Readability Tips

Did you know that once you have more than 65 characters in a line, your readers will start to have great difficulty in reading at normal speeds? That is why many newsletters, magazines, and newspapers have more than one column. It shortens the line length so you can read faster. Yet, most technical reports published for in-house corporate use are single column format with one-inch or 1.5-inch margins. That means there are 85–100 characters per line when using Times Roman 12-point font. No wonder readers get bogged down! You can probably plow through your emails much faster if you size your reading window so that the line length is shorter.

Another readability factor is justification. If text is fully justified on both the right and left margins, there are no clues for the eye to find the next line, as all the lines seem to run together. This is especially true of long lines of text (>65 characters); thus, it is even more important to left justify text that runs across the full page, leaving a ragged right margin.

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You will definitely want to read tomorrow’s 200th Writing Style Tip of the Day, which just so happens to fall on April Fool’s Day.

2 Responses to “Readability Tips”

  1. Arnold Burian Says:

    That’s a very interesting point…although you could say that we shouldn’t want our users to speed read through our documentation. It’s already stripped down to the minimum text – don’t miss a step! 🙂

  2. Ben Shows His Cards-Daily Forex and Stock | Daily Forex and Stock Says:

    […] Readability Tips « Technical Writing Tips for the Oil Patch […]

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