@ Sebastian Bacher: I found an existing bug report about this problem at Gnome 
Bugzilla, and I added my comment to it:
The report and the latest comment are a year and a half old, but the bug is 
marked as new. I guess it's better not to expect a quick patch. 

@ dino99: Thanks for the workaround, dino99. It alleviated the problem
somewhat. It would help more if I'd decrease the font size further, but
the text would get too small then.

** Bug watch added: GNOME Bug Tracker #745968

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  Narrow spacing of icons in Files affects file names

Status in nautilus package in Ubuntu:

Bug description:
  When I upgraded to Ubuntu 16.10 beta a few days ago, horizontal
  distance between icons in Files and on the desktop got much smaller.
  Because of this there's less room horizontally for the file names, and
  many words got their last letters cut off to the next row. In many
  file names full rows now alternate with rows of only a couple of cut
  off letters. Name fields with longer file names also look
  disproportionately narrow and tall now. I think the spacing should be
  changed back to what it was, or at least it should be user selectable.

  ProblemType: Bug
  DistroRelease: Ubuntu 16.10
  Package: nautilus 1:3.20.3-1ubuntu2
  ProcVersionSignature: Ubuntu 4.8.0-20.22-generic 4.8.0
  Uname: Linux 4.8.0-20-generic x86_64
  NonfreeKernelModules: nvidia_uvm nvidia_drm nvidia_modeset nvidia
  ApportVersion: 2.20.3-0ubuntu7
  Architecture: amd64
  CurrentDesktop: Unity
  Date: Sat Oct  8 04:04:55 2016
  ExecutablePath: /usr/bin/nautilus
   b'org.gnome.nautilus.preferences' b'thumbnail-limit' b'uint64 4294967295'
   b'org.gnome.nautilus.window-state' b'sidebar-width' b'265'
   b'org.gnome.nautilus.window-state' b'maximized' b'true'
   b'org.gnome.nautilus.list-view' b'default-visible-columns' b"['name', 
'size', 'type', 'date_modified']"
   b'org.gnome.nautilus.list-view' b'default-column-order' b"['name', 'size', 
'type', 'date_modified', 'date_accessed', 'owner', 'group', 'permissions', 
'mime_type', 'where', 'date_modified_with_time']"
  InstallationDate: Installed on 2016-03-27 (194 days ago)
  InstallationMedia: Ubuntu 16.04 LTS "Xenial Xerus" - Beta amd64 (20160323)
   PATH=(custom, no user)
  SourcePackage: nautilus
  UpgradeStatus: No upgrade log present (probably fresh install)
  usr_lib_nautilus: gnome-terminal 3.20.2-1ubuntu5

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