Wall of Text
aka: Too Long Didnt Read
Shakespeare wrote that "brevity is the soul of wit." He did not then add "unless you're writing a webcomic." It applies to everything, and don't tell me you're arrogant enough to claim to know better than Shakespeare.
A paragraph should ideally be a smooth, succinct experience that goes through a bit of exposition, illustrates an idea, sums up the point, and primes the reader for the next paragraph.
In practice, a writer can get too caught up in all the things they have to say and fail to organize it all into bits an ordinary human being would be able to digest. The end result is a huge run-on paragraph that makes it difficult to recall the original point of it, if there was one in the first place. The reader's eyes glaze over and all they see is a Wall of Text
This afflicts all written media, but it is particularly infamous for its effect on Comic Books
. One of the first things learned in comics is how to use dialogue bubbles effectively; a writer not allocating space carefully will end up covering their panel with a bunch of text and white space. Eventually the reader will realize that they're just looking at plain text rather than the vivid form of storytelling by imagery that comic books are famed for.
At best, a Wall of Text
is just a signal of really heavy exposition. At worst, they are a warning sign that the author is soapboxing about something
If Speech Bubbles Interruption
are used to show it's not being listened to, see Wall of Blather
. If the text is literally
written on a wall in-universe, it might be a Room Full of Crazy
. See Read The Fine Print
if these kinds of text actually contain very important information. Ominous Multiple Screens
is sort-of the video equivalent.
examples right in This Very Wiki
, observe the venerable entrants of Trope Overdosed
open/close all folders
- Parodied in the Mac ad Legal Copy when PC starts making claims about his performance, causing a disclaimer to appear on-screen. Said disclaimer becomes bigger and bigger throughout the commercial, ending with PC saying "PCs are now 100% trouble-free!" causing the disclaimer to fill the whole screen.
- A meta example happens in Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu. The class takes a trip out to the local forests in order for the students to draw artworks of nature. One of the professors who accompanies the students constantly goes on a wild tangent discussing the philosophical relationships between science, nature, art, and well... lets just say a lot of Big Words are used in a very, very fast manner. The official subtitles literally takes up the ENTIRE SCREEN when he's ranting.
Films — Live-Action
- The opening crawl of Alone in the Dark (2005).
- In the documentary Crumb, Robert Crumb flips through his brother's old amateur comics to show the brother's mental breakdown. With each page, the drawings become more and more pushed back by larger and larger bubbles crammed with text, until finally the drawings are discarded and Crumb is just flipping through page after page of microscopic text. It's quite creepy.
- Works from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries tended towards this, with paragraphs that sometimes ran for pages; remodeling these walls for modern printings isn't an option, however, since they were frequently single sentences with dozens of clauses and semicolon cancer out the wazu, preventing stylistic renovations without violating rules against line breaks in the middle of a sentence. Often this was because the authors were paid by the word.
- Charles Dickens's style is quite wordy.
- Henry James's style includes almost impenetrably long sentences and paragraphs.
- Hardly anybody in the Anne of Green Gables series is as prone to this as Anne herself, who, especially in the first book, has a tendency to ramble on for pages (longer when Marilla is not there to interrupt her). Fortunately for both the characters' sanity and our own, Marilla constantly lampshades this, leading to amusing scenes where Marilla tells Anne to stop talking, whereupon Anne starts to go off on a tangent about how hard it is for her shut up ... and then gets distracted and starts building an ironic Wall of Text.
- The novel The Rotter's Club has a sentence that is apparently 13,955 words long.
- Most people's first impression of The Bible.
- The book Ulysses ends with two sentences in its final chapter. The first one is 11,281 words long and the second is 12,931 words long.
- Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago loved to do this. Do not try to imitate him; he got a Nobel for a reason.
- The literary style of maximalism emphasizes the author writing down everything that crosses his/her mind in the interest of painting a more "complete" picture of the author's/character's mindset.
- In The Reptile Room, the narrator fills an entire page with the word "ever" over and over and over again when telling the reader not to fiddle around with electric devices unless they're Violet Baudelaire.
- In Emma, Miss Bates' speeches always become this to both the readers and the characters.
- Atlas Shrugged. A certain someone smacks the reader in the face with a massive monologue made of capitalism; the first edition counted it at 70 pages.
- House of Leaves has some Wall of Text passages that are deliberate - they illustrate a character (who, arguably, never had his shit completely together to begin with) slowly going crazier and crazier and talking and writing in more of a stream-of-consciousness style as his sanity leaves him. It's not pretty, and it's not supposed to be.
