When writing technical documents and different "guides", sometimes you need to explain or simply mention a reason or justification of a particular requirement or recommendation. Which word would you use as a "label" for such explanations? An example:

Maximum number of characters per line: 72 or 78.

Reason: This is exactly a line of 6 or 6.5 inches if using a 12-pitch font.

The word "reason" is used as an example, I'm not sure it really works here, and I'm not sure it will work good in a broader set of cases. Maybe "reasoning" or something different? I'm not a native speaker.

  • 3
    If you are looking for a noun, then possibly rationale, or explanation?
    – Billy Kerr
    Jul 12, 2023 at 9:06
  • Rationale is definitely common, e.g. "standards, especially those intended to support critical applications, should define explicitly both the properties expected to accrue from use of the standard and an explicit rationale that justifies the contents of the standard." Here.
    – Stuart F
    Jul 12, 2023 at 14:42
  • [work well, not good] Reason works fine.
    – Lambie
    Jul 12, 2023 at 17:24

1 Answer 1



Merriam-Webster defines it:

1 : an explanation of controlling principles of opinion, belief, practice, or phenomena

In this context, you are giving an explanation of the controlling phenomenon, which is the length of a line of text.

This term is quite common when something like a guiding principle requires a rational basis and we anticipate this basis will not be readily clear.

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