THOUGHTS ABOUT
TEXT WIDTHS


by Florence W. Deems

The following are my own opinions about setting the widths of the text areas on our pages. Some people agree with me, some do not. So I offer this strictly for your consideration, and not as some hard and fast rules.

I have an Apple lapop, screen width set to 1024 pixels. On my laptop, my tutes pages look centered. I always put the <div align="center"> tag right after the body tag. My pages are contained within a table 544-630 pixels wide. This makes them easy to read. Because even though they appear on a smaller screen (diagonally) than a TV set, the resolution of computer screens is so much better, that I can read the text clearly.

I use <span class="pt" style="font-size: 25pt; font-weight: bold"> for the main text size instead of font tags. Titles are usually set at 35-40pt. Links are 15pt. And I can read them easily on my laptop.

One thing about using percentages for widths instead of actual pixel widths:

Newspapers and magazines learned long ago to break up their text into columns instead of spreading out each sentence clear across the width of the paper. Why?

Because for many people, it's much easer and quicker to read when you can scan rapidly down the center of a narrow column. Most people can look at the center of a column in a newspaper and also read and understand the words to the left and right of the center word.

This is what speed reading courses teach: to learn to make use of your peripheral vision by scanning down the center of a column. Reducing eye movement to a minimum.

Now if the sentences are spread out across a page, then you scan by jumping several words along the line until you get to the end. Takes longer.

So, pages set at 544, 560, 600 pixels wide can easily be read by any viewers, because their eyes don't have to travel so far horizontally, like they'd have to do if the width were set for 100 percent.

So I would advise AGAINST using 100 percent, and instead, try width="600"

NOTE: For a nice effect, add a background image to the body tag: background="url-of-image" and then another neat trick is to add to the body tag bgproperties="fixed". Fixing the bgproperties allows the page-within-the-table to scroll up or down, while the background remains stationary.

I've noticed that when I access pages like articles in online photo and other magazines and newspapers, the text column has a shorter than 100 percent width. In fact, it's usually only about a third of the width of the screen. To the left of the central text area are the site's navigation links (also called left sidebar). To its right are the photos and text. Sometimes there's also a third column (right sidebar) which may contain links to other pages or ads.

So you see, apparently what counts, for many people, in making a website's text easy to read is the WIDTH of the text part. Narrow is better than strung out 100 percent across the screen.

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Friday 28th of April 2017 03:50:53 PM



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