W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > May 2004

Re: columns

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Wed, 26 May 2004 07:42:41 +0100 (BST)
Message-Id: <200405260642.i4Q6gf701217@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: www-style@w3.org

> as the window. When there's more content than fits onto the page, 
> columns would overflow to the right of the window and if 'overflow:auto' 
> is in effect, the user would scroll horizontally to see the content. But 

How would this work with print media?  There is already quite a serious
problem (more than half the pages that I try to print) of pages that 
get cropped at the right when printed.

Moreover, it seems to me that the potential requirements to either
scroll backwards or sideways, both of which are fairly unnatural for
users, represent serious problems in any use of reflowable multi-column
formatting on screen media.  I find the need to do a combination of
both directions of scroll one of the main annoyances in reading many
PDF documents at a reasonable zoom level.

To me, the only sensible reason for doing reflowable multi-column layouts
on screen media is control the length of lines for ease of reading.
I believe that is why newspapers and magazines use multiple columns and
why novels are normally smaller paper sizes than A5.  In that case:

- the number of columns should be dependent on the number of characters in
  the overall width (and unlikely to exceed 2[a], degenerating to 1 when a 
  large font is selected, or a small window used);
- the number of columns should fit the available horizontal space - there
  should be no horizontal overflow;
- overflow should be handled the way that multi-column printed magazines 
  handle it, i.e. by starting a new column when the bottom of the available
  screen height is reached (other features may make parts of the screen 
  unavailable) and a new screenful started when the width would overflow.

[a] If you exceed 2, your font size is too small, or you are forcing
people to move their eyes back too often, or you are using a wide screen
TV as the display device.
Received on Wednesday, 26 May 2004 02:53:13 UTC

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