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Fri, 10 Oct 1997 09:23:09 -0400
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hans aberg writes, with respect to a request to wrap to 72 characters
in e-mail:

      Phillip Helbig mentions the email problem specifically when reading
    quotes in email: Even though it is possible to avoid it hard wrapping of
    email text, most emailers do it, because there may be email readers that
    cannot handle it well otherwise.

      But it is not necessary to do it: With styled text, quotes are enclosed
    with an environment <excerpt>... </excerpt>, in my email reader displayed
    with a bar at the left hand side of the quote. So quotes can be formatted
    and quoted as many times as you please. And emailers that can read such
    email are for free, at least on Mac's and PC's, so there is not much reason
    to not upgrade. (I mean, if there are advanced, expensive computers that
    cannot do the simple things that all the inexpensive computers can do, why
    should we all others bother?)

i can sympathize with this, but i'm unfortunately on the wrong end of
this, working on a vms system.  when e-mail lines exceed 256 characters,
they are often truncated when they reach me.  this is much more serious
than something that is simply hard to read.  though i don't much
appreciate all the =-coded translation that occurs in mime-originated
messages, i can usually cope with it.  it becomes a real problem,
however, when i receive e-mail from a list in digested form, some of
it mime-processed, some of it not -- then it's impossible to put the
entire thing through a mime translator and end up with a reliable
result.   this is especially pernicious on tex source.

there really is some value to the shorter lines.

(apologies for being off-topic.)
                                        -- barbara beeton