Crosby – The Measure of Reality – Quantification and Western Society 1250-1600

Crosby, Alfred W., The Measure of Reality: Quantification and Western Society, 1250-1600 (Cambridge Univ. Press), 1997. 245pp. (Issued in the US as The Measure of Reality: Quantification in Western Europe, 1250-1600)

[cross-posted on Albion’s Seedlings]

Recently, I reviewed a book (Nisbett’s Geography of Thought) that describes the social psychological research on thinking styles in East Asia and the West. Nisbett traces the origins of the Western predisposition to thinking with Platonic properties, objects and “actors” to Greek philosophy and culture. In an earlier review of a book about the Peloponnesian War by VD Hanson, certainly demonstrated the unusual economic nature of a 5th cent. BC Athenian democracy, harnessing extraordinary financial and physical resources, even in causes that were tragic, despicable, or ultimately misguided. But did the Greeks of that era, ordinary men and women, actually see the world as we modern Westerners do … in ways that Nisbett and his colleagues now claim to distinguish in the lab?

I have my doubts.

The history of Athenian or Greek democracy is very important to the Anglo-American civic tradition but it forms only small portion of Mediterranean history, covering a modest geographical area. Are we correct to source Western modes of perception exclusively on Greek innovation and culture of that era alone? … despite centuries of subsequent Macedonian, Roman (republican & imperial), Byzantine, Norman, and Ottoman occupation of the region? How much of classical Platonic philosophy really informed the perceptual styles of Mediterranean and European cultures? Would the Greeks of intervening eras, for example, have seen the world as we do – have drawn so much on the mathematical sophistication of Euclid, Claudius Ptolemy, and their other ancient colleagues?

Grant that underlying cultural or perceptual differences in East and West might have a significant effect on how technological innovations were embraced and extended in both hemispheres over the last millennium. The social psychologists seem to think so. The economic historians of recent decades have many explanations for why technology surged ahead in the West after 1500AD yet stagnated during the same period in China. Can we push such East/West distinctions back 2500 years? In earlier posts reviewing books on glass and gunpowder, there was plenty of evidence that the West made profoundly different use of basic materials and technology than Eastern or Asian cultures. Both hemispheres adopted these materials (and associated technologies) roughly at the same time? but generally long after the seminal period in Greek philosophy which Nisbett emphasizes. Nisbett certainly believes that the Western style of logic and rhetoric is particularly suited to science but it is a mighty leap from Plato to Newton. And historians of the European periods between classical Greece and the Scientific Revolution would be skeptical about tying modern Western perception to the era of Plato and Aristotle.

For the last half-century at least, there’s been a dramatic rewriting of English-language histories to more fully and accurately record the origins of many technologies … whether gunpowder, compasses, algebra, paper, block printing, Hindu-Arabic numerals, ocean exploration, etc. etc. Much of this rewriting is a thinly veiled quest for retroactive cultural “bonus points” to ameliorate the humiliation of Asia making no substantial cultural contribution to modern technology between 1500AD and 1900AD. But it serves the useful purpose of clarifying exactly what Europeans brought to the mix when they began surging out of the Mediterranean in the late 13th century. Swapping the Whiggisms of Victorian historians for the feeble “everyone gets a ribbon” standards of modern academic historiography doesn’t explain why the Westerners simply “did” so much more with the ideas and technologies they bumped into, borrowed or stole on the Western margins of Asia.

So we’re back where we started. The annals of Greek history and philosophy certain inspire the West and have done so for centuries … but they don’t fully explain why ordinary Westerners (and even moreso, those of us on this blog would claim, Anglosphere citizens) appear to view the world in distinctive ways that can now be repeatedly measured by social scientists. We have both the results of social psychology research and the distinctive history of European technological innovation (let alone the subsequent scientific and industrial revolutions) to explain.

Some intermediate step between Plato and Newton is required, between Claudius Ptolemy and Sir Francis Drake, and between Aristotle and Darwin.

U Texas/Austin history professor emeritus Alfred Crosby’s book “The Measure of Reality” provides both an historical and a psychological bridge between the world of the Greeks and the full-flowered Renaissance that underlay the industrial and scientific revolutions of western Europe. According to Crosby, changes in “mentalité” in northern Italy between 1275 and 1325 set the firm foundation for the worldview that we now absorb from our mothers as toddlers.

