For eBooks, font isn’t a key element because most eBook readers allow users to change the font. So it doesn’t matter what font you use in your manuscript because readers can change them.
On the other hand, font is a key element for paperbacks and hardcovers. The font that you use will be printed on the book. Thus, it’s crucial that you spend time to choose the right font for your book.
Discover 5 factors to consider when choosing a font for your self-published paperbacks and hardcovers.
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1. Book Genre or Topic
You might use the same font for the body text in fiction and non-fiction books. But for titles, subtitles and chapter headings, you might choose a fanciful font for fiction and a professional font for non-fiction.
Since non-fiction books contain nuggets of wisdom from industry experts, it’s natural to choose serious, clean, professional font to convey the gravity of the topic.
On the other hand, there are more fonts to choose from for fiction books. Depending on your book’s genre, you might choose a certain type of font.
- Literary Fiction: elegant font like Baskerville
- Romance: feminine font like Sabon
- Thriller: classic font like Garamond
2. Your Readers
Do take your readers into consideration when choosing the font for your book.
Who are your target readers? Are they male or female? Young or old? How old are they?
If your readers are children, you can choose cute fonts to pique their interest. If you’re targeting older readers, you might choose fonts that are bigger or have thicker lines so it’s easier for them to read your book.
And this brings us to the next important factor…
3. Readability & Legibility
The readability and legibility of the font are one of the most important factors when deciding the font of your books.
For headlines and chapter titles, you might choose fancy fonts. But for the body text, you should always use more readable fonts.
Here are some technical elements of typographic design that you need to take into account.
X-height is the height of the lowercase x for a typeface. Typefaces with tall x-heights have better legibility at small font sizes because the white space within each letter is more legible.
Also consider letter spacing, the space between letters in a piece of text. For smaller type sizes, looser letter spacing can improve readability as more space between letters increases contrast between each letter shape.
Line height, also known as leading, controls the amount of space between baselines in a block of text. Note that a generous line height results in better readability.
When choosing your fonts, do look at the italic version and the numbers. If your books contain quite a few italics and numbers, you’ll need to see how the font looks. For instance, Georgia’s numbers are of different heights with some numbers dropping below the baseline.
Check out my article on how to choose the perfect font from a typographic angle~
Bear in mind that every font comes with a license. A font license grants the owner the right to use a typeface in a specific manner as outlined in the license.
For example, SIL OpenFont is a free software license. Fonts covered by this license can be freely used, modified, and distributed.
When choosing a font, ensure that the license allows for commercial use since you’ll be selling the book.
5. Font Styles or Font Weight
So this is slightly more technical. But I prefer getting fonts with a few styles or weights.
I like to keep my book minimalist and simple so I tend to only use 1 to 2 fonts for the book interior. Right now, I’m using only 1 font but a few different weights or styles for the book title, chapter titles and body text.
You can of course use 2 different fonts. But for those who prefer the minimalist style like me, you can just choose 1 font that has different styles or weights to differentiate between the book title, chapter titles and body text. For instance, regular style can be used for body text while medium, semibold and bold can be used for book title and chapter titles.
Bonus Tip: Print The Fonts & Examine Them
Sometimes, a font may look nice on the screen but looks different when it’s printed on paper.
After shortlisting a few fonts, consider printing them out and examining them critically on paper.
I also suggest that you print the fonts in different sizes and test the various line heights. This is especially useful if you’re still working on the interior formatting and layout for your paperback or hardcover.
If you already have your manuscript, you can simply change the font and line height then print it. Repeat the process with the same font but with a different line height or change the font. Print as many versions as needed.
Do include numbers, italic, bold and punctuation like exclamation and question marks (unless you already have them in your manuscript). This way, you can see how they look on printed paper. Whether they’re readable and easy on the eye.
Here’s my own personal experience. I’ve shortlisted Cardo and Lora because they look pretty on the screen. But in the end, I chose Lora because it looks nicer and bigger on paper.
Now It’s Your Turn
How do you select the font for your books? What factors did you consider?
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