Wall of Text
aka: Walls Of Text
"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
Speaking In Panels
is often a way to evade this trope while recounting what happened.
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.
- Provided by Genos in One Punch Man. Wondering how an origin story sounds like without a flasback ? Now you know.
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; in serial works, editors wouldn't cut off in the middle of a sentence.
- Charles Dickens's style is quite wordy. The discussion Scrooge has with Marley in A Christmas Carol is very short by his standards.
- 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 the readers', 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 genealogies are necessary to trace Jesus' ancestry, but they are long.
- 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.
- Another Nobel Prize In Literature : Camilo José Cela wrote a novel made up exclusively of a single sentence lasting more than 100 pages: Cristo versus Arizona.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Robinson Crusoe has sentences that go on for more then a page at a time, with heavy use of semicolons instead of periods. Check it out here.
- Whose Line Is It Anyway?:
- One "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 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 four 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.
- Also Played for Laughs in One Punch Man when Genos introduces himself without an accompanying flashback. Saitama tells him to come back when he can summarise everything in one sentence of max ten words.
- 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.
- 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.
- The original version of Space Station 13 had an infamously long and excessively complex backstory. It was so lengthy and impractical that most people just ignored the backstory completely. Some time later, the devs of the Goonstation server made up a much better received backstory that was much shorter and a little more to the point.
- 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.
- 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".
- 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.
- 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.
- South Park pokes fun at the trope by having Kyle and two other people being imprisoned by Apple for experiments because they signed the agreement when their software had updated, even though Kyle and the others couldn't be bothered to read the ELUA due to the massive text walls.
- 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.
- A lot of the last usage licenses are like this.
- 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.
- Most contracts and user agreements. Unfortunately, 'I didn't read the contract! It was too long!' won't do you any good in court.note .
- Programming can get this way if you don't use white space properly, good luck trying to debug otherwise.
- Students that are new college tend to type their reports without formatting for paragraphs or don't use enough paragraphs, which can result in several pages of text walls. Professors of higher level classes may dock points off their students' papers for poor formatting since it makes it difficult for the professor to read the report to see what the student's main ideas are.