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Selecting Fonts For Book Publishing


Font Decisions For Publishing A Book


Font Type

The choice of font type must consider:

The context of the book - some fonts look more formal than others and are better suited to business and scientific books

Readability - depends on how letters work together in words and in lines of text. The best way here is to use a standard paragraph and try it in different fonts - you will be surprised how the right one jumps out at you. You must also consider what media the book will read in. For instance, ebooks may either be read online or printed and read.

So at this point you have fonts that both look good and are easy to read in all media. The final test is to decide on the size. This is often hard to deciede without seeing the font relative to the final page size of the book. viewing it on a computer screen or A4 page is irrelevant if you book size is 9.25" x 7.5". So, take a selection of pages [3 or 4] and copy the font into a book file sized to match your print book size. View this both online and printed - but cut the printed version down to match the final print size.

Play around with different combinations until you get the one you want.

Standard Selections

Most print books are set in a serif font, due to publishers believing this type to be more readable.

Technical books - are sometimes set in a sans serif font. This may be due to most technical persons being more familiar with reading documents online in this format.


Display Fonts

Display fonts are used for headlines, headers, footers, chapter titles, paragraph or section titles.

Chose display fonts for readability but since they are only short lines, you can be more concerned about the style they add to your book.

Be careful that the combination of text font and display font works together. It is common to have sans serif fonts for display text in books where a serif font is used for the body text.

Helvetica is the most popular choice for chapter headings, being the most distinctive font from Times Roman [if this is your choice for the main text]. It also looks good in bold.

Other designers advocate using:

The same font for text and for section and subsection headings [subheads].

Using ALL CAPS, italics, SMALL CAPS, etc., to differentiate the levels of headings. Note - don't use small caps in a heading unless you use a small caps font. The Small Caps feature used by word processors generally only scales down capitals and is not true small caps.

ALL CAPS are harder to read, but this is fine for short chapter titles, but not for long subheads.

  • Chapter Head - 14 pt Helvetica ALL CAPS
  • A - Subheadings - 12 pt Helvetica Bold
  • B - Subheadings - Same size and type as Text but in bold or italic

Note - if you are writing your book using Microsoft Word, to prevent subheadings being orphaned at the bottom of the page - use Format > Paragraph > Line and Page Breaks > Keep with next.


Font Size & Spacing

Remember that fonts that are too small are difficult to read, and those that are too big, look like childrens books. The sizing must consider both the text font size and the line spacing. For instance, a text set "11/13" or "11 on 13" means 11-point text with 13 points of spacing.

Next: Setting Up Your Page Format

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