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Lengths of Lines on the Ranch  RSS feed

 
Campbell Ritchie
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Piet Souris wrote:. . . don't make your lines too long. Maximum of 60 characters . . . lines well above 100 characters (in this topic too). . . . .
I shall split this reply because I think it merits a new thread.

There are two places where line lengths should be considered. One is in code. We have an FAQ/How‑To about that. We mods will happily obscure such posts so the poster can correct the error, though if it is somebody new, I will often correct the error and say, “Doesn't it look better.” That problem occurs inside code tags because they are designed to maintain indentation and syntax highlighting. It makes code difficult to read if you have to scroll left and right. You get similar problems with stack dumps because they are often run together without intervening whitespace causing scrolling problems. I agree that such long lines are bad practice and should be avoided. But maybe 60 is too short. Because I have to copy‑and‑paste to and from a terminal window, I tend to go for 80 characters wide, but most screens will happily support more, maybe up to 120. Even a 10.1″ (=257mm) laptop screen can have 1366px from left to right. That probably does not apply to phones, however.
It is different for plain text in the posts. That automatically wraps words at the end of the line unless somebody uses character tags like ‑ (non‑breaking hyphen) and   which prevent tokens from separating. So the width of ordinary text is approximately the same as the width of the window. I think you should not try shortening lines in ordinary text because I think it makes them harder to read. If you only use the enter key to separate paragraphs, the width of the text is determined by the window. Rather like in the old days when letters were written on paper and the lines went as far as the right margin.
I would think you would find the new look helps you there; because the text is rather narrower, the lines will wrap earlier. In fact the reader can to some extent control the amount on each line by zooming the font size and resizing the window to make the lines easier to read. One can only do that if the line occupies the whole paragraph.
 
Steffe Wilson
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I'm with you on code line length Campbell and most places I've worked have enshrined 80 chrs into the coding standards.

But I'm with Piet on plain text. Take a look at any professional newspaper or magazine site and you will find they have very wide margins (if you are viewing on a desk size screen) so that the line length is kept to 50-90 characters. Makes it easier on the eyes. Just like code.

Consider an actual newspaper for that matter - made up of columns - you never have to track a line across the entire page.

I'm reading this post back on a 1680x1050 monitor and the line length is 210 chrs! My eyes are like:



 
Campbell Ritchie
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Steffe Wilson wrote:. . . Take a look at any professional newspaper or magazine site and you will find they have very wide margins . . .
The wide margins are for fitting adverts in

Actually, I have just counted letters across the page in a typical book. It comes to about 80 letters per line.
 
Steffe Wilson
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:
Steffe Wilson wrote:. . . Take a look at any professional newspaper or magazine site and you will find they have very wide margins . . .
The wide margins are for fitting adverts in

Hehe well they do happen to be useful in that way I must admit! (Useful from their point of view anyways)

How about the BBC website as another example, the BBC are not allowed to show adverts but they have wide margins nevertheless:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news
Line length for their news stories is about 80 chrs.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Steffe Wilson wrote:. . . the BBC are not allowed to show adverts . . .
There is a difference between not being allowed to show adverts and not showing adverts The BBC have always advertised left right and centre, but usually for their own products.


And how long can I string this discussion out before I have to concede defeat?
 
Tony Docherty
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If someone writes a long reply which wraps at the edges of the window and I don't want to read stuff that is the whole width of my screen then I can always size the browser window to a suitable width. However if someone embeds loads of newline chars to force each line to the width they think is suitable then I'm stuck with their idea of what is correct and if I want to go narrower I'm stuffed as the formatting goes totally to pot and the post becomes virtually unreadable.

Where I do agree is I think the right hand margin is currently too small. On the left the margin is effectively large to provide room for the authors name but on the right hand side the text gets too close to the faded window edge to be comfortable. Mind you the margins are no bigger on the old L&F but maybe the fading on the edge of the new L&F accentuates the feeling of discomfort.
 
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