manu larcenet

The Caption Box Mystery

text7

I’ve always tended to center-align text in caption boxes in my own comics… but recently realised that most comics seem to left-align their text in boxes… for example, here’s Ben Katchor and something from the Fantastic Four (featuring Ben Grimm!)

text1

text2

(who also deal with the last line in different ways: Katchor centers the orphan “Alarms”, whilst the Marvel letterer cropped the box itself).

text3

In the english translation of Manu Larcenet‘s Ordinary Victories however, the text is center-aligned.

text6

text5

… whilst samples from Daniel Clowes suggests that he follows the shape of the box/balloon.

So… are there are principled reasons for picking either choice within a rectangular caption box?

Some theories I’ve heard:

1. Left-alignment looks more like a journal or diary entry (via Gene Yang)

2. Left-alignment was technically easier to execute when hand-lettering (via Janice Chiang)

3. Eyeball tracking means readers process left-aligned text more quickly (via Jesse Hamm)

What do other comics creators and readers out there think? 🙂