Things Not to Do with Your Text

Author: Kevin Moe
Date: November 15

As you begin to add text to your website, there are several guidelines of things you should try to avoid:

  • Avoid very long lines of text. The eye has trouble scanning when a line of text stretches all the way across the page. A good rule of thumb to remember is that lines should be two alphabets (52 characters), give or take.
  • Watch out for very short lines as well. The eye will get tired out faster if it has to continually break its stride to move to the next line.
  • Don’t change font colors to highlight a word. Viewers will expect a differently colored word to be a link to something. They may try clicking on it, breaking their concentration. Subsequently, they will become frustrated when they find the word doesn’t link to anything.
  • For the same reason, avoid underlining words to place emphasis on something in the text. Again, readers will think this is a link.
  • Use italics if you want to place special stress on a portion of your text.
  • Don’t place a lot of text at strange angles, especially sideways. A vertical line of text can engage the eye, as long as it’s a short phrase or statement used primarily for visual appeal. If it is a longer passage that is integral to site comprehension, readers will be put off as they can’t turn their screens easily.

Here are some sites with more guides on how to handle your text:

Optimal line lengths

Legibility and readability in design

Things not to do with a website

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