Reading and typography

The weather turned cold here yesterday, and that just contributes to my blogging apathy after the Thanksgiving weekend. I’m just too lazy to blog, and the backlog of unread items in NetNewsWire was over 150 this morning. Time to trim the subscriptions again. There’s too much to read, and hardly any of it really matters.

Reading text on the screen continues to be a challenge for most people. A recent newsletter article from Human Factors discusses optimal line length:

“What can we conclude when users are reading prose text from monitors? Users tend to read faster if the line lengths are longer (up to 10 inches). If the line lengths are too short (2.5 inches or less) it may impede rapid reading. Finally, users tend to prefer lines that are moderately long (4 to 5 inches).”

Aaron Swartz reviews “The Elements of Typographic Style”:

“What I’ve realized since reading it is that publishing documents on the Web, no less than preparing them for publication as a book, is typography and deserves the same care as that noble craft. There are some differences, to be sure, but the core it’s about making the meaning of the text shine through the words, a craft that has been practiced for ages.”

He’s also put some excerpts from the book online.