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横書きと縦書き Is there a preference for usage? I noticed that Japanese is written horizontally and vertically.

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I prefer reading horizontal writing! :)

Right. Based on a cursory look at the books on my wife's bookshelf, as well as what I generally encounter in day-to-day life, my observation is that vertical writing is more prevalent for long-form printed material -- novels, manga, newspapers, and the majority of magazines all use 縦書き.

On the other hand, flyers, (school or company) handouts, and notices predominantly use 横書き.

And then there's the best (or worst) of both worlds: both in the same publication. This is pretty common in magazines, where the main article will be in 縦書き, with picture captions, some headlines, and quotes from the article will written horizontally, an approach also found in a lot of non-fiction books, especially those that rely on a lot of visuals.

For handwritten notes, horizontal writing is pretty much the norm unless you're using 原稿用紙 or doing calligraphy.

Those are just trends I've noticed, however, and I don't have any hard numbers to back them up.

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Text printed in horizontal lines read right-to-left used to be common up to the 1940s but is now pretty much (perhaps entirely) confined to ultra-conservative/extreme right-wing political material, such as the posters, usually printed in red and black, that you see pasted on walls and utility poles. One exception to this rule: names of ships, and company names, etc, on the sides of vehicles, are written from front to rear, so that on the right-hand side they read right-left.

  • Not really an answer to the question as stated, but super interesting. – Williham Totland Jun 29 '17 at 17:02
  • Glad you enjoyed it. – Graham Healey Jun 29 '17 at 20:16
  • 好かなかれも大切なことあるじゃ。 – Williham Totland Jun 29 '17 at 20:22
  • I don't feel good about that; what I was trying to say was "Whether or not I like the answer it hits important points.", but I really don't know if I actually said that. – Williham Totland Jun 29 '17 at 20:28
  • @William Tolland - I hope I didn't sound sarcastic. I am genuinely pleased when people appear to have found a contribution of mine interesting. Best wishes. – Graham Healey Jun 30 '17 at 7:47
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Sure!

Whatever you prefer.

;-)

Seriously, though, historically it was mostly top-to-bottom, right-to-left.

Nowadays, it's, well, whatever is convenient, which is mostly left-to-right, top-to-bottom. But computer software that makes it fairly easy to go top-to-bottom is improving, so the convenience factor is shifting back a little.

Formal documents do tend more to be top-to-bottom.

If you search the web for 「縦書き」、 you will see that there is a Wikipedia article:

https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%B8%A6%E6%9B%B8%E3%81%8D%E3%81%A8%E6%A8%AA%E6%9B%B8%E3%81%8D

and if you look at that you will see that there is an English page linked:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horizontal_and_vertical_writing_in_East_Asian_scripts

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縦書きと横書き Is there a preference for usage?

Yes or No.
Basically it depends on your preference but usually the circumstances makes you write horizontally even if you don't prefer.

I have a reason to say so.

As you know the horizontal writing in dominant in Japan except for special purpose. The main reason is that it is suitable for notation of science such as mathematical formulas. Once written horizontally, we noticed that it is indispensable not only in the world of science but also the world of usual Japanese combined with English, music scores etc. which are inevitable to be written horizontally, so it is basically an indispesable and convenient way of writing now in Japan.

The exceptional use mentioned above is basically a traditional art such as literary works of novels etc, Japanese language textbooks and Japanese ancient literature expressions such as haiku poems, and calligraphy. One modern application that allows Japanese to be written vertically is when you need to write phrases or characters/letters in long vertical margins. Even though Japanese could be written vertically on utility poles, pillars or vertically long signboards without any toubles, I feel superiority when I see that English is written on such places rotated by 90 degrees.

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