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Ideal column width for paragraphs online

What are the most conventional type of width to read content, especially long content? Is there any studies ?

For example stackexchange & newyorktimes only use about 60-70% of their content box, rather than 100%... Is this just to be able to provide a sidebar with links to help users keep interacting with the site? Or for reading usability?

marked as duplicate by Rahul Jun 20 '12 at 12:42

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