Whatever happened to …

… those old formatting things?

It was a couple of week ago in a post by Gerry Smith that I saw “it”.  I didn’t know what “it” was at the time but “it’ just kept nagging me.  He’s since edited the page but at the time I grabbed a screen capture for my TWIOE post, it looked like this.

Can you see “it”?

I felt like a dummy because I didn’t clue in when I saw it.  He had full justified the text.  You’ll notice how the left margins and the right margins all line up perfectly and there’s a hyphenation in the word “environments”.

That took me back to the advent of word processors.  It was so easy to do.  Everyone did it.  You typed your text and, with one click, the magic happens. You turn your copy into the same full justification that is found in newspapers.  It was the finishing touch that said “I’m really published”.

Then, as I tend to do, I wonder how he did it.  I can’t ever remember full justification in a blog editor. All I could see in the WordPress editor were left, centre, and right justification.

Screenshot 2018-08-02 at 11.10.23

I came up with all kinds of scenarios.

  • He’s not using WordPress
  • He’s blogging in a word processor and copy/pasting the text
  • He’s using some advanced HTML or CSS to make it happen

Then, I looked at the editor and the three dots that toggle advanced settings.  There it was!  It was just sitting there all by itself on the second line.

Screenshot 2018-08-02 at 11.11.30

And it works beautifully.

Over the next while, I kept an eye on the blogs that I read and couldn’t find any that had used full justification.  The closest I could find were some PDF files of text.

This also got me thinking of other formatting things that were crucial when word processing and the output was to paper.  I started to think about the TAB key.  Remember in typing, you’d set a tab five spaces in from the left margin.  Every paragraph or document had tabs all over the place.  You don’t see that any more either.  In fact, the actual TAB key on the keyboard was taken on a new role and that is to jump to the next clickable option.

Your thoughts for a Sunday…

  • do any of the blogs that you read use full justification?
  • in what places these days do you see full justification?
  • compare your favourite newspaper online versus the printed copy.  (I know; you might have to go to the variety store to check)  Why is the printed copy fully justified but the electronic version isn’t?
  • Not up for walking to the store?  Check out the Newseum front pages
  • has the concept of “Publish” changed?
  • check your editor.  Yes, you can move the margin but it’s not like the traditional tab on the first line…it moves the entire paragraph.  In WordPress, it’s called the “indent”
  • is there even a way to tab the first first line of a paragragh?  (short of cheating and inserting a bunch of spaces)

I’d be most interested in your thoughts on this.  Please add them below via comment.  The post is part of a regular Sunday series.  You can read the past posts here.

Thanks, Gerry, for the inspiration for this post.  I love it when I’m forced to do some thinking and research.

4 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. I actually kind of love full justification, and yet, I totally missed this in Gerry’s blog until you mentioned it on the radio. Any time that I write notes in Word, I always use full justification. I think it has a cleaner look when all of the margins line up. I wonder if anyone else uses it. Now the big question: was this full justification intentional? Only Gerry can answer this question. 🙂



  2. I suppose it would be his choice. I thank him for doing it and getting me started along this line of thinking anyway. I have to smile about this with respect to the discussion of two spaces after a period. I read an algorithm for full justification once and a “safe” place for padding text with spaces is after a period. So, it’s not unusual to see 2 or more spaces after a period in fully justified text.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Doug, I do wonder though if this was accidental. Sometimes there’s a default justification or you click on an option accidentally. Gerry’s whole post wasn’t full-justified, which makes me wonder. It’s definitely a neat connection to the “spaces after a period” conversation. The funny thing is that as much as I like fully justified text, I don’t like when there’s a big space in the middle of a line of text or the font seems really stretched out. Then I go back to left-justified. I guess I have my own little issues. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes its true you don’t see justification. Yet many of my papers where never justified and I never really did it for my blog. Thou I did use it every time i worked at a magazine or when i did the school newsletter. In WordPress i like using the old editing page and they do not have it as one of their options but there is a hot key for it. Its CRTL+ALT+J.


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