[pmwiki-users] Proposition for a new PmWiki Skin

Rogutės Sparnuotos rogutes at googlemail.com
Thu Oct 13 05:31:35 CDT 2011

John Rankin (2011-10-13 12:41):
> > On Tuesday 11 October 2011 23:02:40, John Rankin wrote :
> >> Is there a reason *not* to follow generally-accepted practice of an
> >> average 12 words per line?
> >
> > More than one. A narrow column width may be a generally-accepted practice
> > in
> > print, and may be better and easier for long texts like books of fiction.
> >
> > But people don't read on the web like they read books. On the web, people
> > scan
> > the pages for section titles, bold/highlighted keywords, links, bulletted
> > lists... looking for some pieces of information they need. When they find
> > that
> > information, they read it and they go away, and their whole visit lasts on
> > the
> > average no more than 30-60 seconds.
> I don't think it's valid to make such a generalisation, although it is
> true in the case of many sites. For sites with longer articles, such as
> blogs, online newspapers or magazines and the like -- ones designed to be
> read, in other words -- narrower column widths are common.
> But you are right that the more common use case for visitors to pmwiki.org
> is likely to be people looking for some pieces of information they need,
> so the points you make are fair ones.
> >
> > ... The following report
> >
> >   http://www.useit.com/alertbox/screen_resolution.html
> >
> > recommends to optimize layouts for 1024x768 and it uses "max-width:50em"
> > for
> > the content column; for larger screens, this width is still very readable,
> > for
> > smaller screens the page will adapt itself and become narrower and taller.
> It also uses line-height: 130% but this may be too small with a font other
> than Verdana, which has a small x-height. It would be worth testing 150%,
> in my view. This may give slightly more balance to the competing goals of
> readability and scanability.
> >
> > We couldn't know what width would be best for the content of other
> > pmwikis;
> > even if the new layout of pmwiki.org is wider than 33em, it will be
> > possible
> > for an admin to make it narrower, for example by adding a line in
> > local.css.
> I suggest documenting on pmwiki.org the reasons behind the layout design
> decisions. Given that so many online web style guides recommend a line
> width of 45 to 75 characters, explaining that pmwiki.org made a conscious
> decision not to follow this guideline would be a good thing to do. See for
> example
> http://thewebalyst.com/website-readability-what-font-size-line-width-line-height-six-key-website-design-guidelines/
> Perhaps something like: pmwiki.org chose to use max-width: 50em because
> visitors to pmwiki.org scan more than they read and a longer line reduces
> the need to scroll looking for the information they seek, without
> unnecessarily sacrificing readability. On the other hand, if a site's
> visitors read more than they scan, and the articles are longer, it may be
> better for the designer to choose a narrower measure, such as max-width:
> 33em. The pmwiki css file makes it easy for site designers to set a
> measure appropriate to the needs of their visitors.

This and other links to "web design blogs" posted recently appear
inconsistent. This one says "font size at least 16px", yet they use 14px.
It says "these lines are 70-80 characters", yet I count >95 characters per

I think that with wide monitors, if one wants to use max-width<50em, it
has to be a great website design (no white emptiness around), or columns.

Overall, I do agree that readability is improved with 16px font, limited line
width (<105 characters) and bigger line height.

Do you know any popular websites that have 45-75 characters per line and
don't use columns?

--  Rogutės Sparnuotos

More information about the pmwiki-users mailing list