Disdained by the Muslims and Byzantines in the 800s,

Six centuries later the Franks were at least equal to, and even ahead of, the Muslims and everyone else in the world in certain kinds of mathematics and mechanical innovation. They were in the first stage of developing science-cum-technology that would be the glory of the civilization and the edged weapon of their imperialistic expansion. How, between the ninth and the sixteenth centuries, had these bumpkins managed all that?

Known widely for his writings on the biological and cultural impact of Europe on North America (decades before Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel), Professor Crosby has extended his interest into what he calls mentalité, in this case, the European attitudes toward the natural world (shared by elite and commoner alike) that provided the context for specific technological discoveries or borrowings. It was the change in mentalité, Crosby would hold, that drove technological development forward in a way unmatched by other civilizations.

Crosby believes that the period between 1275 and 1325 (and shortly thereafter) in northern Italy saw the radical realignment of social attitudes toward the nature and management of time and space. This dramatic change in perspective (literal and figurative) was in turn to influence navigation, mapmaking, timekeeping, mathematics, art, writing, music, optics, mechanical devices, and financial management. This wasn’t the Renaissance; it was the Renaissance’s foundation. Before this critical 50 years, the world was still as Aristotle and Plato conceived it. And as most of the world’s civilizations perceived it. Afterward, the view that humans could both predict the world and re-create it as they wished gained irreversible credibility. Crosby further believes that the dramatic changes in attitude toward the natural world were still insufficient to explain the explosive leap ahead which European cultures made in the late medieval period.

The final “striking of the match,” according to the professor, was the linking of quantification techniques (n.b., echoes of Nisbett’s cognitive research) with the aggressive development of visualization methods: maps, perspective drawing, clock faces, plotted cannonball trajectories, musical notation, algebraic notation, alphabetization, book indexing and tables of contents, etc. etc. At every turn, the properties of objects were being measured, recorded, and evaluated from the perspective of literally a new vision of “reality” … simpler, universal, and graspable by ordinary people.

“The choice of the Renaissance West was to perceive as much of reality as possible visually and all at once, a trait then and for centuries after the most distinctive of its culture.”

Unlike every other culture on the planet, mathematics was enthusiastically merged with measurement. And the vision of what was measurable expanded accordingly. In contrast to Pomeranz’s Great Divergence, then, Crosby would hold that the first inflection point of significant divergence of East and West occurred in the waning years of the 13th century in northern Italy. The inherent dynamism, and instability, of Europe springs from that date. Explosive (literally) military and economic changes were to come in the following centuries and the revolutionary blend of visualization and quantification was in place by the end of the 16th century in readiness for the awe-inspiring European Century of Genius in the 17th century. It was only the appearance of the Black Death in 1346 that halted the demographic and economic expansion of Europe. It may be that this social catastrophe has masked Europe’s early and profound shift, it’s almost-Exit (in the phrase of Ernst Gellner) from the economic limitations of Malthus, Hobbes, and Adam Smith. The change in mental attitude of this period, however, was irrevocable and was pushed to the farthest reaches of Europe when the Genoese successfully breeched the Straits of Gibraltar in 1291, traveling by the new-fangled cog directly and immediately to the shores of Britain, the Lowlands and the Baltic.

When the da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 1497, he did so with a kit of intellectual tools unavailable to any peoples on the Indian and Pacific Ocean. It was not just the fortuitous blend of guns, germs, and steel … or of compass, spectacles, ship construction, clocks, printing press, and double-entry accounting. It was a Neo-Platonic vision of the world as a stable, static, measurable entity … subject to investigation, understanding, and practical control. The voyagers of the era were driven by a culture deeply yearning for order, in a Europe that had wracked by the Black Death, the Hundred Years War, the Reformation and a burgeoning Ottoman Empire. And it already had 200 years of familiarity with mapping, with seeing, the world in a very new way.

Crosby makes an elegant structured argument for the reader, opening his book with the cultural enthusiasms of the late 16th century … just before the 17th “century of genius” … and then tracing the roots of that appetite for time and space measurement, for writing, printing and perspective drawing back to their origins in Europe. When he examines those origins, they all centre in the republics of northern Italy in a surprisingly narrow timeframe.

The author sets the stage with a chapter on what he calls the Venerable Model, the world view familiar to the Greeks and Romans, to Plato and Aristotle, that bears little resemblance to how modern Westerners view the world. He makes two points about this Venerable Model:

1. The ancients applied quantificational measurement more narrowly than we do, and often rejected it for some more broadly applicable techniques.

