Is 78 characters still a good option? Was: [Haskell-cafe] breaking too long lines

Edward Kmett ekmett at
Tue Apr 21 11:48:44 EDT 2009

I find a hard 80 character line length limit to be somewhat ridiculous in
this day and age. I've long since revised my personal rule of thumb upwards
towards 132, if only because I can still show two windows of that side by
side with no worries, along with all the IDE browsing baggage, even on a
fairly crippled laptop, and I've been able to have 132 columns since I
picked up my first vt220 terminal in 1984 or so.

It seems silly _25 years later_ to still not be able to have even that much
breathing room.

Shorter lengths work very poorly in languages like C# with long LINQ
queries, you tend to have verbose enough member and method names that you
obtain some pretty ridiculous splits. You wind up with some similar
scenarios with list compehensions in Haskell.
I'm not saying that every line should be 130+ characters long, I'm just
saying that 132 characters seems like a more natural hard cut off point.

-Edward Kmett

On Tue, Apr 21, 2009 at 10:53 AM, Richard Kelsall
<r.kelsall at>wrote:

> Dusan Kolar wrote:
> ...
>> Or is the reason much deeper? Or, is the bound set to 78 characters just
>> because it is as good number as any other?
> ...
> As a little historical detour I think the 80 character limit goes back
> to 1928 when IBM designed their punched card format
> I guess it subsequently got embedded into printing and screen widths
> and related software. The slightly less than 80 characters allows for
> CR LF characters.
> Richard.
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