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It's a question of style...   [OT]

By: Martijn Coppoolse   Homepage   Voorburg, NL  
Date: Feb 22,2019 at 02:29
In Response to: Is the default 283-column text OK for human reading? (Slobodan Vujnovic)

> I just opened this post in
> Firefox and hit Ctrl+0 to select
> the default font size, for "normal" people - why else
> would that be set as the default size by the product designers?

You appear to be confusing a few things here. There's font size, that determines the size of each letter: below a certain point size, users won't be able to read the letters. There's also text width, that determines the (maximum) width of a text for it to remain legible as a whole.

The default font size is one that should ensure most people can read the text.
But with today's screen sizes (4K, or even 1280w), text at legible font sizes quickly becomes too wide. This is something a lot of software (and web pages) wasn't designed for — and often still isn't designed for today, because developers and designers don't always adapt their habits to changes in the environment where their software runs, if the software is changed at all.

The workaround for that, of course, is reducing the window width. But users, too, don't always adapt their habits; I still routinely run my applications full-screen, which isn't always necessary (or ideal) anymore, for this very reason. You appear to run into the same problem, too. :-)

> http://www.ztw3.com/forum/forum_entry.php?id=122146
> This sentence spreads itself until the word "ways" hits
> the right margin and wraps. The position is column 283!

The thing is, both you (and, importantly, the web page designers) are now free to narrow the available width to anything less than 283 characters. I've adjusted the styling for this page so the posting has a maximum width of 40 "em"s (an "em" is nominally the width of a capital M in the current font). Here's that overlong sentence:

Agreed. All the more so because most techniques that are being used today to display text (plain text, RTF, HTML, markdown et al.; and the appropriate multiline editing controls in all OSes) have been in use since at least two decades, and have supported ‘soft’ line breaks and ways...

The advantage of this technique is that on a smaller window (or in a larger font), the text will still be wrapped correctly.

Though I have to admit that the CSS rules required for this, max-width, has only existed since Internet Explorer 7, so it hasn't been quite two decades.

> I can't think of a place in real
> life when this is acceptable, except, of
> course, the legalise small print, that you are supposed NOT to even
> attempt to read. This is what reading more elaborate posts in this
> forum
> look like, unless you increase the font considerably, or reduce the
> browser width.

Again, in this instance, this is a limitation of the forum's design, which hasn't changed (much) since the early 2000s — and could even now be remedied fairly simply using the style rule below. In fact, you can actually adjust it on your end by writing your own user style with a single rule to limit the max-width of post text for this forum:

.posting {
max-width: 40em;
Or you could include this bit in each of your replies (note that the extra spaces are important):
<style >.posting { max-width: 40em; }</style >


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