We would claim that weight, hardness, temperature ‘and other sensible contrarities’ are quantifiable, but that is not implicit either in these qualities or in the nature of the human mind.

For example, children count objects but weight and hardness are not intuitively seen by them as quantities. Spatial extension lends itself to measurement in every culture. It’s not so for hardness, heat, speed, or acceleration. Crosby believes it is very difficult to make the mental leap to quantification at early stage of history. There is a tendency instead to overdo it and go from physical properties to quantifying emotional/moral/spiritual properties, as the early Scholastics of Europe did.


Unlike Plato and Aristotle, we, with few exceptions, embrace the assumption that mathematics and the material world are immediately and intimately related. We accept as self-explanatory the fact that physics, the science of palpable reality, should be intensely mathematical. But that proposition is not self-explanatory; it is a miracle about which many sages have had their doubts.

Whether it’s Plato’s ideal forms or Aristotle’s “sounds reasonable” natural philosophy, both traditions suffered from the view that events in the natural world were only approachable through reason, and even if sense data could be trusted, the senses were feeble (and not particularly useful) instruments for examining the world. One-legged men and places where Time stopped, were logical extrapolations of a worldview that held that the senses were only suitable for local and limited knowledge-gathering.

For Crosby, the classical past’s disregard for quantification is key. When the northern Italians began applying measurement to their world with hitherto unseen enthusiasm, something changed. Suddenly Time could be apportioned and brought to heel with elaborate town clocks. And the social organization of time kept pace. In the small Europeans towns of the era, to live amongst townsfolk meant surrendering to the pacing of the town’s clock, by law. Space could not only be captured with the careful maps and “portolano” (marine charts) of the late 13th century, but with the new tools of perspective drawings. At some point during this period in Italy, the compass was placed in a protected box and given a “wind rose” of 360 degrees (c.f., Aczel, A., Riddle of the Compass), allowing a massive increase in the safety and volume of sea-borne trade. Ancient mathematics and geometry were suddenly merged with measurement, and the rediscoveries of the ancient world (carried through Islamic and Byzantine texts) created an intellectual ferment that required careful discussion and organization.

The Venetians, Genoese, and Florentines of the time were gatekeepers between western Europe, the Byzantines and the Muslim world. We now know that many European inventions had their roots in the Orient but it was the Europeans who seemed to take such initial discoveries and push them much, much further. Whether gunpowder, algebra, glass, printing, box compasses (with 360 degree headings), or stern rudders, Europeans seemed to elaborate and expand the uses of such discoveries, and permit cross-fertilization between them in unprecedented ways. Indeed, in addition to Marco Polo’s accounts of his Silk Road travels to China, its worth knowing that Europeans were traveling (as Muslims) to southeast Asia by the late 14th century and returning to publish their discoveries (e.g. Niccolo da Conti). Good ideas, often overlooked as amusements in the Orient, were making their way back to Europe with some regularity.

Crosby is “describ[ing] an acceleration after 1250 or so in the West’s shift from qualitative perception to, or at least toward, quantificational perception.” Much was happening at the time — an expansion of population, an improvement in agricultural technique and the harnessing of wind and water at a vast scale, the echoes of the Crusades on foodstuffs, styles, and the military vitality of Byzantium. The use of Arabic numerals was replacing Roman numerals in calculation. In order to accommodate the vast increase in written material, new methods of document organization and summarization (e.g. alphabetization) were being used. The first new widely circulated coinage since the late Roman era was appearing in northern Italy. One might say that all this turbulence was a sign of European dynamism, but is also reflected confusion. Many historians claim it was intra-state competition that lead to European success. Crosby wants to go one step further … to the struggle for what he calls a “New Model,” taking place amidst the significant but insufficiently revolutionary changes of the time.

At this point, he provides three detailed chapters on the shift in dealing with Time, Space, and Mathematics. These are fascinating mini-histories in their own right and certainly would give modern social psychologists pause for thought as they read about the momentous changes in measuring time and space, and then applying such abilities to trade, technology, and economic development. For the amateur reader, the surprises lie in just how late the tools of modern life were discovered or applied. If you asked the average person to guess when the plus, minus and equal signs were first used in arithmetic, one wouldn’t likely hear: 16th century England! The ability to calculate on paper, without intervention of the “counting board” or simple European abacus was a modest but important revolution in business affairs as Europe reassembled its internal trade ties. The ability to read silently, through the innovation of punctuation, lead to an immediate change in the size and nature of libraries. The “shushing” sound acquired by young librarians would appear to date from this era.

