Is clockwise or counter-clockwise rotated text easier to read?

  • When rotating text with css, should it be rotated clockwise or counter-clockwise? Is one more readable than the other?

    Counter Clockwise: counter clockwise     —    Clockwise: clockwise

    Just for reference of how to do this really badly, I'd like to add another example I grabbed a few months ago.

    For some reason my brain assumes the counter-clockwise text is on the left-side of the screen, while the clockwise-text is is on the right-side of the screen.

    It surprises me to see so many answers using the word *should* as if it is prescribed somewhere, but without any references!

    @PatrickMcElhaney for what it's worth, both images are on the right - I just have my windows taskbar on the right as well. sorry for the confusion.

    @John Oh really? This is a great question, but in retrospect, it lacks context. The answers are all over the map because there are a lot of reasons to rotate text, and "it depends." **Can you post another question that zeros in on the specific use case you have for rotating text?** I'm also hoping someone will ask a well thought out question about book spine orientation.

    There's the Sam Hocevar input (below) to start with, for the proposed question on spine orientation.

    @PatrickMcElhaney at the same time, it's already a popular question, I personally wouldn't discourage this sort of question...

    Most computer screens are oriented landscape, so they do not lack horizontal space as much as vertical space, so I would say, scrap the vertical text to start with.

    @John: Has your question been resolved? This is an important topic that gets referenced a lot.

  • I believe neither is “easier” to read in general, and I would instead try to make it a country-dependent setting that mimics the common book spine orientation, either in the visitor’s country or in the web site’s country.

    In Wikipedia’s book entry, the spine tilting section says the following:

    In the United States, the Commonwealth and in Scandinavia, titles are usually written top-to-bottom on the spine. This means that when the book is placed on a table with the front cover upwards, the title is correctly oriented left-to-right on the spine. This practice is reflected in the industry standards ANSI/NISO Z39.41 and ISO 6357.

    In most of continental Europe, titles are conventionally printed bottom-to-top on the spine so, when the books are placed vertically on shelves, the title can be read by tilting the head to the left.

    My personal preference is counterclockwise rotation, which is consistent with the above since I live in France. A quick look at the ~500 books in my library confirms this: books in French, Spanish or German use CCW whereas books in English (British and American) use CW.

    Edit: it appears that book spine orientation does not necessarily reflect the ease with which it can be read when the book is standing on a shelf. My further understanding is that European books would use CCW because the spine can be read easily when standing, and American books would use CW because the spine can be read when standing (not necessarily with ease) and they can be read easily when lying flat. I don’t have much to back up this theory, though.

    VERY good observation. I was wondering why so many people went for counter clockwise. I'm used to having vertical text read from top to bottom (like a title on a book spine in America).

    @MikeBrown I'm an American and clockwise feels backwards and cumbersome. I'm sure there is more science around this then we are currently providing, more so than a _simple UX decision_.

    It could be that the rationale is different for the two configurations, and that European book spines are easier to read when the book is on a shelf, and American book spines are easier to read when the book is lying flat.

    I don't think it's about being harder to read so much as the dissonance of tilting your head to the right and seeing books in order from bottom to top.

    @SamHocevar: Do any people at all print their book spines *without* rotating the text? I remember seeing some medical and legal texts, the typically voluminous ones, designed that way.

    @Kris Yes, I noticed a couple of the thicker books on my shelf at home did that.

    @Kris: My observation is that there is a link with the way of "selling" the book through its appearance. It seems to me that a lot of modern novels attempt to print the title or author's name as large as possible on the spine, thus always writing vertically. The books that do not rotate the text, printing it in much smaller characters, are usually from publishers considered more prestigious, such as the French "Nouvelle Revue Française".

    More good points there, thanks. [PS: see also my comment at the top, just now.]

    there's a rather good explaination about the book spines here. For the lazy: top-to-bottom is used, because, if a book is lying on the table (or in a small stack) face-up, reading its title should be easy. bottom-to-top is used, because it's easier for the Europeans (left-to-right writing tradition), which is especially apparent when there are several lines of text on the spine (an urge to read the lines left-to-right is only natural).

    As an Australian I'm used to top-to-bottom vertical text (as in the US), but there's a reasonable case to be made for the European alternative; in the tom-to-bottom version, laying the items horizontally with the spines the right way up means reordering the objects if they're sorted (but it does leave the cover of the top item facing up). The European way allows you to take all the items that are sorted when shown vertically and keep them sorted when placing them horizontally (of course you will see the _back_ of the top item, not the front).

    @Marcus thanks for spotting this; I have fixed the second quote.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM