Manuscript Preparation, Copyediting, and Proofreading

Q. Should we left-align text or use justified alignment?

A. If you are preparing a manuscript for typesetting, use left alignment. Full justification is ugly and more difficult to read, because stretching the lines to full measure results in uneven spacing between words. Although end-of-line hyphenation could help prevent uneven spacing, you mustn’t use it in manuscript preparation because it leaves unclear which words should retain hyphens when text reflows during typesetting. In typeset documents, justified alignment looks best, but only if the type is small enough and the text column wide enough to accommodate it. If you’re typesetting in narrow columns, full justification can result in both stretched-out lines with big spaces between words and crammed lines with tiny word spaces. If typesetting with justification, therefore, be sure to allow the typesetters to hyphenate words at the ends of lines.