03 October 2005

Guide to reading Statalist with Gmail

Statalist is a mailing list for users of the Stata statistical package. To subscribe to Statalist, send an e-mail message to majordomo@hsphsun2.harvard.edu, with the text "subscribe statalist" (without quotes) in the body of the message.

In Gmail all messages are displayed with a variable-width font by default. This can make Statalist messages hard to read if they contain tables that only lign up properly with a fixed-width font. Here is a typical Stata table:
    Variable |       Obs        Mean    Std. Dev.       Min        Max
age | 11258 10.46394 2.277534 7 14
school | 11209 .7712552 .4200433 0 1
In Gmail the same table would be displayed like this:

    Variable |       Obs        Mean    Std. Dev.       Min        Max
         age |     11258    10.46394    2.277534          7         14
      school |     11209    .7712552    .4200433          0          1

Gmail has no setting to change the font but users of the Firefox browser can overcome this limitation by editing the file userContent.css in their Firefox profile. If the file userContent.css does not exist you can create a text file with that name and save it in your profile folder. This and other profile files can also be edited easily with the chromEdit extension for Firefox.

Adding the lines below to userContent.css overrides the Gmail settings for non-HTML mail and all simple text messages are then displayed with a fixed-width font.
div.msg div.mb {
font-family: monospace !important;
font-size: 12px !important;
textarea.tb {
font-family: monospace !important;
font-size: 12px !important;
td.ct {
font-family: monospace !important;
font-size: 12px !important;
The procedure is described in more detail on the site of Michael Gauthier, where I learned about this approach.

Update (22 June 2008)

As of June 2008, the instructions above are obsolete. Google has added a "Fixed width font" option to Gmail. To activate this feature, follow these steps:
  • In Gmail, click on "Settings".
  • In the Settings menu, click on "Labs".
  • Look for the "Fixed width font" option and select "Enable".
  • Click on "Save Changes".
To read a message in fixed width font, open the message, click on the "Reply" drop-down menu in the upper right corner of the message, and select "Show in fixed width font".

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Friedrich Huebler, 3 October 2005 (edited 22 June 2008), Creative Commons License


Friedrich Huebler said...

Chris, thank you for the links.

halali said...

The old feed isn't working. I created a new one simply go to http://statalistrss.blogspot.com

The associated google group works better than gmail - try it..