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Grandma's pillowcases are not used for Braille printing.

Updated the 04/08/2022 08:00 

You've opened your technological Braille printing press and aim to offer unparalleled service. Immediately, you have a brilliant idea: What if I used A3 sheets to print many more Braille characters per line?

Stop right there, it's a terrible idea that others have fallen into before you. Keep reading, and I'll explain why.

Using bed sheets of paper isn't really a good way to start your Braille typographer business. You might have an association of ideas and tell me: Newspapers are printed on very large sheets.

That's certainly true, but there are some things you haven't considered:

  • Articles don't cover the entire printable surface but are laid out in columns, strips, or reduced sections of the sheet.
  • The sheets used are of minimal weight, and they don't significantly increase the overall weight of the newspaper, making it foldable and rollable at will.
  • We're dealing with typographic printing, which can't be directly equated to Braille printing.

If it were just a matter of practicality, maybe one could adapt to reading Braille on a large sheet. However, other factors come into play, including readability, orientation, and fatigue.

The problem is similar to that of eye movements when reading a book. Having lines with a high quantity of characters disturbs and fatigues reading because the eye makes too many movements due to the excessive length of the lines, or conversely, when the lines are too short, the same effects occur due to the jumps the eye is forced to make.

Justness is the width of a line of text within a page, i.e., the space within the line where characters are printed. It is a parameter of fundamental importance to ensure the readability of a text. An excessively wide text tires and disorients reading, just as a text that is too short forces too many line breaks. This applies to both ocular and tactile reading: sight or touch become fatigued.

"So, how many Braille characters is it advisable to use per line?"

For Braille, it is useful to have 26 to 39 characters per line, i.e., from once to one and a half times the characters of the alphabet. The number of characters per line (justness) should be added to those used in the margins.

Fortunately, the days when Braille books competed with pillowcases are almost over. Today we have the opportunity to use convenient A4 sheets, with which we can have more compact and Portable Braille books. The touch of the reader will be grateful, and the readability of the books will benefit.

Today, A3 sheets are used to print in magazine format, a particular mode in which four pages are printed per sheet. The idea of using the entire A3 page to print in Braille (duplex mode) is not a good one at all, for the readability reasons I have just explained.

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