Listings in the telephone directory
By James Robert Watson, PhD
Existing directory listings
We read by taking a picture of a group of words - not letter by letter. When scanning a phone book or any directory, we find the name and then have to scan to the right a ways to get to the phone number. There is no advantage to setting the info with justified margins. We are not reading a block of copy like prose, we are reading only one line of info. To aid this horizontal eye movement, a line of dots has been added to help us stay on the proper line of info.
Proposed directory listings
In the example below, the numbers are aligned to the immediate left of the names. One scans down the column to the desired name and then sees the number right next to it - no having to move along the line. As shown below, this method saves enough space to allow more letterspacing for clarity and easier reading, to allow setting the phone numbers in bold, and to allow a slightly narrower column width (as shown by the grey bar at the bottom of the column).
Above: Existing telephone directory page. Below: Proposed telephone directory page.
Designed/copyrighted: May, 2003
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