In an English text document with fixed 92 character line breaks, what is the probability that at least one line will be exactly 92 characters long?

The document is 125 lines.

I want to determine how reliably I can determine column width by examining the existing document contents.

I have no idea where to start.


1 Answer 1


You need the distribution of the number of letters in a word in English where a word that has a trailing punctuation mark adds one letter. For example, if every word were $5$ letters long except for the last word of a sentence words would always end at $5 \bmod 6$ letters and you would never have a line come out even. Given the distribution of word lengths you could then figure out the chance a line comes out even. You could do even better if you knew the distribution of pairs of words. I suspect that if you have a one letter word the next word is more rarely two letters (although I am is reasonably common) than normal.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.