Can you imagine how difficult it would be to find your car in a crowded parking lot if everyone ignored the parking lot stripes and parked in every which direction and angle? Imagine trying to get out of there! Alignment brings order to chaos, in a parking lot and on a piece of paper. How you align type and graphics on a page and in relation to each other can make your layout easier or more difficult to read, foster familiarity, or bring excitement to a stale design.
In the above (admittedly exaggerated) layout, left, right, and center text alignments and no overall alignment of text and graphic elements creates a chaotic page. If any two elements are aligned, it's purely accidental. No one alignment is the best. In the next few pages explore examples of edge alignment (left and right), center alignment, complex grid alignment, visual alignment, and purposeful but effective breaking of alignment.