Line text length

Subject: Line text length
From: DAVID IBBETSON <ibbetson -at- IDIRECT -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 20 Jul 1996 10:53:48 -0400

>Ed. Weiss recommends (in his book "How To Write Usable User Documentation")
that a text
>line should not be "more than 5 inches wide".

>Does anyone know if this recommendation is based on readability tests ?

>Isn't there a different "maximum width" according to the font used (i.e.
shorter lines
>with SansSerif fonts), and to the font size ?

The relevant factor isn't line length, but angle subtended. I have no
trouble reading posters. Their lines are several feet long. This would
obviously be wrong for a book I held around 30cm from my nose.

Readability tests exist. Most of the ones I've met claim that *for
continuous text* serif is easier than sans.

A "rule" that's been quoted at me recently is that column width should be about
1 1/2 alphabets. Newspaper columns are typically narrower than this, but it
seems to work for books and letters.

David, the idiot, Ibbetson

David Ibbetson ibbetson -at- idirect -dot- com
133 Wilton St, #506, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5A 4A4
Phone (416) 363-6692 Fax (416) 363-4987

If I were a cassowary
On the plains of Timbuctoo,
I would eat a missionary,
Cassock, band, and hymn-book too.
-- Bishop Samuel (Soapy Sam) Wilberforce, ascribed.

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