Over on ISerializable, a recent blog entry covered a neat hack for Visual Studio that shows a guide so you know when you’re reaching 80 columns.

One commenter asked, Why?

Speaking purely for myself, I limit all of the code I write to a 99 character margin. Now, I’m sure you’re saying that 99 has to be even more arbitrary than the 80 character limit - but, there is a method to my madness.

When printing source code for review and/or reference, 99 characters fit across an A4 page without wrapping - with an allowance for 4 digit line numbers - when printed in Courier 9pt.

Since I prefer to have my code reviewed by a peer - a great way to catch bugs and blunders - I tend to print my code more often than not.

So, do you use a right-hand margin for your code, or not? Why? Can you justify your decision to a peer? Try it. I dare you.


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August 2005