The most common fonts for books

  1. How to choose the best font for your book
  2. The unobtrusive key to a good book font
  3. Good font pairing

How to choose the best font for your book

There is as much art in developing a book as there is science. The issues of crop size – the length and width – and ideal cover designs are taken up by the published authors themselves, but an often overlooked point of view is with typography.

Designers distinguish between two key concepts:

  • A font is a family of related characters. Helvetica, for example, is a headset.

  • A font is a specific instance of a font. For example, Helvetica Narrow Italic is a typeface.

Traditionally, fonts have been fixed point size, but this practice—a holdover from the days when typefaces consisted of single letters placed on printing presses—has largely been replaced by digital printing.

Choosing complementary and readable fonts results in a harmonious visual appeal that ensures that your book is well read by readers.

The unobtrusive key to a good book font

When you’re reading a book, the designer’s font choice is probably not the first thing that catches your eye. That’s good, because if the font choice caught your eye right away and said, “Look at me,” it probably wasn’t the right font for this book. Follow the best practices:

  • Use a sans-serif or sans-serif font. There is no place in the main text of the book for black letters, fonts, or decorative fonts. In some cases, they work for chapter headings or tables of contents, but not for body text. In general, you can’t go wrong with most classic serif or sans serif fonts, although traditionally most book fonts are serif fonts.
  • Be inconspicuous † For most books, the best font is one that doesn’t stand up and yell at the reader. It doesn’t have extreme x-heights, unusually long risers or fallers, or overly complicated letterforms with extra blooms. While a professional designer can see the unique beauty of each font, for most readers it’s just another font.
  • Stay away from printed fonts. Avoid monospace fonts like Courier fonts or other typewriters. Uniform spacing between characters makes the text stand out too much. The exception is other text elements, such as chapter headings or quotation marks, where you may want a more distinctive font.
  • Choose a font that is clear with 14 dots or less. Actual font size will depend on the specific font, but most books are between 10 and 14 points. Decorative fonts are usually not legible at these sizes.
  • Set up the presenter † The space between lines of text is just as important as the specific font and point size. Some fonts may require more input than others to accommodate long ascending or descending letters. However, increasing the leading numbers may increase the number of pages in the book. It’s a balancing act of some book designs. Adding about 2 points to the text point size is a good starting point for choosing a leading point, so a 12 point type would be chosen as 14 point.

Good font pairing

It’s hard to go wrong with famous serif classics like Minion, Janson, Sabon and Adobe Garamond, don’t be afraid to try a serif font like Trade Gothic if it works for your design. For digital books, Arial, Georgia, Lucida Sans, or Palatino are the default options because they are loaded in most eBooks. Other good book fonts include ITC New Baskerville, Electra, and Dante.

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