Req: Reference on readability of centered vsleft-justified text

13 Aug 2007 - 3:27pm
7 years ago
3 replies
389 reads
Jack L. Moffett
2005

Paul,

Not exactly, but here is a reference to a website for a book that
does discuss text alignment.

http://www.papress.com/thinkingwithtype/text/alignment.htm

Best,
Jack

On Aug 13, 2007, at 3:54 PM, Paul Schreiber wrote:

> Does anyone have a reference showing that left-justified text is more
> readable than centered text?
>
> Something like:
> (a) an academic study or paper
> (b) a textbook
> (c) a well-known graphic design book
>
> I've been googling for a while and have found many pages that agree
> with me, but none citing sources. :/

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

You could design a process to catch
everything, but then you're overprocessing.
You kill creativity. You kill productivity.
By definition, a culture like ours that
drives innovation is managed chaos.

-Alex Lee
President, OXO International

Comments

14 Aug 2007 - 9:42pm
bminihan
2007

I agree with you and prefer right-aligned text when labels of highly
differing lengths.

Another issue with the rule below is that people don't necessarily "scan"
form labels the same way they scan text. In a long form with only a few
empty fields, I scan for the empty fields, then read the labels. In a
normal form I read the labels and look at the field one after the other. In
that case, being able to scan the labels isn't that useful.

- Bryan
http://www.bryanminihan.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Jeffrey
D. Gimzek
Sent: Tuesday, August 14, 2007 7:32 PM
To: IxDA Discuss
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Req: Reference on readability of centered
vsleft-justified text

On Aug 13, 2007, at 1:42 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

i am dealing with this one now... i occasionally prefer right aligned
when the label length varies enough to make a horizontal scan over to
the text field you need to enter data in difficult.

15 Aug 2007 - 4:36am
Caroline Jarrett
2007

From Jeffrey D. Gimzek listserv at jdgimzek.com

: i am dealing with this one now... i occasionally prefer right
aligned
: when the label length varies enough to make a horizontal scan over
to
: the text field you need to enter data in difficult.
:

As Andrei mentioned, context really makes a difference here.

And as Bryan pointed out, sometimes users scan the form first before
filling it in. But mostly, they look first for 'where to type', then
look left for the label that says 'what to type'.

Right-aligned labels are closer to the field and thus can reduce the
time for the eyes to jump to the label (the 'saccade'). Thus can be
considered to reduce reading time.

BUT.

Speed of saccade isn't everything. There are many other factors that
affect legibility, and even more than affect overall completion of the
form such as the complexity of the question, the willingness of the
user to reveal the answer, and the difficulty for the user of
retrieving the answer. The context, in other words.

Matteo Penzo did some eyetracking experiments on this:
http://www.uxmatters.com/MT/archives/000068.php
http://www.uxmatters.com/MT/archives/000107.php

and argues strongly in favour of labels above the boxes, or failing
that right-aligned.

I don't accept his conclusions, and argued in favour of a more
contextual approach:
http://www.usabilitynews.com/news/article3507.asp

Best,

Caroline Jarrett
caroline.jarrett at effortmark.co.uk
01525 370379

Effortmark Ltd
Usability - Forms - Content

15 Aug 2007 - 6:40pm
Janna Cameron
2004

For a slightly different take on the general question of where to put form
field labels - there's text expansion-related reasons to put labels above
fields. http://www.w3.org/2006/Talks/04-i18n-china.pdf p 72

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Paul
Schreiber
Sent: August 13, 2007 3:55 PM
To: discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Req: Reference on readability of centered
vsleft-justified text

Does anyone have a reference showing that left-justified text is more
readable than centered text?

Something like:
(a) an academic study or paper
(b) a textbook
(c) a well-known graphic design book

I've been googling for a while and have found many pages that agree
with me, but none citing sources. :/

Paul

shad 96c / uw cs 2001
fan of / ewb / eff / aclu / cc / mac os x / toyota prius / habs
/ friday night lights / v. mars / steve poltz / libbie schrader

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idealists who refuse to be dismissed."
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