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Comments: Optimal line length


Yesterday I replied to a posting in the Dutch Usenet group on web design (nl.internet.www.ontwerp) with a link to an article on the optimal line length when reading prose text from a monitor, published in the UI Design Newsletter of November, 2002. I had found this article quite some time ago, and considered it an interesting read and hence it ended up in our local wiki, which Esme and I use to store our bookmarks and other useful notes.

Read the rest of Optimal line length .


I'm curious to know what font-size (in inches) was the base of the conclusion about line-lengths in inches. When they say "users tend to prefer lines that are moderately long (4 to 5 inches)", I would think that rather short in a book with large print, while quite reasonable for average newspaper print.

I think the amount of CPL (characters per line) would matter more than the line-length in inches.

Just my 2 cents - happy info-hunting ;-)

Posted by Els at 09:10 GMT on 5 September 2006

@Els - the first article (Optimal Line Length, UI Design Newsletter, November, 2002) mentions several times font sizes.

The second article (The Effects of Line Length on Children and Adults? Online Reading Performance, Usability News, 4.2 2002) mentions the use of a fixed font size in their research (12-point Arial black on white).

Furthermore the third paragraph of the article reports: "Gregory and Poulton (1970) maintain that people with poor reading ability performed better when the line length was approximately seven words. This suggests that young readers who have not mastered online reading, as well as readers who have vision deficits, may benefit the most from narrower line lengths.".

Posted by John Bokma at 15:50 GMT on 5 September 2006

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