Re: Perfect Width for Your Online Content

Subject: Re: Perfect Width for Your Online Content
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2011 10:10:33 +0200

Sandy,

While I'm in general agreement that text width should ideally be able to be reset by the user, I disagree that it is particularly useful for the "text should flow to fill" a very wide screen width at high resolution.

That is because there is indeed a limit to the ability of the eye to track a line of text easily and comfortably without getting lost and moving to another line, or having to strive to refocus on the original place where you were reading.

This varies with the font, the point size, and the leading between lines of text and is not a hard and fast rule for every given reader in terms of what is "ideal."

It remains true, though, that as the line width increases the line leading and font size should also increase. I always pay attention to the readability of a given font; some are easier to read than others at any given point size. As a general proposition, I tend to prefer fonts with relatively large x-height instead of the ones with very long ascenders and descenders coupled with small x-height--so long as we are speaking of body text.

This kind of typographic control is only now making its way to the Web, however.

Often, these kinds of considerations become somewhat subliminal. However, we've had many centuries to work out these kinds of relationships in the printed typography arena, and it is not for nothing that most books fall within a relatively small area of line width choices.

For example, I am composing this in the Eudora OSE email client. The text flows to suit the size of the composition window. Just now, I resized it back and forth to find the area in which I was most comfortable reading--and, strangely enough, it resulted in a width very similar to what is commonly used in books. I believe this is not simply because of what I am used to, but also because it is so much simpler to keep track of the lines as I read them.

David

On 03/23/2011 07:55 AM, techwr-l-request -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com wrote:

From:
Sandy Harris <sandyinchina -at- gmail -dot- com>


You have prodded one of my buttons. The perfect width
is user-controlled. Authors should not even try to set
width.
...

When I bring up your site on my 1920-wide screen,
do not limit me to your 640 by 480 lowest common
denominator format. The text should flow to fill my
screen.

On the other hand, when I have a dozen windows
open and give you only a tiny one, that should work
too.


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