Centered on the Web Revisited

A couple years ago, I wrote about the problems and pitfalls associated with centered text on websites and blogs, so if you're a regular reader, you already know how I feel.

If you're new, you may not, so here's my bottom-line recommendation: Don't do it.

Here's why. 

English is a left-to-right language so readers' eyes naturally gravitate to the left margin. Plus, modern readers are impatient. They tend to scan rather than read each word and centered text makes scanning especially challenging.

I'm revisiting this issue, because I just left a site that used left-aligned copy for everything except a very long series of step-by-step instructions. In other words, they made the most important part of the content the most difficult to read. I knew I could find the information I needed elsewhere, so I quickly departed.

There are occasional circumstances where centered text is tolerable, but they are few and far between. If you simply can't resist the urge, use it sparingly to:
  • Share a very short external quote.
  • Highlight a short pull quote from your own copy.
  • Include a short title or tagline for an image or graphic.
  • Provide a short description or phrase.

That's it. In crowded online venues, you want to stand out for all the right reasons. Quite simply, centered text isn't one of them.

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