3

I face this problem most of the time. I don't know what's right what's wrong because I have tried all of them. But I feel some options could be better than others or there's some other solution.

enter image description here enter image description here

1 and 2 have 4 copy options. Difference is where you press enter. After the comma or comma moves to next line. Also, 1st line can be bigger and 2nd line can be smaller and vice versa. Most of the time I tend to keep them same length. But it doesn't always seem possible.

Same problem is with 3.

4 and 5 can also have same problems but I would like to discuss the alignment. One is aligned with comma and one with ending words. I've highlighted them in yellow. (same doubt arises about other similar characters).

So how do you decide line break, line lengths and alignments?

PS: Kindly don't judge the placements of circles. I just put them in hurry. The question is specifically about copies.

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    I don't agree with the votes to close this as opinion-based. The question is rather broad, but isn't there something objective to be said about this? One of the problems answering this is that it all depends very much on what exactly the text says. And where to split the lines and how to align when there is a comma seems like two different issues. – Wolff Aug 31 '20 at 18:01
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    I have been taught (and thus, teach) that centering text is usually not the right option. Right-align or lief-align are preferred, because they are easier on the eyes when trying to actually read the text. Bluntly, I always joke to 'keep the centering for wedding party menus and obituaries, and choose something else in all other cases.' :) – Vincent Sep 1 '20 at 9:40
  • @Vincent posts here instagram.com/theselector.app are mostly center aligned with main subject. So one would say these could be better by aligning to sides rather than center? – Vikas Sep 1 '20 at 12:10
  • No, because these are mainly single lines. Especially when the design they're in is symmetrical (as most are), centering single lines is fine. Hence the jocular 'wedding menus and obituaries'. Once text becomes multiline, centering becomes a bad idea imho. – Vincent Sep 1 '20 at 12:14
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    @Vincent, don't forget circus posters! – Wolff Sep 1 '20 at 14:43
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All this is somewhat subjective, but my experience has lead me to a few basic, general, guidelines I follow. However, each design is unique. While I try and adhere to these as much as possible, I don't see them as "set in stone" if some unique text requires a different treatment.

As with all design, balance is the key. And to that end, it is necessary to evaluate each sentence, headline, phrase, etc. individually and then determine, based on the desired perception, where breaks best fit.


A great deal depends upon exactly what the text reads, but in general one should try and create a visual balance when adding line breaks.

For two lines, it's best to always have the bottom line longer than the top if possible:

This is some random text that is too long to
fit on one line so it must be broken into multiple lines.

As opposed to:

This is some random text that is too long to fit on one line
so it must be broken into multiple lines.

Why... because this creates a perceived upward movement and upward movements are always subconsciously seen as "good" or "favorable" by the viewer. If the goal of a design is to be gloomy or come across as unfavorable, then you'd reverse and have the top line longer leading to a downward perception. A longer bottom line also lends to the perception of a "solid base", "sound footing", dependable, etc.


For three lines, it's best to have a short - long - short pattern, a la:

This is some random text that is
too long to fit on one line so it must be
broken into multiple lines.

As opposed to....

This is some random text
that is too long to fit on one line
so it must be broken into multiple lines.

or...

This is some random text that is too long
to fit on one line so it must be
broken into multiple lines.

Making the middle line longer again creates a sense of movement, interest, and balance.
(I can't center align these on this site, but the perception is increased if all these were line-for-line centered.)

Having a longer first line almost always lends to a perception of "unbalanced" as if a teeter-totter that's about to sway. That doesn't promote feelings of safe, secure, predictable, etc - which one often wants in design.


Placement.......

This is merely something I'm aware of -- I try to place line breaks at logical locations prior to a noun or verb. This isn't always feasible, but if a break can be placed before a noun or verb it subconsciously propels the reader to the next line, although admittedly in a very minute way.

I would also point out that commas do not necessarily mean there must be a line break following them. If it doesn't balance well to place a break after a comma, I ignore the comma and break a line where it balances and is logical.


