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Re: Web page layouts in different cultures - question from DIWG

From: fantasai <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net>
Date: Thu, 22 Sep 2005 22:36:24 -0400
Message-ID: <43336A28.20108@inkedblade.net>
To: Rotan Hanrahan <Rotan.Hanrahan@MobileAware.com>
CC: www-international@w3.org, www-di@w3.org, bidi@unicode.org

Rotan Hanrahan wrote:
> 
> * Western text (e.g. english) uses bullet lists that have the bullets on the
> left, the text running horizontally and the list growing downward
> (vertically). What is the case for languages that write text vertically? Or
> Right-to-Left (RTL)?

The layout is the exactly the same if you are using a relative directional
system (before/after, start/end of line instead of top/bottom, left/right of
line). So, for RTL, the bullets and indentation are on the right edge, for
TTB vertical layout they are along the top edge.

> * Western text requires several characters per word. So the information is
> dense vertically, but not so dense horizontally. What is the information
> density for other languages? Idiographics etc? For example, in english, the
> phrase "Home Page" fits into a few pixels high, and many more pixels wide,
> but how does the sample phrase in Chinese compare?

Chinese words average 2 characters long. Japanese and Korean are, I believe,
a bit longer due to inflection (but I have not studied these languages).

> * Are there any special considerations for word-wrapping of vertical text?

Same as in horizontal. There are special considerations for CJK in general,
however.

> * Are there special text layout considerations for ruby annotations?

There must be enough leading between the lines to accomodate ruby annotations.
And of course, your layout engine must support ruby annotations. :)

> * Western text often uses coloured underlining to indicate a hyperlink. What
> is the norm for languages where such lines might not be easy to notice? Are
> there such languages?

Putting out a wild guess here, but I think underlining is generally positioned
such that it is noticeable.

> * If users could choose, would they prefer portrait or landscape layouts? How
> would the rules of their written text influence their preference?

A vertically-set document would be reasonably readable only if
   - it scrolls only horizontally
or
   - it scrolls only vertically, but it's multicol and the columns are
     no broader and no longer than the viewport

It is analogous to saying that a horizontally-set document would be
reasonably readable only if
   - it scrolls only vertically
or
   - it scrolls only horizontally, but it's multicol and the columns
     are no wider and no taller than the viewport

In print, most aspects of vertical layout are analogous to horizontal
layout. The differences are mainly in the details. (Vertical layout
usually has more separation between lines, Chinese uses a different
set of quotation marks, you can use a vertically-compacted font style,
etc.) Another thing to note is that Japanese magazines make frequent
use of mixed layout pages: pages with some boxes laid out horizontally
and others vertically.

One major difference between vertical and horizontal layout is that
vertical layout can stack its lines from right to left (as for CJK)
or from left to right (as for Mongolian and Manchu), whereas horizontal
layout never goes from bottom to top.

~fantasai
Received on Friday, 23 September 2005 02:36:40 GMT

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