RFC - e-mail in tough environments

Martin Gollowitzer gollo at fsfe.org
Thu Dec 10 13:41:26 UTC 2009


* Peter Lewis <prlewis at fsfe.org> [091210 14:18]:
> >     - *Line break of e-mails* Should be around 72 characters. Nobody
> >       will kill you if it is 70 or 74 or even 76. But a lot of people
> >       will get angry if you do not have a line break at all.
> Can I ask what the reason behind this is?
> I really don't like static word wrapping, as much as I don't like static width web pages. I read emails on a variety of devices and window sizes, and the presumption that ~72 characters is appropriate for wherever I'm reading it seems rather arbitrary.
> A good client should have dynamic word wrapping IMO.
I don't think so. A good client should show exactly the content of an
e-mail. If there is no line break, don't show it. I use mutt (IMHO one
of the best e-mail clients out there) which adds a coloured "+" if a
text without a line break hits the right margin in the pager. I think
the 72 chars recommendation has something to do with the 80 chars width
of a standard terminal (not sure about it though).
I personally believe it's better to have narrow lines and more of them 
instead having to read endless lines (and maybe have to scroll in a GUI 
mail client that does not break lines automatically, which I prefer as 
already mentioned).

All the best, 

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