- One Whose Line Is It Anyway? "Let's Make a Date" game gave Wayne a very complicated role to play (something pretty close to "smooth rap star blindfolded and tied to the bed by his girlfriend gradually realizing the night is going terribly wrong"). When Greg saw the card (about 8"x8"), his reaction was a stunned "There's two paragraphs of text on this!"
- The guessing-game personalities when Whose Line started in Britain were extremely simple ("a pirate," etc.), and gradually became longer and more convoluted over the next 18 seasons.
- Similar to below (though not to the same extent) the manga Bakuman。 often has walls of text. To the point that chapters can often boil down to the heroes talking about manga.
- The Death Note manga can be particularly guilty of this at times. In the later volumes of the manga, the characters spend a ton of time out-thinking each other in a 3-way cat-and-mouse game, and all of the text used for that can be jarring, even though it's essential. To make it worse, it's complex enough that, if you blink and miss a crucial detail, you're totally lost.
- As a self-styled modern day Sherlock Holmes, Detective Conan more often than not feature walls (and walls and walls) of text while pulling the thread to reveal who did it. Kindaichi can be just as wordy, but he at least has the courtesy to break up his walls of text.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! often falls into this, and even plays this one for comedy once, having Yue go off on lengthy Expo Speak tangents only to discover no one was listening.
- Hakase also goes into a long rant with a speech bubble the size of your fist filled with tiny writing where she babbles to herself about Chachamaru's emotions.
- Also when a scared-stiff Yue described the various impossibilities of the really, really big
dragon wyvern that was just about to eat her and Nodoka, ending with, "wait, what am I saying?"
- Medaka Box's Emukae has a whole double page spread◊, consisting of 4 massive text bubbles the size of your hand, going on and on about how she wants to marry Hitoyoshi and have babies with him and have a nice big house and some pets and...
- The Moyashimon manga features truly stupendous examples every single volume, complete with shrinking Fonts, characters crowded into tiny gaps between speech bubbles, and explanatory notes in page gutters. These are usually Professor Itsuki indulging in a Character Filibuster about science, or more specifically fermentation.
- Liar Game is mostly a story about chessmasters who try to beat each other in different "games" to see who is the best Magnificent Bastard. To do so, they use gambits after gambits based on game theories, psychology, economics, social studies and more. While they take the time to explain everything clearly, a certain knowledge of these subjects greatly helps to understand.
- Played for Laughs in a Soul Eater extra chapter (later adapted into an anime Breather Episode) with Excalibur giving another rambling story which takes up half a page that the author specifically tells us to skip because it's so annoying.
- Level E contains a couple examples of this. Here's one of the more gruesome ones. And yes, you have to read it all (or at least skim it) to understand the plot that is going on.
- Happens on The Other Wiki occasionally, more in the obscure-ish pages than others. Plot summaries can fall into this trap, especially if it gets overly detailed.
- RPers in text chat based media (SL, IRC, Instant Messaging, Etc) will often call others out (Often jokingly) on Walls of text. Happens most often when you get people who like long posts mixed with people who make short posts. Often happens in the reverse as well if others harassing people in a more harsh way for posts that aren't long enough.
- An audiophile magazine featured an article lamenting the overuse of compression — making the louds quieter and the quiets louder to even out the dynamic range of a recording. (There's even a term for it, it's "Loudness War".) Compression is useful for "punching up" the sound of a given track, since it evens out the dynamics and lets an engineer raise the volume without causing clipping. However, some modern recordings go a bit overboard with this.
