UX Pickle

Ideal column width for paragraphs online

Reading Time - 2 min

Columns only make sense in a web setting if you’re trying to convey a very small amount of information; otherwise, they have a negative impact on usability. In this article we will talk about the ideal column width for paragraphs. Unless you’re designing a horizontal layout, having columns may cause your users to scroll up and down. This is not a problem if you’re using a vertical layout.

Consider how columns add a second axis to the user’s memory when they take a brief break from reading—it’s a lot to keep in mind.

Text that is too long makes it difficult for visitors to focus on what they are reading. For this reason, it is difficult to tell where the line begins and stops due to its length. It can be difficult to keep track of where you left off in long paragraphs of text sometimes.

An overly short line forces the reader’s eye to retrace its steps, which disrupts the flow of the piece. People are more likely to start on the next line before they finish the current one if the lines are too short (hence skipping potentially important words).

Ideal column width for paragraphs online

These rules are general suggestions you can follow for the ideal column width of the paragraphs on your website. You don’t have to follow them as a “one-rule for all,” but rather as a nudge or hint in the proper way.

  • Line length is 12 characters.
  • Regardless of the font size, there are 39 characters (alphabet-and-a-half)
  • Picas is the unit of measurement for the point size multiplied by 2. (points-times-two)
  • The typical guideline for typography is roughly 50-60 to at most 75 characters (spaces included)

Elements of Typographic Style

“The Elements of Typographic Style,” – a book authored by Robert Bringhurst, provides the following more precise measures:

  • Line length should be between 45 and 75 characters, with 66 characters including spaces for a single column.
  • Multi-column; 40 to 50 characters
  • Discontinuous text; generous leading; 85 to 90 characters
  • Justification is required in all 40 characters.
  • Shorthand notes in English; 12 to 15 characters.

Variations in readability


  • There are some folks who find the larger font annoying.. Keep your sights set on the “middle size.”
  • wider is a medium/standard width.
  • larger equates to shorter width.


  • Longer lines become more acceptable when the font size is large (1.9+).
  • lines of equal length are considered typical.
  • lines that are less than one inch long

Length of content

  • long lines x huge line-height = massive glob.
  • shorter sentences + suitable line-height = a concise message

Leave a Reply