[texhax] Line width and 66 characters per line

Donald Arseneau asnd at triumf.ca
Thu Aug 28 02:53:40 CEST 2014

The examples look like an ideal width to me.

Anyway, there is a lot more to consider than a simple rule of thumb.

What "looks right" and is "easy to read" has a lot more to do with
matching the reader's expectations than some theory of aesthetics
involving transcendental numbers, so long practice of reading
extra-wide text can make that layout "best" for you and your peers.
(Average reading speed for sans-serif text has increased greatly in
recent years.)

What works really badly with wide paragraphs are long paragraphs,
because the reader has trouble tracking back to the beginning of
the next line. This can be improved by wider spacing between lines
(thesis layout anyone?)  or text blocks of only a few lines, as
provided by your frequent equations.

Whoever had a thumb in setting the general rule wasn't considering
mathematical text, which has its own demands.  Mainly, you want the
lines wide enough to contain equations without breaking them, but
if most of the equations are short, you want narrower text to avoid
enormous white-space around them.

Donald Arseneau, TRIUMF CMMS, asnd at triumf.ca

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