the rivers of white problem will get worse.

The problem is a lot more noticeable when you're using a CRT monitor or other display that emits, rather than reflects, light; the rivers 'shine through' the text.

So next time someone asks you about justified text on the Web, just mention the shining rivers of white.

this page was last updated 30 June 1997
© 1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Terms of use.
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Microsoft Typography | Web... | Specifying... | 5.4.6 'text-align' | 'text-align' comment next