Thursday, April 14, 2011

Choosing the Right Fonts for Your Book

There is such a thing as the perfect font choice.
Seemingly insignificant details are labored over by font designers to evoke a certain type of feeling from a buyer, a reader, or someone else who passively experiences the flow of printed words. The reader may have no idea that their feelings about a particular brand may come from a place they have never even thought of... such as the lines, cross bars, serifs (or lack thereof), or the finer details like arms, ears, legs and tails of the chosen font. There are also complex components such as apertures, ascenders, descenders -- all vitally important to the performance of the font in certain applications. (more information

Who knew? 
Blogging programs don't give you much of a selection; but most online fonts have been tested and carefully considered in backlit applications and over different platforms. Nonetheless, when you are designing your book cover, you have thousands of choices. For an experienced designer, the choice of the right font for the right project is innate in her designer's brain. For those who aren't so lucky to be born with this extra "font sense", several things need to be top of mind:
  1. What is your book's topic? If you're designing a children's book, you don't want a font on the front cover that you might find on a business book. And vice-versa. Unless of course, you're writing a "How to Write a Children's Book" book. Then of course, the lines of font choice are a little blurred; but that said -- pick a font that fits your topic.
  2. Who is your audience? Is your book intended for an older crowd who might need a larger, easier-to-read font? Is it intended for a more modern reader that might prefer a cleaner, more stylized look?
  3. If your intention is for someone to be able to read your title, select a font that is actually readable. Don't choose something so out there that nobody can discern an "a" from an "e". That defeats your purpose, now doesn't it?
  4. Don't get stuck using a font everyone and their mom seems to be using these days (think Papyrus and the movie Avatar...). Choose a font that resonates with your reader, fits your topic, reads well from 10 feet away on a shelf and also reads well at 1-1/2 inches tall for your advertising purposes and online listings like Amazon.
  5. Your subtitle should complement your title font -- but make sure the fonts work in various situations and weights inside your book as well. You don't want to have a contradictory message from the cover to the interior -- they go together as one cohesive package.
  6. For the interior of your book, that rule is a bit different. You need a font that works with horizontal and vertical justification, italics (if you have a lot), and has several choices of weights. Choose a serif font for greatest readability for your body text, but leave room for flexibility in special sections that need to have another treatment to guide your reader into different areas of your book. 
Best place to start: Go to the bookstore and look at other books in the genre. Check out size, leading (distance between lines), and weights of subheads and chapter titles. It's as important to know what doesn't work as it is to know what does work -- so spend three or four hours digging in to other books. Also, try to find newer copyrights and releases -- you want to look modern, even if it is a nostalgic topic. If you are having trouble finding a book that gives you the mood you need, I suggest going to the grocery store and looking at items in the beauty aisle, or even the greeting cards. Those items have the greatest likelihood of repackaging to fit up-to-the-minute trends.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Ask your questions here, or send your self publishing questions via email to Thanks!