THE ARTICLE THEN PROCEEDED TO DEMONSTRATE THE PROBLEM OF EXCESSIVE COMPRESSION WITH A PARAGRAPH WRITTEN ENTIRELY WITH ALLCAPS AND AS FEW LINE BREAKS AS POSSIBLE. GIVEN THAT ALL CAPITAL LETTERS ARE THE SAME HEIGHT, IT MAKES FOR ONE LONG MASS OF LETTERS THAT BECOME HARD TO READ THROUGH AND TIRES THE EYE OUT FROM HAVING TO MENTALLY SORT IT OUT AND INSERT LINE BREAKS. SIMILARLY, COMPRESSING EVERYTHING TO DEATH ELIMINATES THE DYNAMIC INTERPLAY OF THE VARIOUS INSTRUMENTS AND CREATES A MUDDLE WHERE EVERYTHING IS LOUD BUT NOTHING STANDS OUT, LIKE SOMEONE SHOUTING OVER A STRONG WIND. DYNAMIC INTERPLAY IS A KEY PART OF A LISTENABLE RECORDING: MOST POP MUSIC RECORDINGS TEND TO FOCUS ON VOCALS FIRST, FOLLOWED BY MELODIC ACCOMPANIMENT AND THE RHYTHM SECTION IS UNDERNEATH IT ALL TO SERVE AS A FOUNDATION UPON WHICH THE REST OF THE SONG IS PLACED, AND IT SHOULD BE APPARENT YET UNOBTRUSIVE; TO DO OTHERWISE MAKES IT SOUND BAD. NEVERTHELESS, THIS TECHNIQUE IS APPARENTLY MANDATED BY SUITS AT THE LABELS WHO BELIEVE THAT, SINCE IT MAKES THINGS SOUND LOUDER, IT WILL MAKE THEIR SONGS STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD ON THE RADIO, SORT OF LIKE HOW TV COMMERCIALS ARE LOUDER THAN REGULAR PROGRAMMING. UNFORTUNATELY, THIS LINE OF THINKING HAS TWO MAJOR FLAWS: IT CREATES AN UNLISTENABLE AMORPHOUS BLOB OF AUDIO THAT PEOPLE DO NOT WANT TO HEAR AND WHEN EVERYONE ELSE DOES THE EXACT SAME THING, NOBODY'S UNLISTENABLE AMORPHOUS BLOB OF AUDIO STANDS OUT ABOVE ANYONE ELSE'S.
The metaphor proved to be a bit too apt, as the magazine then received a ton of letters to the editor complaining that they couldn't read the article because it was, well, a wall of text.
- Textbooks. Some college texts books that are literally solid walls of text that go for pages with no pictures, diagrams, or even paragraph breaks. And the text is usually really tiny.
- Manual pages for Linux/Unix commands are notorious for this.
- European Spanish magazines and newspapers tend to be wordier than their Latin American counterparts, since Spaniards love detailed explanations. On the other side, Mexican magazines and newspapers (with few exceptions) generally try to get to the point more quickly than the European Spanish ones.
- Marathon 2: Durandal features a terminal in the level Kill Your Television with no spaces or punctuation deliberately to be cryptic and vague. Fans did decrypt the message, but, in typical old-school Bungie fashion, it still didn't make much sense.
- If you make a rather wordy post on the City of Heroes forum, some people will complain they were killed by your wall of text. Some Trolls will engage in wall of text contests to see if they can overload the forum display.
Wall of Text crits you for 9999
You cannot use that power after you have been defeated.
You cannot use that power after you have been defeated.
- This happens on other forums as well: on World of Warcraft's official forums, people use TL;DR (Too long; didn't read) both offensively and defensively; someone building a wall of text will add "TL;DR version: Stuff", and people protesting will post just TL;DR. Sometimes people will lampshade their own wall building; one added "Edit: Remodeled Wall of Text, adding a door, a couple of windows and some nice flowerboxes" after breaking it up into paragraphs.
- But this can also be subverted when readers simply didn't bother to read a long post. "TL;DR" can basically mean: "Your well thought out, and valid post was just too long to read, so I didn't bother."
- The Neverhood has a literal wall of text: the hall of Records, thirty-eight screens full of text for Klaymen to read, detailing the game's vast backstory in a format spoofing that of The Bible. Fortunately, reading any of the text is optional, although the game does force you to trek through the entire hall to fetch a Plot Coupon.
- Sacred 2: Fallen Angel doesn't have extensive voice acting for many of its NPCs. In particular, NPCs that give you quests (which usually boil down to go here and kill five wolves), will preface this with a page and a half of scrolled text detailing exactly why they want you to this. And if you're not playing on an HDTV, you won't be able to read a word of it.
- In one stage of Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 2, Gatchan lets off two consecutive blocks of texts so big that they obscure your vision. Taken Up to Eleven in Maximum Tune 3 and its upgrades, where not only does he have four blocks of text, he has the gall to say them NEAR THE END OF THE STAGE, making you more likely to lose.
- In the early text-based game Colossal Cave, the description of the volcano.
- It is apparently a popular joke in Touhou doujinshi to have Nitori or someone else go to lengthy descriptions (usually of technology) to the other characters who more likely than not are not actually listening. One doujin parodied it by having Alice get pushed against a wall by the huge speech bubble.
- In Minecraft, due to the lack of usable books or notes (Until 1.3), most downloadable scenarios, public servers, etc. will leave introductory text written on signs attached to walls near the initial spawn point. This results in literal walls of text.
