should essays be justified

Should Essays Be Justified?

When it comes to formatting an essay, there are several choices a writer has to make. One of these choices is whether or not to justify the text. Justification refers to the alignment of the text on both the left and right margins, creating a clean and uniform look on the page.

However, is it necessary to justify an essay, or is it merely a matter of preference? In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of justifying your essay text and whether it is a necessary element to consider.

What Does It Mean to Justify Text in an Essay?

When we talk about justifying text in an essay, it refers to aligning the text evenly along both the left and right margins. Justified text creates a clean and polished appearance by creating straight edges on both sides of the text block.

This is achieved by adjusting the spacing between words and characters to fill the entire line width.

Advantages of Justifying an Essay

There are several advantages to justifying text in an essay. First, it can enhance the overall visual appeal of the essay by creating a neat and organized look. Justified text gives a sense of professionalism and attention to detail, which can positively impact the reader’s perception of the work.

Additionally, justified text can improve readability by creating a consistent and uniform appearance, making it easier for the reader to follow the flow of the text. It can also maximize the use of space on the page, allowing for more efficient utilization of available area.

Disadvantages of Justifying an Essay

Despite its benefits, justifying an essay can also present some disadvantages. One main challenge is the potential for awkward spacing and gaps between words, especially when adjusting the text to fit the line width. This can lead to uneven spacing and the appearance of stretched or compressed words, which may negatively affect readability.

Additionally, justifying text can result in irregular word spacing and hyphenation, making the text look less natural and potentially disrupting the reading experience. Furthermore, justifying text requires careful attention to formatting and may require more effort to maintain consistency throughout the essay.

Making the Decision to Justify or Not Justify an Essay

Deciding whether to justify an essay depends on various factors, including the intended audience, the formatting guidelines provided, and personal preferences. It is important to consider the purpose and nature of the essay. For formal academic papers or professional publications, justifying text can lend a polished and professional appearance.

However, for creative writing or more informal essays, a ragged right alignment may be preferred to maintain a more natural and artistic flow.

Additionally, it is essential to follow any specific formatting guidelines or instructions provided by the instructor or publisher. Ultimately, the decision should be based on the overall aesthetics, readability, and requirements of the specific essay.


Deciding whether to justify an essay is a matter of personal preference and the requirements of the assignment or publication. Justification can make an essay look neat and professional, but it can also lead to awkward spacing and uneven word spacing.

Writers should consider the audience, purpose, and specific formatting guidelines before making their decision. Ultimately, the quality of the content and the strength of the argument are more important than the formatting choices made.