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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Are the wider margins better?

When I first started blogging in 2003, most folks used lower resolution settings on their monitors, and there were very few wide-screen monitors. My sense is that both of those things have changed, so at least temporarily, I've widened the white text-box for my posts (as opposed to my grey-colored sidebar on the right) to make each of the text lines 300 pixels longer than before (now 800 pixels total), at the expense of the dark blue borders on each side.

A few readers may now have to use a slider-bar to get the full text of each post on-screen, but I'm hoping this won't require them to constantly adjust it as they scroll down. And everyone will have to scroll down less frequently.

I'd be interested in readers' opinions — whether practical, technical, or aesthetic — either via email or, preferably, in comments.

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UPDATE (Thu Nov 6 @ 7:15pm): Joanna comments below that she finds the longer text lines less appealing especially for long posts. When I'm blogging — as compared to when I'm writing, say, motions and briefs for trial courts — I tend to write shorter paragraphs. But I certainly write plenty of them. So you might want to consider this question while reading a longer post, such as the post immediately before this one. And I'm also interested, of course, in how this change affects the comments. And while I'm at it, I'll solicit any other general suggestions (although I'm fairly fond of using Verdana for headings and Georgia for regular text).

Posted by Beldar at 06:11 PM in Weblogs | Permalink

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Comments

(1) Greg Q made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 6:22:56 PM | Permalink

I like it. I get really tired of narrow margins.

(2) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 6:54:38 PM | Permalink

New margins = OK

(3) Joanna made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 6:57:33 PM | Permalink

Sorry, but I find wide margins of text difficult to read; particularly on screen and for long wordy posts (not that I know anyone around here who writes posts that fit that description). As I move my eye from the end of a line back to the left to find the next line, I sometimes lose my place. My preference (based on the settings as I post) is to reduce the white column width by about 20 or 30%.

One way I get around the problem, by the way, is to increase the size of the font in my browser.

(4) Joanna made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 6:58:34 PM | Permalink

Er...wide swaths of text...not wide margins of text. Sigh...

(5) Charlie (Colorado) made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 7:36:28 PM | Permalink

Believe it or not, there is actual science on this. text should try not to be more that about 15 words wide; after that people start having trouble keeping on the same line.

That said, there are better ways to set up than using pixel widths. Use a percentage, and the screen will fit itself to suit.

(6) arb made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 8:03:37 PM | Permalink

Works for me!

(7) Beldar made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 8:21:12 PM | Permalink

Charlie: Thanks for that suggestion, but with folks using different text sizes in their browsers (not to mention the folks who have their browsers set to override my font suggestions), "about 15 words wide" is hard to guess at.

I'm also reluctant to go to using percentage settngs because I embed photos in this container fairly often.

Eugene Volokh and his co-Conspirators recently did some site redesign, as part of which they went to Georgia font, which I also like. I still prefer a non-serif font like Verdana for headings, though. And their main text container is set for variable width, meaning that line lengths change constantly with the size of the window. With no side margins to speak of, that results in lines that, to my eye, are way too long, at least to read on a computer monitor.

I also am inclined, purely for aesthetic reasons, to keep the dark blue borders on either side, at least at some width.

I'm thinking now that I won't go back to the 500-pixel main-text container I'd been using, but that I might dial back to, say, 700 instead of the present 800. Anyone else besides Joanna who'd prefer that?

(8) Paul_In_Houston made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 8:48:35 PM | Permalink

I like it just fine, but, "I'm fairly fond of using Verdana for headings and Georgia for regular text."

"Georgia"?"

They don't have a "Texas" font?

Damn! :-(

(9) LibbyLA made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 8:54:36 PM | Permalink

I'm a fan of the Verdana/Georgia combination myself. I do like the wider text area. I keep my screen in portrait orientation, so I will be able to read many of your posts without scrolling down at all.

(10) Donna B. made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 10:44:05 PM | Permalink

If the text area is too wide, I will often just go elsewhere. If it's something I really want to read, I'll make my window narrower.

What I really cannot abide is text that will not realign to my resolution. I will almost never read it.

(11) SAFVet made the following comment | Nov 6, 2008 11:49:05 PM | Permalink

I think a little narrower text area (to fit into the trifocals easier) would be nice. I am having trouble with the font - maybe a little heavier type face or a sans-serif would be more readable.

(12) Bingo made the following comment | Nov 7, 2008 1:18:51 AM | Permalink

FWIW, I like the blue on the borders as well Beldar.

(13) Dale MacInnis made the following comment | Nov 7, 2008 9:54:15 AM | Permalink

Joanna is correct.

(14) Maura made the following comment | Nov 7, 2008 2:32:30 PM | Permalink

Yep, have to say I also prefer a narrower text area. It's just harder to read in the present form.

Thanks for your sensitivity to our proclivities, Beldar! You're the best!

(15) Greg Q made the following comment | Nov 8, 2008 3:36:52 AM | Permalink

Now that you've widened the margins, could you widen the text box where we enter comments? :-)

(16) Lola LB made the following comment | Nov 8, 2008 8:28:48 AM | Permalink

Regarding widening the comment text box . . . you can do that, if you use Mac Safari, that is. I don't know if you can do that in Win Safari.

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