IOTTMCO

Intuitively Obvious to the Most Casual Observer

This happened to me today. Working with a large external monitor (something I don’t ordinarily do), I pull up the pacman manpage, and realize I can’t read a single thing written. I barely made it through the first sentence. It took me half an hour to realize the reason why: my window was several hundred columns wide, so that the first paragraph was but one line. Completely unreadable.
BSD man always formats to 80 characters wide, so you don’t have this problem, but Debian man (the version on most linux boxen, including ubuntu and arch) formats to the width available, whatever that may be. Fortunately, this can be overridden with the MANWIDTH environment variable - I find 96 columns to be optimal for text.