Brian Nelson
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Brian Nelson

Three Things to Know About Alignment

Helpful points I’ve learned over time

If there is one truth that I’ve learned it’s that I’m always learning. Alignment is something I feel like I understand until I look back at my old work and realise I had no idea what I’m doing. Hopefully this is proof of what I previously stated “I’m always learning”. In my short experience these are three things I think are important to know to make your alignment better.

Know Alignment Options for Type

Knowing alignment types for text and when to use them helps one not make horribly rookie mistakes. As far I know you almost always want to use left alignment. This is mostly because modern western languages are written left to right and top to bottom. The natural guide this gives down the left side of the paragraphs helps guide reading and gives a natural guide for design.

Center, justified, and right alignments have there place but should be used sparingly . Center justified being the next most common style should only really be used for Titles and subtitles. In every other situation it is almost always the wise choice to use just left alignment as generally readability should be your top priority.

Using guides

Using grids and guides has been life changing for me. Arranging guides in to a working columns and trophs really helps avoid things that just don’t look right. The uniformity and structure it give helps give your work a more natural uniformity that guides users to what is most important in your design.

Effectively using a column grid has helped me more than anything to attain more effect alignment in any form of design.

Use Your Alignment Tools

If you’re still dragging and nudging things to get them aligned it’s time to learn those alignment tools. The alignment tools allow you to align things vertically and horizontally based on the artboard, a key object or a selection. This tool really changed my life and I think there are still a surprising amount of people that don’t know about this simple tool.


On a simple level, these things are good to know if you are trying to work on you alignment skills. Things get more complicated and dependent as you get into more complicated lines and aesthetic alignment vs. marginal alignment. However these are good building blocks to know when working with alignment.

Brian Nelson is a student in the Digital Media program at Utah Valley University, Orem Utah, studying Web & App Development. The following article relates to a project that involved using Adobe Illustrator and using the Alignment tools to improve design in the DGM 2250 Course and representative of the skills learned.



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