These dramatic changes are considered secondary, however, by Crosby. He seeks out the “match” that lights the fire in something more fundamental than what late medieval Italians were measuring. It is in the measuring itself and in the visualization tools created to portray that measurement that the author spots the revolutionary change. The innovations of composers, painters, and bookkeepers are far better preserved and documented than those of the era’s clockmakers, engineers, and mapmakers. It is to their efforts that Crosby turns in the second part of his book, in order to demonstrate just how profound the shift in perception was in northern Italy.

And it is in these chapters that I must plead almost total ignorance. Better minds than mine must assess Crosby’s discussion of polyphonic choir music, the shift from ars antiqua to ars nova musical styles, and the momentous implications of musical notation on the complexity and long-term maintenance of European music. Suffice it to say that Crosby writes well and clearly but readers with a musical background will find his material most inspiring. As Crosby turns to painting, I was able to follow his arguments with more personal success. The use of accurate perspective drawing influenced by, and influencing, architecture saw its first inadvertent flower with Giotto (1277-1337) but only came into prominence (and then wider obsession) in subsequent centuries. Think for a moment how constrained the evolution of natural philosophy and mechanical devices would have been in the Renaissance without the widely emulated techniques of accurate illustration, adapted for the printing presses of the 15th century. We still look on the products of the era, the illustrations in the works of Vesalius (1514-1564), for example, with justified awe. The roots of that publishable skill however began in the 15th century, some say with the publication of Alberti’s book on perspective, published in 1430 and based on Greek optical theory. Artwork of the period not only used perspective theory – construzione legittima – but “showed off” the feature in the chessboard flooring and piazzas within particular paintings. Perspective, and its execution, became seen as part of the liberal arts by the end of the century, respected for its durability, vitality and popular appeal. Painters, architects, and engineers all became obsessed with space-as-geometry and painting-as-mathematics. “Perspective, more than any other method, satisfied the new craving for exactness and predictability.” In a stroke, and with unparalleled public enthusiasm, Western art had separated itself from the traditions of other civilizations in its role and its presentation.

Professor Crosby then turns to the third of his arts illustrating the shift to quantification and visualization – bookkeeping. To the casual reader, the jump from Raphael and Dürer to the peddler diaries of the late 14th century seems rather jarring. Within a few pages, however, the author has us back in his grasp, fascinated by the story of Italian merchants adopting new methods (such as Hindu-Arabic numerals, financial instruments, and narrative books) to handle increasingly complex trading ventures. Complexities such as temporary partnerships, currency fluctuations, transshipments across political borders, raw materials passing through multiple stages in different countries before finished goods could be sold … all details that had to be tracked as carefully as possible. Some time around 1340, northern Italy began to see the first crude iterations of double-entry accounting, the process by which assets and liabilities were kept in a running tally to permit more accurate assessments of profit and loss. Such assessments were critical in the process of determining acceptable risk for the merchants of Genoa, Venice, and Florence, who were funding more and more elaborate voyages and trade obligations through a welter of private and public instruments. Double-entry accounting guaranteed clarity but not, of course, honesty. Nonetheless, merchants did gain clarity, and therefore control, over complex economic activity. As part of the era’s lust for predictability, the improved accounting methods, bridging the years of a venture’s existence, allowed time (measured by the new town clocks) to be frozen and inspected at leisure. Just as musical notation allowed the vast increase of musical repertoire, and painting allowed the freezing of a moment, a place in the mind’s eye, forever, accounting became the mundane but powerful economic quantification that permitted Italian bankers to dominate Europe for succeeding centuries. Double-entry accounting wasn’t necessary for banking (as much of the world’s, and Europe’s, history could confirm) … it just made it more profitable, more predictable, more sophisticated.

