Alignment in Graphic Design: Understanding What it Means and How to Use It

Alignment in graphics design is one of those not-so-well understood subjects that carry a lot of importance. Correctly applying the principles of alignment in graphic design can improve one's work tenfold by yielding a clearer, much easier-to-understand work. On the other hand, incorrect use of alignment makes a design appear cluttered and unfinished and can be very hard to understand.

The Meaning of Alignment in Graphics Design

In literal terms, alignment means the arrangement of various items in relation to the various borders or edges of the allowable area. Alignment in graphics design definition isn't much different from this. It literally means the lining of graphics and text in relation to the various edges of the design canvas.

Alignment is often overlooked because its application is based on subtlety, but its importance cannot go unnoticed when not applied properly. It is probably the equivalent of furnishing surfaces and apply paint in artisan work.

How to Use Alignment in Graphic Design

The use of alignment mainly depends on the work and the underlying message of the design. It gives a piece of work some character depending on the type of alignment used. Using different types of alignments can immensely improve the outlook of a design depending on how appropriate its placement.

Left Alignment

In left alignment, items are aligned to the left side of the canvas, and new ones are added on the right or at the bottom. In many situations, this is the default, such as in the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite. It is most appropriate when giving a prose description of a product as when giving out points on it.

Because most people are already familiar with it, it tends to have minimal effects on the appearance of the items on the design. Its subtlety causes minimal to no obstruction on the message being communicated, making it a perfect choice when giving descriptions or outlining points.

Center Alignment

Center alignment is a powerful way to highlight items on the canvas. It gives the aligned items a feeling of dominance over the rest of the items on the canvas, effectively making them stand out without the use of shouting colors or other techniques of making objects stand out. Center alignment is a great option to be used with titles, as well as graphics that carry importance in a graphical design piece. Otherwise, a designer might design to align everything to the center, which then makes it a not-so-unique appearance but one that is elegant overall.

Right Alignment

Items aligned to the right have the appearance of being appendages of the rest of the items on the page. They usually give complementary information on the rest of the design. Additionally, they give a design the appearance of flowing from right to left (RTL), which could be a hinting factor when such is intended. Right alignment should be used when giving metadata to the actual elements of design.

Justified Alignment

When items are justified, they are equally spaced out to try and occupy the whole canvas from edge to edge. Justified alignment is not commonly used as it can cause an unexpected appearance of the design given the real estate of the canvas and how it might change under various conditions. It is usually used with descriptive passages.

Vertical Alignment

Unlike other types of alignment, vertical alignment is used in conjunction with other forms of alignment. It defines where items should start out from, filling that space to the edges of the canvas. Items in a graphic design can be aligned to the top, middle, or baseline (bottom). Top alignment is usually the default in CorelDRAW Graphics Suite and gives a great flow to the elements. Middle alignment is appropriate when the items don't fill the canvas. Baseline alignment is not very common, but it is powerful when the items flow by type. To use any of the above alignment types in CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, select the required item, then use the Edit > Alignment option of the menu bar.


Using the right type of alignment is a big factor in the success of design work, and designers must take appropriate steps to determine the correct alignment to be used with the various elements on the canvas.

Need to Download CorelDRAW?

Download a Free 15-Day Trial Now!