Specifics...

There are some cases where one must choose to use more line breaks than what may be necessary. This all depends upon the exact wording. For example:

Lorem Ipsum,
dor sit

Would appear more balanced with a second line break:

Lorem
Ipsum,
dor sit

Actual copy matters. This won't fit in all instances, but it does for that Lorem Ipsum example.


I'll again point out, this is merely how I work based upon my experience. Nothing is set in stone and at times it's necessary to break these personal guidelines in order to create an effective design. It's difficult to answer with hard and fast "rules" since all copy will vary.

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  • thanks. But did you cover the doubt of alignment of comma in my 4 and 5 examples? Should it align with comma or the words should align? – Vikas Sep 2 '20 at 12:23
  • can you please put some light on this line: "because this creates a perceived upward movement" I didn't understand it. – Vikas Sep 11 '20 at 19:40
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    The topic of Perceived Motion is rather in depth and not suited for this venue. – Scott Sep 11 '20 at 21:31
  • lol that's too much science @Scott I expected simple definition :P – Vikas Sep 11 '20 at 22:58
3

Don't think just about visual design when it comes to text. This is language you are working with, not shapes and colors. Every team and project should have a writer or editor who can make decisions about word placement and line breaks. Ask for advice from the people who are as precise about language as you are about visuals.

The answer above has a whopper of a language mistake -- breaking an infinitive phrase.

There are language-based rules about line breaks. These have nothing to do with shapes or visual appeal. Here are just a few examples that good editors would not allow.

Do not break an infinitive ('to' and base verb). This is wrong:

You can be among the first to
go on the new Banshee coaster!

This is better:

You can be among the first
to go on the new Banshee coaster!

Do not break an adjective from the noun it modifies ('full-bodied wine'). This is wrong:

Enjoy a rich, robust and full-bodied
wine that's surprisingly inexpensive.

This is better:

Enjoy a rich, robust, full-bodied wine
that's surprisingly inexpensive.

The last word before a comma should not break to the next line. This is wrong:

  If you want the biggest bang for your
  buck, don't forget to pay the piper!

This is better

If you want the biggest bang for your buck, 
don't forget to pay the piper!

Now in all cases, the way the text needs to break (based on the wording) may present a new visual design challenge. Maybe you have to adjust the size of one line to keep them equal length, or use more or fewer lines to fit the space. Maybe you align the text differently. Maybe you ask the writer to shorten or lengthen a headline. The main point is, you cannot break text just for visual reasons without considering the words, phrases, and grammar.

A simple trick is to read the text out loud, with a big pause at a line break. If it sounds very unnatural, the line break is probably bad.

Look at newspaper and magazine headlines for examples. Good copy editors work hard to create short lines of text that read smoothly.

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    My samples weren't meant to follow language rules.. the focus was breaks.. so yeah.. in terms of language, they could be better. Your lines all appear to break (conveniently) into even lines.. that almost never happens in my experience. – Scott Sep 1 '20 at 16:43
  • Hi user8356. Are you a graphic designer also? I wanted to clarify a few points you've mentioned. – Vikas Sep 3 '20 at 12:18
  • @Vikas: Hi Vikas. I've worked as a writer, designer, and editor for news and marketing/PR/product sales organizations. Also a photographer and illustrator. I've 'worn a lot of hats' in a couple decades of work that all dealt with communication. I have experience in print and online design. But I'm not a full-time graphic designer these days. – user8356 Sep 4 '20 at 13:23
  • @user8356 okay, now the line break thing is clear to me. But one doubt remains I guess it's more about design now. That's why I asked you if you had done some design or not. But since you've worked on it, would you please clarify the doubt about alignment? I've edited the question for better understanding. – Vikas Sep 5 '20 at 20:58
  • @user8356 can you please also give an example about a sentence where there's "and"? Should we break after and or and should go in next line? – Vikas Nov 16 '20 at 4:42

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