Luca Pacioli, often called father of double-entry accounting, did not actually write his guide to the technique until 1494, some two centuries after it was first used. Nonetheless, the “true Italian form” as it was known in England, was considered the gold standard for the management of business affairs. The fact that Pacioli was a court mathematician and cleric, a colleague of Leonardo da Vinci in fact, gives some sense of how completely the fascination with measurement had penetrated society. To quote Crosby:

Double-entry bookkeeping did not change the world. It was not even essential for capitalism. For example, the Fugger family made a great deal of money in the fifteenth century without resorting to it. It was not an intellectual masterpiece like Copernicus’s model of a heliocentric universe, and literati and cognoscenti have scorned bookkeepers’ ledgers as no more glorious than the sawdust and shavings on the floor of a carpenter’s shop. … But our tastes affect the development of our cultures and our societies less than our practices do. Bookkeeping has had a massive and pervasive influence on the way we think.

Double-entry bookkeeping was and is a means of soaking up and holding in suspension and then arranging and making sense out of masses of data that previously had been spilled and lost. It played an important role in enabling Renaissance Europeans and their successors in commerce, industry, and government to launch and maintain control over their corporations and bureaucracies. … The efficient friar taught us how to oblige grocery stores and nations, which are always whizzing around like hyperactive children, to stand still and be measured.

Money, Crosby points out, is never in the middle. It is a form of Manichaeism. Either existing or not.

In the past seven centuries bookkeeping has done more to shape the perceptions of more bright minds than any single innovation in philosophy or science. While few people pondered the words of René Descartes and Immanuel Kant, millions of others of yeasty and industrious inclination wrote entries in neat books and then rationalized the world to fit their books. Precision, indispensable to our science, technology, economic and bureaucratic practice, was rare in the Middle Ages, and even more rarely quantitative.

Franciscan Luca Pacioli wrote a classic of reductionism, laying out the techniques for reducing the world to pluses and minuses, for reducing the world to something visual, quantitative, and therefore understandable, and possibly controllable.

And with that poetic musing on the impact of bookkeeping, Professor Crosby wraps up his book and summarizes what the “New Model” of perceiving time, space, and material environment wrought. Vision, he notes, is a martinet, an aggressor, pushing out the other senses. It thrives on sequence … the column of numbers, the curve of the graph or painting, the “bottom line.” Space and time become geometric. Pantometry, universal measurement, becomes imaginable if not graspable.

For Crosby, it was ultimately the European approach of perceiving reality that allowed them first to reason about it and then to manipulate it with enormous skill. Their lead over other cultures and civilizations in applying this approach translated into political, economic and military might and “the rationalistic character of modern culture: precise, punctual, calculable, standard, bureaucratic, rigid, invariant, finely coordinated, and routine.”


The West in the sixteenth century was unique. It was advancing faster than any other large society in its ability to harness and control its environment. Few if any other societies equaled the West in its science and technology, its ability to project its power over long distances and to improvise new institutions and new commercial and bureaucratic techniques. The other side of that coin was the West’s instability. It shook and rattled and fizzed as if about to blow itself to pieces, which it nearly did.

The Measure of Reality is an amazingly rich book, both for its graceful compact introduction of so much technological change and for its stimulating discussion of the underlying transition and spirit of the times which had such amazing implications. It is a wonderful complement to Macfarlane’s Glass and Kelly’s Gunpowder. As with most reviews, I’ve had to sacrifice a great deal of detail in the course of summarization. Once again, perusing a library copy, I’ve been nudged to order my own copy. All the better for liberal annotation of pages throughout the book.

I can recommend this book whole-heartedly as a fascinating, and enjoyable read — and as the basis for much pondering about the significance of late 13th century Italy in the course of world history.

More narrowly, for purposes of this blog, I consider Crosby a very important work because:

1. It gives us a more creditable conceptual and historical starting point for the distinctions in East/West cognitive style described by Nisbett and indirectly documented by Surowiecki. Those particular differences aren’t inherently Anglosphere though they do appear to be variably distributed across Europe at the present time. I take it as no accident that this great shift occurred in the Italian republics of the era, and I intend a little blue-sky philosophizing on the matter in later posts.

2. It allows us to dispense with the science-technology conundrum in history — because quantification and visualization provided powerful amplifiers for technical advance without scientific methodology or even much formal logic. Europe didn’t outpace China it would seem because of science or even proto-science, but because (we may hypothesize) of a change in mentalité which not even its forebears (Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic) shared. Indeed, as we’ve seen, Crosby believes that double-entry bookkeeping was ultimately the most influential quantification technique for ordinary Western individuals … not something we usually cite as an attribute of Renaissance Man.

