1. Technology
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Use Centered Text Sparingly

Rules of Desktop Publishing for Text Alignment


Save centered alignment for special occa

Save centered alignment for special occasions.

There is nothing inherently wrong with centered text. As with ragged right or fully-justified text alignment, what works for one design might be totally inappropriate for another layout. There are simply fewer situations where centered text is appropriate. When in doubt, don't center it.

As with all layouts, alignment depends on the purpose of the piece, the audience and its expectations, the fonts, the margins and white space, and other elements on the page. The most appropriate choice is the alignment that works for that particular design.


About Centered Text

  • Lends a formal appearance to text, which is why it is often used in formal wedding invitations, certificates, and on plaques.


  • Generally harder to read long lines and multiple paragraphs of centered text.


  • Works best with fairly short lines and extra leading (space between lines of text).


  • Centered headlines work best over body text that is fully-justified.



Centered text is harder to read because the starting position of each line changes, forcing the reader to work harder to find where each line begins to continue reading. For large blocks of text, try to avoid centered text. Numbered and bullet lists should almost always be left-aligned as well to aid in quickly scanning the list. Save centering for invitations, greeting cards, and certificates.

The Bottom Line: There is no right or wrong way to align text. Use the alignment that makes the most sense for the design and that effectively communicates your message. However, for most body copy situations, avoid centered text.

"Right and wrong do not exist in graphic design. There is only effective and non-effective communication."
— Peter Bilak - Illegibility


The Desktop Document > Text Phase > Text Composition > Placement/Alignment


Pick Your Path to Desktop Publishing
Get Started: Basic Guidelines and Requirements for Desktop Publishing
Choose Software: Desktop Publishing and Design Software
Tips & Tutorials: How to Do Desktop Publishing
Training, Education, Jobs: Careers in Desktop Publishing
In the Classroom: Back to School With Desktop Publishing
Make Something: Things to Make Using Desktop Publishing
Use Templates: Templates for Print and Web Publishing

Readers Respond: Your #1 Rule or Best Practice for Page Layout

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.