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Ebook Publishing > Ragged right?

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim Bowering (arjaybe) | 86 comments I want to see if there is a consensus. When formatting your ebooks, do you use full justification or left justification (ragged right?) When reading ebooks, which do you prefer?


message 2: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 694 comments Mod
Not sure for other e-readers but Kindle format supports automatic hyphenation which means there should be no ragged side if it's done properly.


message 3: by P.D. (new)

P.D. Workman (pdworkman) Print - full justification

ebooks - up to the ebook reader/platform


message 4: by Jim (new)

Jim Bowering (arjaybe) | 86 comments I have had people tell me that they don't like ragged right because it doesn't look "professional," and others tell me that they don't like full justification because of the way things sometimes get stretched out. That's why I'm looking for a consensus.

I agree that print should be full. It's got enough room for it to work well. I want to know which most people choose when formatting their ebooks.


message 5: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 694 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "they don't like full justification because of the way things sometimes get stretched out."

Which is why Kindle supports automatic hyphenation, which should remove the stretching. Of course, since it's done automatically, there might be issues with splitting of custom words such as character names.


message 6: by P.D. (new)

P.D. Workman (pdworkman) Jim wrote: I want to know which most people choose when formatting their ebooks."

It really isn't up to the person formatting it. The platform either enforces a certain justification (as Kindle forced full justification up to 2015) or it allows both and the person who is reading it can toggle between to select the justification they prefer.

ebooks should, as much as possible, be entirely reflowable text, with the reader able to choose the font, font size, linespacing, justification, background, etc. that works best for their reading experience.


message 7: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments P.D. wrote: "...ebooks should, as much as possible, be entirely reflowable text, with the reader able to choose the font, font size, linespacing, justification, background, etc. that works best for their reading experience."

Precisely. eBooks are just modified web browsers after all. We have to think of them as a totally different medium than printed books. They require their own formatting rules.

That being said I'm pretty sure full justification is still the standard for printed books.


message 8: by B.A. (new)

B.A. A. Mealer | 843 comments I format my books for print, which means fully justified. They seem to come out okay in ebooks. Then again, I format using MS word with all the headings and everything via the preset format that I modify for my book. I use the 'accepted' fonts for print and ebooks all in 12 pt.

Because I have a Windows PC, I don't have access to Vellum without paying per use, so I got a couple of generic templates from Joel Friedlander and use them to format if I don't want to fool with the page numbers, the front and back matter, etc. It takes a lot of the hassle out of formatting in MS word. I do check to make sure everything is where it should be in the headers, the titles, the footers, etc. The books looked good on the preview.

As an avid reader, I don't like the jagged right and never have. From what I've experienced, justified is good, but you need someone to format it or use a formatted template (hence my getting the template from Friedlander on sale) which means I don't have to send it out to get it the way I want it to look.

If you want to do it for free, Draft2Digital has around 10 templates that will do it for you. They also have decent distribution including to libraries if that helps.


message 9: by Jim (new)

Jim Bowering (arjaybe) | 86 comments I can use Calibre to choose left-justified or full. Last book I used left. From what people have said here, next one I'll use full. I don't mind either way for my own reading preference. That's why I need external advice.


message 10: by Eldon, Lost on the road to Mordor (new)

Eldon Farrell | 367 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "I can use Calibre to choose left-justified or full. Last book I used left. From what people have said here, next one I'll use full. I don't mind either way for my own reading preference. That's why..."

I've done both and read both. Honestly, as an ebook reader I prefer ragged right. It's not easy to format that way on a kindle as Amazon does try to force justification down your throat. But, on a kindle too often full justified looks odd. Too many long words or short words and you will get those rivers of white space.

It is of course, different for every reader though.


message 11: by Jim (new)

Jim Bowering (arjaybe) | 86 comments I wonder if there's a way to tell the ebook to adopt the ereader's preference. To format it to be neutral, I mean. Do ereaders default to one or the other?


message 12: by Eldon, Lost on the road to Mordor (new)

Eldon Farrell | 367 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "I wonder if there's a way to tell the ebook to adopt the ereader's preference. To format it to be neutral, I mean. Do ereaders default to one or the other?"

My experience is limited to Kindle's. Perhaps someone can speak to the others. With Amazon though, they tell you justified is the correct way. If you want it different, you need to work around their default.


message 13: by Jim (new)

Jim Bowering (arjaybe) | 86 comments A little googling and the ebook formatting guides are almost all in favor of left justified, ragged right. I wonder why Amazon disagrees.


message 14: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 694 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "I wonder why Amazon disagrees."

Aren't print books done in full justification with hyphenation as well? So this would make them the same? Of course, there's the problem with how automatic hyphenation approaches made-up words (and character names) which can be hit or miss.


message 15: by Junkomi (new)

Junkomi Eno | 28 comments As a typographer and formatter I can say that in print you can have left aligned text or justified text. Just because text is justified does not mean it is inherently more professional. However, with justified text hyphenation should be set with care using soft hyphens or small adjusting of the tracking.

In e-Books this is another matter. Hyphenation is rather a hit or miss based on epub2 or epub3 format. Hyphenation is available in some e-readers and some it destroys the hyphenation or worse yet adds the soft hyphens without out breaking the lines.

Frankly speaking until there is better hyphenation support for e-books, justified text should generally be avoided. Of course, this leaves a bit of a problem with the right rag of text. The problem is there is not to much to do about it without the aid of a JavaScript file like type.js or something like it. While it is possible to elimate widows by using a non-breaking space between the last word and the following, for long text this becomes annoying.

All in all the general rule stands: Justified text with hyphenation turned on; on the web, left-align unless proper hyphenation can be used then justified text may be used.

In answer to the question: In print I am okay with left aligned text or justified so long as it is properly tracked and hyphenated. With e-Books I like left aligned as this ensures the typography is not complete shit. Honestly, the biggest thing that ruins e-books for me is poor typography such as having the line-height be set at 100% or the use of block paragraphs and first-line indents at the same time. Setting an e-book in the bastard Arial typeface is also another way to destroy the reading experience.


message 16: by Eldon, Lost on the road to Mordor (new)

Eldon Farrell | 367 comments Mod
Junkomi wrote: "As a typographer and formatter I can say that in print you can have left aligned text or justified text. Just because text is justified does not mean it is inherently more professional. However, wi..."

Well said Junkomi :)


message 17: by Jim (new)

Jim Bowering (arjaybe) | 86 comments Junkomi wrote: "As a typographer and formatter I can say that in print you can have left aligned text or justified text. Just because text is justified does not mean it is inherently more professional ...

With e-Books I like left aligned as this ensures the typography is not complete shit"


Okay. Back to my first inclination -- left justified, ragged right. This concurs with most of the guides I found, and it just feels better to me. Thank you, Junkomi. And thanks to everyone who pitched in.


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