If someone subscribes to many feeds, they're often scanning up and down long lists of item titles, so it's best to keep titles brief. In fact, brevity goes not just for individual item titles, but for channel titles as well.
For example, take a look at the following RSS document, in which the item has a long title:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?> <rss version="2.0"> <channel> . . . <image> <title>Steve's News</title> <url>http://www.rssmaniac.com/steve/Image.jpg</url> <link>http://www.rssmaniac.com/steve</link> <description>Steve's News</description> <width>144</width> <height>36</height> </image> <item> <title>Steve shovels the snow, which might now be turning to rain, and who knows what's next.</title> <description><![CDATA[It snowed once again. Time to shovel!]]></description> <pubDate>Thu, 08 Dec 2005 08:39:51 -0500</pubDate> <link>http://www.rssmaniac.com/steve</link> </item> . . . </channel> </rss>
That long title might not be apparent when you're writing your feed. However, when you're viewing the RSS feed, it's much more of a problemtake a look at the item's title in the title list (Figure 10.5).
Figure 10.5. Try to keep your feed's titles short.
You should also keep descriptions from getting too long. Most of your readers want just enough information to get the gist of the article; if they want more information, they'll click the link.
How short is short enough? That's up to you, although you might find some recommendations online. For example, Paul Miller of UKOLN (www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue35/miller/) offers these guidelines: "Restrict RSS feeds intended for embedding in external Web sites, portals, etc. to not more than six <item>s, each with <description>s of up to 50 words in length." And he says this about channel titles and descriptions: "Restrict <channel> titles to less than six words, descriptions to less than 15 words, and images to less than 90 pixels along the longest side."