- Kaepora Gaebora, the blabbering owl from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. He shows up to give you pages and pages of trivial information that is usually useless. The slow text-scrolling speed is far from helpful. At the end, he asks you if you want to hear his advice all over again. Be forewarned that the cursor will always default to "Yes". God help you if you were mashing the A button throughout his blabbering.
- In Suikoden V, you must recruit Egbert by enduring his wall of text complaining about the Godwins. You can't press the button to advance the text, and the text moves slowly on purpose.
- In Fate/stay night, Kotomine and Rin are prone to expository lectures, Kotomine describing the functions and history of the Grail Wars, Rin less frequently on the mechanics of magic. Many Chekovs Guns have been obscured in the pages of pages of text, and the voice-acted version hardly saved them. This was impatiently Lampshaded by Shirou's internal monologue in the final arc: "Doesn't he ever shut up?"
- When Rin in Katawa Shoujo starts rambling, it's shown in the largest and fullest textbox in the game. With barely if any punctuation.
- Webcomics usually lampshade their frequent large blocks of exposition, often in the narration or titling:
- This is a criticism often levelled at Ctrl+Alt+Del. In fact, a certain Image Board came up with something called "CAD Rule" — the law that if you take the first panel and the last panel of a Ctrl+Alt+Del strip, remove the text from the last panel, and post it, it will automatically be much funnier, as this strip "shows".
- 8-Bit Theater does this a lot, like in this strip. Note the title of the strip itself. And yes, there are more extreme ones.
- Goodwill Heroes had an instance where the Librarian belittled the main cast for raising their voices in a library.
- xkcd once had a wall of text that broke the frame of the comic.
- Dresden Codak has been accused of this ever since Aaron Diaz added an actual plot. Possibly the strongest case can be found here.
- Triangle and Robert once had a main character killed by a Wall of Text exposition, here and here.
- Silent Hill: Promise The comic, like the adventure games it apes, supplements the images with plenty of narration.
- Something Positive has a bad case of this; ironically this is more noticeable since the comic is drawn to allow ample space from them, and is a good indication to the presence of strawmen. One particularly egregious example is lampshaded with the following:
The following comic contains a lot of words. Those who are frightened or intimidated by reading are encouraged to seek entertainment elsewhere. We recommend a shiny ball of foil
- Irregular Webcomic! made fun of this trope here. Notable that it use the strings of text as a way to make fun of the trope instead of having some sort of Lampshade Hanging outside the strings of text.
- Subnormality is walls of text (except when it's Textplosion... Or totally wordless). It's right there in the sub-title: "Comix with too many words since 2007."
- This trope is referenced by name at the start of this strip.
- This is the most excessive example of Wall of Text ever seen. 19 panels. 2500 words.
- The Order of the Stick actually played this one staggeringly straight in this comic. Though it did throw in Lampshade Hanging: Vaarsuvius, king (or queen) of overtalking, complains about the brevity — when you think about it, really quite a valid complaint in a trial.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja stuck this on Frans Rayner when he explains his sinister plan in immense detail. Lampshaded in the alt text for the page where the author congratulates the reader for making it all the way through.
- Errant Story, although it does manage to pull it off quite well with the storytelling style.
- This is a common criticism of Better Days (No relation), made only worse when it turns up in the supplementary porn comics.
- Generally averted in Sordid City Blues, except for this little beauty.
- Not From Concentrate: "Firetruck Red!!"
- This comic has a rather incoherent wall of text that is probably supposed to emulate background noise. The author herself comments that "Yeah, if you read EVERYTHING Ms. Florence is saying, you're insane."
- Precocious plays this for laughs. It happens whenever Suzette goes into a rant (could be about anything from her Straw Feminist philosophies to someone forgetting her name and believing it to be snobbery)
- One of the many, MANY criticisms of Sonichu, as elaborated on here.
- In Pastel Defender Heliotrope, and possibly every other Jennifer Diane Reitz work, everyone communicates via text walls. Every page, every panel, every word bubble. There are enough walls of texts in there to keep out Mongol invaders!
- Captain Obvious in The Way of the Metagamer combines these with Department of Redundancy Department.
- Far Out There had a very bad case of this in its early days. Thankfully, the author is gradually learning to show, not tell.
- Though most walls of exposition are stowed away in boxes below the comic rather than panel bubbles, Homestuck has more than its share of walls of text. The Hivebent arc, in particular, has been described by Andrew Hussie as "a very vividly illustrated e-novel", rather than a webcomic.
