Line length preference as a designer ignorance check

It seems this particular aspect is of the web typography can be a good marker of the designer ignorance.

Today I’ve got the second lesson from #BetterWebType. And what do I see? The same old mantra:

The ideal width of a line of text is from 45 to 75 characters — including spaces. Anything that reaches far from that range gets hard to read very quickly.

Who do they acknowledge? Material design guidelines. Who do they acknowledge? Baymard institute article. Who do they acknowledge? “Typographie”, E. Ruder and The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web. Definitely good art books but where did they get that numbers? I couldn’t find any reference to the conducted studies.

Meantime there are many studies on this topic which shows that in the 25 to 100 characters per line range reading speed is either the same or better at the longer lines especially for the fast readers.
Dyson, M. C., & Kipping, G. J. (1998). The Effects of Line Length and Method of Movement on Patterns of Reading from Screen. Visible Language, 32(2), 150–181.
Ling, J., & Van Schaik, P. (2006). The influence of font type and line length on visual search and information retrieval in web pages. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 64(5), 395–404.

Personal aesthetical preferences, habits and cultural stereotypes of course matter. Some participants in the readability studies even reported faster reading speed with the smaller lines while actually they have read the longer lines faster. But I don’t think the professionals should be fooled by this.

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