Robert Bringhurst's book "The Elements of Typographic Style" is an invaluable resource to any print or web designer currently practicing. I purchased this book a while back, and now sitting in the airport after SxSWi, I've finally gotten a chance to examine it in detail. Here are some important teachings I've gotten so far.
Line length is critical in print and web design. Perhaps the greatest rationale for arguing against a fluid-width web layout come from the general rules of thumbed defined in Robert's book.
The measure, or the line-length, is fundamental to the readability of your text:
- In general a satisfactory measure is anywhere between 45 and 75 characters long.
- A 66-character line measure is widely regarded as ideal.
- For multiple columns, a measure of 40-50 characters tends to be satisfactory.
- You should not go below a 40 character measure when text is justified.
Choosing ragged lines or applying justification can affect the structure and feel of your piece:
- If both styles of alignment suit the piece, choose ragged.
- San-serif fonts tend to look better using ragged lines.
- Mono-spaced fonts always look better ragged.
- Justification of text in columns with shorter measures can lead to over-hyphenation.