Friday, October 20, 2017

[Self-Publishing] Selecting a Font for Your Book

Fonts, an important part of publishing any paperback book.  So which fonts should you choose?

When desktop publishing started, way back in the 1980s, computers' were able to graphics that were more accurate, sort of "what you see is what you get" kind of display.  Creating familiar fonts for computer users all over the world.

Times New Roman and Arial are the most popular of these fonts, but they're a bit of a mixed bag for all creators and customers alike.

These fonts have been set to "default", spreading everywhere whether they're appropriate or not.

The Dilemma with Defaults

Times New Roman was designed in 1931 by Stanley Morrison for use in the Times London Newspaper.

Original designed to be read in a newspaper its set width and other internal properties were always determined to be read in the confines of a newspaper, but not in the generous space of a book.

One of the most popular fonts of recent times is Arial, whose origins come from the font Helvetica.  They only typeface to have a movie made about it.  Not intended for readers unused to seeing whole books set in sans serif fonts.

Better Graphics, Better Fonts

Fortunately technology has moved on and become more sophisticated and so has it users.  There has been a massive explosion in new fonts from new designers.

A lot of these fonts are based on the older designs dating back as far as the late 15th century.

This is where the family of "oldstyle" comes from.

Identifying Oldstyle Fonts

Calligraphers and scribes, before the invention of printing, would use these fonts by writing them out by hand.

These "Oldstyle" fonts have the kind of characteristics perfect for book composition.

They can be easily identified by their characteristics:

Tilted axis

Round letters like "O" and "C" have both thicker and thinner strokes.  They a tilted axis, if you drew a line threough them they would be slightly off-center.  Emulating the square-tipped pen the scribes would use.

Moderate stroke variation

No huge variation on the thin and thick strokes, they don't tend to vary that much.  They were also written with square-tipped pens creating a variable stroke with each character.

Rounded or bracketed serifs

Serifs have strokes like the "legs" on an "i" or they make letters look more decorative.  The scribes would leave a tiny flourish after each stroke.  They make words more readable.

Best Fonts For Paperback Books


A classic oldstyle font created by Claude Garamond in the 16th century France.  Many other similar typefaces have been created including the popular Sabon.


This font derived from William Caslon, one England,s first printers.  A very good choice for book publishers.

Janson Text

Emanating from the Netherlands in the 17th century.


The most popular oldstyle font off all time is Palatino.  A hugely over-exposed font, a font used by Mackintosh, back in the day.

Which Font Should I use?

If you have real flair for design then you'll have no problem matching up your font with your book design.

Typesetting with a PC won't give you the sophisticated hyphenation or elegant control over your type.

By choosing the right typeface at the start, you'll create a more readable book and also accomodate book publishing practices.

Read more about writing: Publishing a Book: A Quick Examination of Self-Publishing and PublishingWhat is DRM? How Does it Work?The Fast Guide to Publishing Your Book with Createspace[Self-Publishing] The Phenomena of the Blank Page[Self-Publishing] Selecting a Book SizeThings to Do Before You Self-Publish Your Ebook.

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