Rag or justified?

rag or justified? These are preliminary design pages for a new book about the art of Bali. The font is Garamond Premier Pro. The image is a cool piece by I Ketut Ngendon (1903–1948) called Goodbye and Good Luck to Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, 1938 (Batuan, Bali. Ink on paper. Mary Catherine Bateson).

The pages are the same, except that in one spread the main text block is ragged and in the other it is justified. I’m curious which version people prefer.

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  1. A little hard to say without closer magnification, but I think I like the justified version better. With whatever those captions are in righthand column I think the page would be too busy if it were ragged right. It needs the solid block down the center to anchor it.

  2. Daniel E. Pritchard

    Justified. It accentuates the marginal notes as a separate part of the design.

  3. The images are small because I’m not sure I have the right to show the art, the author’s text is just a draft, and also because this is a sketch and I wanted to focus on the big picture rather than details.

    The sidebar elements are the “tombstone” information — the title, artist, date, medium, etc. — and some notes, which I am hoping will work as sidenotes rather than endnotes or footnotes.

    I will hold off on giving my opinion on rag vs. justified in this design, except to say that I think the points that have been made are good ones.

  4. Because of the additional element of the text in the sidebar, the justified right provides a cleaner definition than the ragged right. Otherwise, you have the ragged right of the main text box butting up against the justified left of the sidebar text, which might be less pleasing to the eye, especially over the course of the whole book.

  5. Whenever you post these examples of work in progress, I learn so much. Even though I worked as a commercial artist, we were busy tuning out mundane stuff and I never had the chance to work on anything so sophisticated. I agree with the majority – justified. I think that the art, as far as I can tell, is “busy” – not in a bad way but with a lot of graphic and dynamic energy. If you use the “rag” option, the subtle uneven endings of the ragged lines with conflict with the art. I remember when I took a letter press class and the teacher showed us a lot of hand set books. They were beautiful but what struck me is that if you lay out a page in that fashion, the focus is on the type, not the art. Now, I realize that what you have shown us is not as extreme as these art books but it’s in the same category. The focus (IMHO), should be on the art and the information.
    But, as we know, YMMV.

  6. Kelly Briner

    I have stumbled upon your website tonight and I know absolutely nothing about publishing but I like the way the justified version looks. It is easier on my eyes.