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I can't stand reading full-justified text, yet none of my Kindles seem to give me anything else! They all attempt to justify text even when the font size is too large and causes huge gaps between words and other kerning issues. Worse yet are languages like Turkish which I read in—the prevalence of very long words that it has no idea how to break into syllables makes the reading experience even more jarring.

Is there any way to read my books using left-aligned non-justified typesetting?

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  • Kindle publishing does not allow us to CREATE left-justified text; their default is full justification. – user5249 Sep 9 '15 at 17:45
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The justification is normally specified in the CSS included in your ebook. Commercial ebooks often come 'justified', just like most traditional books (which generate less of a problem of large white space, through the combination of hyphenation and wider lines).

It might be that the Kindle overrides the ebooks default, but I doubt it. What you should try is change the CSS in an ebook, e.g. by convert the ebook with Calibre, while specifying Text Justification: Left Alignin the Look & Feel tab of the book conversion page.

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  • The latter part of this answer is helpful for books I own free and clear and can hack on (although you seem to be just guessing), but overall this leaves me hanging for the majority of commercially published ebooks (that are usually DRM locked and loaded directly to my device. It is exactly those books that I am most interested to find a solution for. What you are telling me here boils down to "you can't" for most Kindle books/readers, correct? – Caleb Jan 20 '14 at 13:21
  • @Caleb Correct (and yes I guess, because I don't have a Kindle, exactly to prevent that kind of inflexibility that is counter intuitive in the electronic age). Essentially you are stuck with what the publisher does, just as with books on paper. – Anthon Jan 20 '14 at 14:02
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The problem can be mitigated slightly by using landscape rather than portrait mode on the hardware Kindle, and longer line settings in various Kindle apps. Higher average # of characters per line with these settings means two things.

  1. Lower number of line breaks per book, therefore lower expected number of awkward ones.

  2. Larger average number of spaces per line over which to spread the space needed for justification.

Again, this is a slight mitigation of the problem, it is far from anything that could be dignified by calling it a solution to the problem.

And, depending on your preferences, it may trade off one problem (high probability of awkward line breaks) for a worse one (unpleasantly long lines).

This is one of those problems with Kindle that is shocking to me but doesn't seem to bother many people. Kindle is an amazing device, particularly from a hardware perspective (resolution, battery life, built-in light) but it is uneven, suffering from what seem to be easy-to-fix problems like the justification butchery you mention. It seems like they got many of the hard things right and some of the easy things wrong. I particularly resent the beautiful full-page Kindle ads I see, for example, in the NY Times Book Review. It is probably not true, but I can't help thinking: if only they put the same kind of effort and visual acumen into the device's software that they put into the device's ads...

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Another possible option for books purchased from Amazon is to see if there's a newer version of the book that's using their newer KFX format, what I think they call enhanced typesetting. In that case the Kindle's font/layout options do allow you to switch between ragged right and fully justified. Otherwise your only option is to remove the drm which allows you to edit the CSS in Calibre.

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Yes, you can. In a modern Kindle device you can select the formatting and left-justify it:

how to left justify

But this feature is just available for books you purchased from Amazon. Some older books don't have this feature, but I believe they are reprocessing everything. You can check in the book details if enhanced typesetting Is activated.

You can't do it with your own uploaded personal documents.

If you really want it, you can generate a Kindle book with enhanced typesetting using Calibre.

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  • Great news, if a bit tainted by the run around required to get there. What counts as "a modern Kindle"? Mine is a few years old now, one of the original Paperwhites. Should I start this goose chance reencoding anything I'm reading or is it not going to work for my device? Is there a way to check device compatibility with "enhanced typesetting"? – Caleb Mar 29 at 13:59
  • @caleb I believe all paperwhites have this feature if they have the latest software. – neves Mar 29 at 16:54
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Calibre has several add-ons from the shadier parts of the internet which strip various kinds of DRM easy as pie. Just Google "Calibre add-on strip kindle drm", install it, Lisa's your books from you kindle to your PC and it strips then in the background. Technically it violates the end user agreement but you get to left justify your text and since your not pirating the books in the first place you run no chance of displacing potentially sustenative income for the authors.

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