In Word 2010, paragraph alignment has nothing to do with politics, and justification has nothing to do with the right or wrong of how paragraphs are formatted. When you're talking Word, both terms refer to how the left and right edges of the paragraph look on a page. The four options are Left, Center, Right, and Fully Justified.

Line up on the left!

Much to the pleasure of southpaws the English-speaking world over, left-aligning a paragraph is considered normal: The left side of the paragraph is all even and tidy, and the right side is jagged, not lined up.


To left-align a paragraph, press Ctrl+L or click the Align Left command button. This type of alignment is also known as ragged right. Left-aligning a paragraph is how you “undo” the other types of alignment.

Everyone center!

Centering a paragraph places each line in that paragraph in the middle of the page, with an equal amount of space to the line's right or left.


To center a paragraph, press Ctrl+E or use the Center command button.

Centering is ideal for titles and single lines of text. It's ugly for paragraphs and makes reading your text more difficult.

Line up on the right!

A right-aligned paragraph has its right margin nice and even. The left margin, however, is jagged. When do you use this type of formatting? Who knows, but it sure feels funky typing a right-aligned paragraph.


To flush your text along the right side of the page, press Ctrl+R or click the Align Right command button. This type of alignment is also known as ragged left or flush right.

Line up on both sides!

Lining up both sides of a paragraph is full justification: Both the left and right sides of a paragraph are neat and tidy, flush with the margins.


To give your paragraph full justification, press Ctrl+J or click the Justify command button. Word makes each side of the paragraph line up by inserting tiny slivers of extra space between the words in a paragraph.

Fully justified paragraph formatting is often used in newspapers and magazines, which makes the thin columns of text easier to read.

Did this glimpse into formatting Word documents leave you longing for more information and insight about Microsoft's popular word processing program? You're free to test drive any of the For Dummies eLearning courses. Pick your course (you may be interested in more from Word 2013), fill out a quick registration, and then give eLearning a spin with the Try It! button. You'll be right on course for more trusted know how: The full version's also available at Word 2013.