Number of Columns Per Page in a Medical Journal
November 10, 2006 to November 13, 2006
Is there any rule about the number of columns each page should have in a medical journal?
Most important journals are edited in a two-column format since a long time ago; however, most papers now are read on the Internet, and it may be easier to read in one column format.
Any suggestions about it?
Carlo V Caballero-Uribe
Editor, Salud Uninorte
I believe research supports that a printed page is easier to read in two or even three columns depending upon the size of the page. Think of the formatting of newspapers for ease of reading.
Diana J. Mason
Editor-in-Chief, American Journal of Nursing
The American Medical Association Manual of Style suggests that each line in a column should have more than 40 characters to avoid excessive hyphenation, and less than 50 to prevent a problem of readability. This may be a clue; however, I think they are not strict rules.
I have a relevant question. Some journals have chosen not to justify the paragraphs. A rationale is that the lines are easily distinguished, and the reader does not lose them. Also, we preferred this method to prevent hyphenation and excessive spaces between the words, as our font is rather large. I would like to know my colleagues’ opinions in this regard.
Executive Editor, Urology Journal
Having impersonated a graphic designer on several occasions, sometimes for money, I believe the research shows that the longest line length easily read is 2.5 alphabets long. That is, there is a relationship between type size and line length. Most designers prefer shorter lines; the 40- to 50-character length sounds about right for body copy.
Justification does not seem to matter when the lines are short. Many newspapers and journals with narrow columns use justified margins. Longer lines, however, such as on a manuscript page, are read more easily with ragged right margins. The eye needs the variation at the ends of the lines to track from one line to the next.
Serif type (eg, Times New Roman) is generally preferred for the main text, whereas sans-serif type (eg, Arial) is generally preferred for headings or presentation graphics, such as posters. Many designers, however, see the differences as small and choose serif or sans-serif type based on which best contributes to the overall design of the page.
For what it's worth.
I support the registration of trials as an important
initiative to improve the reporting of clinical studies. Trial registers that
currently meet all of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors
and World Health Organization requirements can be found at http://www.icmje.org/faq.pdf.
I also consider 2 columns if your printed version is small or 3 if it's like a DINA-4, not because I'm sure about it, but it's what I was using up to now.