... i have tried many different numbers for the bounds and it just doesn't want to work.
Setting the bounds relocates and resizes the component in the absence of any layout managers. If you are using a layout manager (which you will be unless you explicitly set it null), you'll find that only max, min, and preferred size are respected - otherwise the layout manager couldn't do its job. I would suggest setting the preferred size to the size you want and letting the layout manager handle the positioning. See Laying Out Components Within a Container.
What is a good size text area?
That depends what you want to use it for, and the design of your application.
Thatís whatís cool about working with computers. They donít argue, they remember everything, and they donít drink all your beer...
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