3. It reorients us away from ancient Greece (Nisbett’s possible error), away from the height of the Renaissance (which was replete with absolute monarchs and technical stagnation) and away from England’s Industrial Revolution (an explosive end-product of earlier Renaissance) as the source of European and Anglosphere exceptionalism. In looking more closely at the late medieval period: its Italian republics, its seminal discoveries in so many areas, its new methods of transportation, navigation, and finance, and its critical extrapolations of Asian discoveries, we spot the technological origins (in specifics and mentalité) that shape the modern Western world.

4. It appears to document a pre-Renaissance inflection point, or historical nexus, out of which so much knowledge from the ancient world was recast in terms which later eras could make use. The fact that this nexus occurred in a relatively brief time period and was the product of small Italian republics at the interface of the Norman, Byzantine, and Muslim worlds makes it all the more cogent for our consideration of the role of Saxon individualism in the next republics responsible for technical, political, and economic breakthroughs (Dutch and English). The strong maritime ties between Venice, Genoa and England/Ireland during this momentous shift from Venerable to New Model are well documented.

5. Drawing this information together, then, we might recast our understanding of the Anglosphere. Its mentalité or perceptual modernity is an direct ship-borne inheritance of late medieval Italy. Its Saxon individualism and geographic position, however, ensured that the republican and trading disposition of the nation could best apply those newly available tools of quantification and visualization without continental predation. Venice and Genoa were to fall under the thumb of continental autarchs, while England and its Dutch neighbour were able to leverage New Model content and method in a dynamic and productive political environment. Taking over from the Spanish and Portuguese in the late 16th century, the Dutch and English were to span the globe for the next four centuries.


Table of Contents

Part One Pantometry Achieved

1 Pantometry: An Introduction [3]
2 The Venerable Model [21]
3 Necessary but Insufficient Causes [49]
4 Time [75]
5 Space [95]
6 Mathematics [109]

Part Two Striking the Match: Visualization

7 Visualization: An Introduction [129]
8 Music [139]
9 Painting [165]
10 Bookkeeping [199]

Part Three Epilogue

11 The New Model [227]

6 thoughts on “Crosby – The Measure of Reality – Quantification and Western Society 1250-1600”

  1. My advisor used to say that if you can’t put a number to it, it’s not science. That is the difference between Natural History and science. Natural History has its place, and is not as widely regarded as it should be in biology, but science is measurement.

    One piece of the puzzle for the European explosion has to be the balance between competition and cohesiveness in Europe’s politics. States vied with each other economically, politically, and militarily, and this facilitates progress. Italy’s regional divisions played a similar role in the Renaissance. China’s culture valued social cohesion over scientific debate, and the centralized power in that civilization squashed a lot of innovation.

    In Europe, an innovator stifled by politics could easily move to another state with a less rigid view, which encouraged competition. This was not a great political structure to have in the face of the Turks, and you can see the problem of too much independence and power given to individual petty governments in the partitions of Poland. But competition in the realm of ideas is necessary for long-term progress. The competitive system just has to be protected from short-term existential threats such as the Turks.

  2. James, thanks.

    As is usually the case with James’ posts, it is best to cut and paste this into a Word document and print it out to read. At 10 pages and 4,600 words, it deserves to be treated as the article (rather than “post”) that it is.

  3. Incidentally, it has been suggested to me that I was being somehow flippant or disparaging in saying that James’ articles should be printed out and read that way rather than on the screen.

    By no means.

    I think James’ contribution has been extraordinary, and I do quite literally cut-and-paste the longer pieces into a Word doc and print them so they are easier to read.

    No kidding.

  4. Thanks James. As usual, you are print-worthy.
    And thanks for the review.

    I, too, print out James’s rewiews & other lengthier ones, such as John Jay’s. My husband seldom reads blogs but is a big admirer of Bennett & other Anglosphere approaches, so I pile up print-outs next to his pillow. Of course, I’m an idiot and tend to print them out as they are – which wastes good paper. Lex clearly has more common sense.

  5. Lex, as do I. I print them in 7 pt font two columns, landscape. That usually reduces them to 2 or 3 pages that can be folded up for my shirt pocket to be read whenever I have unexpected free time. Makes it easier to jot marginal notes and save after reading

  6. 7 pt is too tiny for my eyeballs. I’m more likely to print it out in 14 pt because 12 is too small But, hey, whatever works for you.

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