- In Act 6 Act 3, Homestuck actively defends its method of long-winded narration by having a new character who hates long stories tell her arc in bullet points and skip straight to the end, depriving the reader of almost all the interesting details. A second character, pissed off at this display of storytelling, decides to recap the Ancestor Arc in the same bullet style, showing that while the initial version of that arc was fairly long-winded, the bullet-point style turns every character into a one-dimensional plot device and turns the narrative into a terribly-paced Random Events Plot.
- Once used in At Arms Length as as weapon against Ally.
- In one Questionable Content strip, Hannelore's Internal Monologue turns into one of these. By panel 3 there's too much to fit even with the text wrapping around her head.
- Bleedman, aka Vinson Ngo, is usually guilty of this in his webcomics when it comes to exposition. Grims Tales and Sugar Bits in particular.
- Parodied in this strip from Sketch Comedy discussing video games as a storytelling medium.
- In early chapters of Lightbringer, many characters would go on rants about one philosophical belief or another. Sometimes this would take up almost an entire page.
- I have SuperNatural Wisdom.
NO God mentality can Know my 4 Day Cube.
No Bible Word equals my TimeCubed Earth.
— Dr. Gene Ray, Cubic and Wisest Human
- The posts that Sean Malstrom has on his blog tend to vary in length, but when they get long, they get long. As in, upwards of 14,000 words. He sometimes posts several of these in one day.
- The Black Sand Bar, full stop. 
- Geek Rage has this as its basic mode.
- The Global Guardians PBEM Universe was a set of email campaigns, and some of the player's were very enthusiastic participants. This happened a lot.
- The Onion's articles Nation Shudders at Large Block of Uninterrupted Text and Frustrated Obama Sends Nation Rambling 75,000-Word E-Mail
- Video game blogger Tim Rogers is infamous for producing these, and in fact takes pride in it. If pressed to justify his extreme verbosity, his explanations vary from "it's just trolling" to "it's a legitimate style and you can take it or leave it".
- Discussed in an episode of Chowder where the title character tries to publish a magazine whose cover consists of one of these and is genuinely shocked to learn that a cover with a picture is more likely to attract potential buyers.
- Inverted in The Simpsons, where the quote at the top of the page is reduced to "Brevity is [...] wit" at a Reader's Digest essay contest.
- Due to outdated equipment that attempts to save on memory and bandwidth, official messages within the U.S. Coast Guard (and possibly other branches of the military) tend to be eye-crossing, migraine-creating, acronym-laden all-caps nightmares.
- Here's a sample from one (imagine trying to read multiple pages of this): SUBJ: REVISED CUTTER FUEL INVENTORY REPORT REQUIREMENTS A. SUPPLY POLICY AND PROCEDURES MANUAL, COMDTINST M4400.19 1. PURPOSE: ACCURATELY REPORTING FUEL CONSUMPTION IS AN IMPORTANT ELEMENT TO ENSURING ALL OBLIGATIONS AND EXPENDITURES ARE RECORDED IN THE COAST GUARD FINANCIAL SYSTEM, A VITAL STEP IN ACHIEVING CFO AUDIT SUCCESS. THIS MESSAGE UPDATES THE STANDARDIZED FUEL REPORT MESSAGE FORMAT AND PROVIDES SUGGESTIONS TO REDUCE COMMON REPORTING ERRORS. IT ALSO ESTABLISHES NEW LINE ITEMS IN THE REPORT TO INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING MONTH'S ESTIMATED FUEL CONSUMPTION, WHICH WILL ASSIST IN IMPROVING THE ACCURACY OF COAST GUARD FINANCIAL STATEMENTS, END OF YEAR PIPELINE, AND CFO AUDIT COMPLIANCE. EVERY EFFORT WAS MADE TO ENSURE REPORTING REQUIREMENTS MINIMIZE, TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE, IMPACT TO CUTTER WORKLOAD.
- Every last usage license agreement. Ever. Including the one that is the picture at the time of this writing.
- Pretty much every educator in Public Speaking or similar will strongly warn you against letting this happen to your slide show presentations that you make in Powerpoint or similar software. Instead it's preferred that you combined small doses of text such as bulleted lists with graphical visual aids, and let your actual speech be solely responsible for any InfoDumping that you need to do.
- Unix manual pages. This eventually got so bad that a new system, info, was invented. And there was much rejoicing amongst the TTY jockeys.
- The incoherent, babbling, jargon-filled mess that is the job description critiqued in this blog article, and it isn't exactly helped by some of the worst grammar to ever exist in something that was supposed to attract people to the job: three full stops in the entire block of text, random capitalisation and abuse of apostrophes. This borderline Word Salad was more likely to have put people off applying than it was to generate recruits.