[PLUG] Line lengths for emails

Dale Snell ddsnell at frontier.com
Wed Jan 7 14:29:20 PST 2015

On Wed, 7 Jan 2015 13:32:27 -0800
Keith Lofstrom <keithl at gate.kl-ic.com> wrote:

> This may be a religious question, but here goes. 
> I tend to write my emails and other documents with a target line
> length approaching but less than 68 characters - I trained in an
> era of 80 column terminals, and multiple-quoted emails with ">>>>>"
> in front of the lines become much harder to read when they wrap. 

I appreciate the narrower fill length, believe me.  I too trained
with 80 column terminals.  (Heck, my old Tek 4051 had a 72 column
screen.)  As for the multiply-quoted messages mentioned above,
I've been known to re-fill such messages, so the lines don't go
off the (80 column) screen.

> I usually read emails in 80 column windows, though sometimes I use
> a full screen window 170 characters wide, even 250 characters wide
> with tiny fonts when I am looking at log files.  An email without
> line breaks is very difficult to read 250 characters wide!

These days I run Claw-Mail, though I've been considering going
back to MH-E.  (I have Claws set up to use Emacs as its external
editor, since my fingers automatically use Emacs keystrokes.)
Claws will generally do a decent job of line wrapping.  Not
always, but usually.

> So, what do you folks find easiest to read, and what is your 
> tolerance range?  I expect some will respond like "all lines MUST
> be exactly 72 characters, use a thesaurus to find words with the
> correct spacing" or "my enter key is broken so it is all one line."
> Such responses will be weighted appropriately.
> Keith

I have Claws' message pane set to 80 columns, and its line-wrap
length (fill-column for us Emacsies) to 72.  For writing email, I
use Emacs, as mentioned above.  I have the fill-column set to 66
columns, probably a holdover from my high school typing classes.

I refuse to indulge in 2048-pixel-wide terminals.  :-(  Those
aren't a Windows-only affectation, alas.  I've gotten mail from
some Linux people that has the same "structure."  Just because I
have a 2048 pixel width screen, doesn't mean I want my terminals
that wide.  Actually, I can have two 80-column terminals
side-by-side on one screen.

Broken Enter key?  Get another keyboard.  FreeGeek has them, as do
other places.  Heck, I bought my current keyboard, brand new, at
ENU for about $15.00.  Messages must be fully justified to 72
columns?  *Phthththtttt!*  Well, if you absolutely must, use nroff
or LaTeX.  But please, don't.  Just don't.


clairvoyant, n.:  A person, commonly a woman, who has the power of
seeing that which is invisible to her patron -- namely, that he is
a blockhead.    -- Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"
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