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Understanding Book Elements: Fonts-Part 2

Created on: Mar 10, 2011 8:29 AM by CreateSpaceResources - Last Modified:  Mar 30, 2011 10:07 AM by CreateSpaceResources

Understanding Book Elements: Fonts - Part 2

By Shawn, CreateSpace Graphic Arts Specialist


In multiple articles now, we've talked about your book's cover being the first thing that people see when searching for your book. We've also talked about how important it is to have the correct color schemes to set up the overall look on the cover and to make a professional presentation when designing your interior. But now let's take this thought a little further and see the why the overall look is so important.



Think about some of your favorite product images. A marketing guru and design evangelist (yes, these are actual job titles for some of these people), spend hours and hours thinking about how a person will react to every color, shape, font and layout possibility. You see, logos are not just born out of some magical act, they are more forged like a sword: constant shaping, heating, cooling, until the final product is polished and as sharp and strong as possible.



The same should apply to the font choices you make on your book. There are millions of fonts out there and many more literally created every day. So in all this, how do you know which one to choose? Well, there are some basic rules in the design world for choosing fonts, and some helpful tools that can help with your decision.


The cover of the book is where true creativity can come through. However, with so many fonts out there you can be very easily overwhelmed at the sheer number of possibilities. So how do you go about choosing what fonts to use on the front cover? Here are a few of guidelines to go by:



  1. Don't go for the "specialty" fonts. What I mean by this is if you're writing a book about firefighters, don't use a font that looks exactly like it was made of flames. There are about a hundred of those out there, and none of them will make your book look professional. Instead, adapt a more professional font in a way to give it the fiery excitement that will entice readers to pick your book.
  2. Simple can be better. If you have busy imagery on the front cover, balance it with a simple display of fonts. But remember that simple does not mean boring. You can still have something that is unique, just don't overdo it.
  3. Save up some money and buy good fonts. Good typography is not cheap. The licensing for fonts is very strict. Fonts are hand-drawn and crafted by people and that takes time, patience, and a lot of coffee. But for most of these people, this is their only income. So support the designers that try to improve the way we read and live. Whether you're designing the book yourself or paying a graphic designer to handle the layout of your book, a great selection of fonts is important. So if you see something that's the perfect fit for your title, go ahead and purchase it.



So what about the interior of the book? The first rule I have is if you're writing anything except a technical manual, then use serif fonts for your interior. These are fonts like New Baskerville, Garamond, Minion, or even Times New Roman. As I mentioned in the previous article, most people do not see individual letters, they see the combined shape of a word. So anything to aid readers in reading your book is always preferred. There are many, many more serif fonts that would work for your interior, but it should be noted that you should always be looking for the professional fonts - those that come as a complete "family," with full sets of italics, bold and bold-italic versions of one font. These complete families should also have all the glyphs needed to handle everything you need in your book. For instance, not every font out there carries a tilde.



Also, don't use more than three fonts in your entire book. Too many fonts can make it look busy and turn readers off from following your story. This does not count for versions of fonts. Get the most out of your font choices. If you can get away with only using one font, and its many variations, then do it. Your book will still look dynamic and enticing, but with a class and polish that readers have come to expect in these digital production days.



There are a few sites that you can try before you buy fonts. These sites have a text box that can allow you to see text (such as your book's basic cover font) before you decide to purchase:



There are others out there, but these are two of the most popular sites. Many of the individual type foundries will allow you see what your text will look like before you buy the font.



With all this information, remember that the fonts you choose create your overall brand. That overall brand has to evoke an emotion in the reader. It's all a part of setting the scene for the reader to enjoy your book. And the more forethought you put into this, the better your book will be.



Shawn is a member of the CreateSpace Art Services team. He is an expert in graphic design and the technology that drives it.



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