I love you, but stop centering everything

July 9, 2020
2
Minute Read

So, I want to get something off my chest. It’s been bugging me for years, but I think it’s time. And please know, I come from a place of love when I say this, but...

Stop centering large paragraphs.

There I said it. *Sigh* it feels good to finally get it out. It’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

Centered text is overused and doesn’t help anyone — the author or the reader. Why? Because it’s difficult to read. 

We spend so much time making sure our messaging is focused and concise, we forget about how it’s presented. By formatting a document or email, are we informing our users, and getting our point across? Or are we making their lives difficult and making them check-out? If you’re going to spend so much time making sure your words are on point, you also have to make sure people can read it. Am I right? 

When we read our eyes move in a Z-pattern, and when text is centered, it’s difficult for us to find the beginning of the next line. That’s where our handy-dandy left alignment comes in. “Lefty” is our “visual anchor” and helps our eyes find where the next line starts. 

There are rules to centering text.

PracticalTypography.com best put it:

An Ode to Centered Text
Centered text is acceptable when used for short phrases or titles,
like the name on your business cards or letterhead.
Or in documents, you can center major section headings
like “Introduction” and “Table of Contents”.
But if you enjoy centering text, then
you should learn to use the
hard line break
so your lines start
in sensible
places.
OK?

And I totally understand, you want to make your blog post or email different and dynamic. But there are other ways to achieve that without compromising the readability of your work.

Alternatives to Centering

  1. Use centered text sparingly -
    Like what Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Use centered text with only short phrases or titles.
  2. Play with font sizes -
    This will allow you to create a visual hierarchy of information and make your pages more dynamic. If you have established Header 1, Header 2, or Header 3 styles for your blog or newsletters, use it!
  3. Play with color -
    Use your brand colors to your advantage! But remember to use colors that are accessible for all users and are high in contrast. So, don’t use a yellow font on a white background. :)
  4. Use pull quotes or call outs -
    This is another way to make your “boring” block of text more dynamic and visually pleasing.
  5. Don’t forget your old buddy, the Bold button -
    This. Will. Pack. A. Little. Punch. To. Your. Point.  
So the next time you’re writing a
blog post or email, don’t center everything. Remember, the way
you present your
work is just as important as your
message.
Because let’s be real, we don’t want to make things harder for our users or clients.
We want to make it effortless and easy
for them.