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American Letter Paper, Measure, and Point-Size

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I'm trying to make a single column template for business documents on American Letter Paper (51 x 66 picas). The text block I think needs to be horizontally centered (symmetrical left and right margins) because often these documents will printed single sided or viewed on a device that shows one page at a time (e.g. iPad). And I've concluded double or triple columns won't work well with the documents my company produces most of the time; our documents are full of lengthy bulleted lists and I've never thought those looked well with multiple columns. So I'm left with trying to artfully place a single column centered on American Letter Paper while trying to keep the measure from being too long and/or the point size too big.

The problem I'm facing is that if I stick to standard text point size of 10 to 12 points, I have to make the left and right margins greater than an inch to keep the measure from being too long. But since I'm keeping the left and right margins symmetrical, the text block looks awkward at such a narrow width with such wide margins. But if I decrease margins on both sides to less than an inch, I have to increase the point size to 13 points or higher to keep the number of characters per line from exceeding 80 characters on average.

Is 13 points too big for body text? Or can 90 to 100 characters per line averages be acceptable for business documents if I were to go with a smaller point size? Is there another solution?

Thanks!

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2 hours ago, Sheridan said:

Is 13 points too big for body text?

It would really depend on the typeface. 

I fully understand your problem of placing just one main text column on something like a standard letterhead page. I usually try to keep the column narrow enough for an optimal line length—unless the client or the use demand maximizing the use of space on the page. Making a narrow column look right just depends on the overall layout and the other elements on the page. A typical solution is to introduce a sidebar with additional text, a logo or whatever makes sense in the specific context. And/Or to introduce any kind of design elements, which align the narrow text column on the page—by stressing where it is, or contrasting it in the white space around it. 

briefbogen_V3.jpg

 

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On 9/27/2019 at 2:31 PM, Ralf Herrmann said:

It would really depend on the typeface. 

I fully understand your problem of placing just one main text column on something like a standard letterhead page. I usually try to keep the column narrow enough for an optimal line length—unless the client or the use demand maximizing the use of space on the page. Making a narrow column look right just depends on the overall layout and the other elements on the page. A typical solution is to introduce a sidebar with additional text, a logo or whatever makes sense in the specific context. And/Or to introduce any kind of design elements, which align the narrow text column on the page—by stressing where it is, or contrasting it in the white space around it. 

briefbogen_V3.jpg

 

Yeah, I agree with everything you said. In my case, the template would be for lengthy reports, proposals, etc., that have wide tables and charts mixed. And I can never know if the people using these templates would be printing these single or double sided. And they often will haphazardly combine multiple documents into a single pdf which can cause recto and verso to be printed out of order. A centered single column text block seems to be the only solution to me.

I might try maybe having a centered text block but then have a narrow side column to the left for headings (rather than have them in the body). Our documents have lots of headings and subheadings so I can see that narrow column being filled consistently which might make wide side margins look less strange. But I have to make this all work in Word and still be user friendly. 😕

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