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51,112 Views 5 Replies Last post: Oct 14, 2012 8:09 AM by Lighthouse24 RSS
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Jun 1, 2012 9:03 AM

Font, font size and spacing questions

What are the best and most common fonts and font sizes for a typical fictional novel?

Also, how many spaces should be between words?

How many spaces between sentences?

And I'm guessing single spaced lines?

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1. Jun 1, 2012 9:26 AM in response to: Eman1
Re: Font, font size and spacing questions

What are the best and most common fonts and font sizes for a typical fictional novel?

 

This is a very subjective thing and will depend on the trim size of your book, the look and feel you are going for etc. Most fiction is typeset in a serif font. The font size will fluctuate depending on the font chosen as each font will be different sizes at a specific point setting.

 

Also, how many spaces should be between words?

 

There should be one space between words and text is usually fully justified and hyphenated, this will effect the size of the single space on each line (stretch and compress) so adjusting your hyphen settings can help to create a more unified look.

 

How many spaces between sentences?

 

The standard used to be two but in the last 10 years the majority of fiction novels have used a single space.

 

And I'm guessing single spaced lines?

 

Single line spacing in word gives you about a 15% leading so it can be acceptable for some fonts, personally I like to set my line spacing to an exact point size to controll leading better the standard is about 20% leading so that would mean 12 point font would be between 14 and 15 point line spacing.

 

For more information on these items please see the 'Fiction Formatting' section of my website at http://www.rcbutlerbooks.com

 

 

R. C.

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2. Jun 1, 2012 10:31 AM in response to: Eman1
Re: Font, font size and spacing questions

Nothing in the post above that I'd disagree with.  I'll add the when selecting a typeface/font for body text, you should choose one that has a full family (i.e., there are separate font programs installed for the regular, bold, italic, and bold italic styles of the typeface).  Otherwise, your page layout application will be forced to produce a faux font to emulate the alternative styles, and that rarely looks good on a book page.

 

Also, some fonts are better than others for a specific use like a book page -- for example, certain fonts that are highly preferred and widely used for business or legal documents do not look all that great when printed by the digital presses that are used for print-on-demand books.  The software being used for page layout also matters.  For example, Adobe Minion Pro and Adobe Garamond Pro are two of my favorite body text fonts for a layout done with InDesign, but neither behave properly in Word (word processing programs don't have the capability to handle a Pro font's advanced features).  However, the version of Garamond that ships with Windows systems is quite suitable for a book page layout done in Word, and for book pages printed with digital presses.  There are probably a half dozen typefaces/fonts that ship with Windows that are equally suitable for body text.

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3. Jun 2, 2012 8:39 AM in response to: Eman1
Re: Font, font size and spacing questions

The most common style font for books is serif (except: text books, children's books, etc.).  What actual type face (fonts or families)  . . . there are all sorts of lists, no two that I've seen are the same.

 

Letter/word/sentence spacing: to over simplify, the French generally used narrower spaces between sentences, and the English wider. With typewriters (monospaced characters) double spacing between sentences has been the norm. With hand-set metal type, letter spacing could only be positive, never negative (with very few exceptions, such as ligatures in display type, read $$$). From Mr. Gutenberg in the early 1400's until not long ago, all type was set this way.  With digital (or phototypesetting before it), we can do so much more . . . without knowing a thing!  The space bar gives a letter space, but that is variable: it has no fixed size.

 

Single and double spacing makes sense only on typewriters. If memory serves me, I believe 12 pt TNR in Word set single works out to 12/13.8 (read "twelve on 13.8"). This means 12 pt type, with 1.8 pt of leading (or line spacing).

 

These measurements are only exact within a specific font, otherwise they are relative. Many font designers add a little linear space--above and/or below--the character; and the x height, the height of the x, for example, can vary tremendously, as an the length of the ascenders and descenders.

 

How to make head or tails of this?  Take a look at Build Your Book, a free, 98 page guide to designing your book. It has a small section on type. Then look at books around you.  Also, print out your tests, do not rely on your monitor.

 

But there is an exact answer to your question: the perfect font, font size, spacing, margins, etc. for your book is what works best for your book--the aesthetics of it taken in consideration with its subject matter and your intended audience.  Often I an make these choices in a few hours, but I had one book last year that took me 2 weeks to work out.

 

Walton

Disclaimer: all statements of apparent fact in this post are empirical inferences based on observational data. These are idiosyncratic in nature and have not necessarily been subject to verification. Build Your Book, a free, 98 page guide to designing your book;  CS Digital Sampler understand CS digital possibilities; GIMP, free, tutorials, GIMP, GIMP Help, excerpts from GIMP Supremacy Supremacy;  Bleeds, free, 19 page, illustrated guide to bleeds and margins, do's and don't's for CreateSpace;  Contact for graphics, design, and typesetting help. 


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4. Oct 13, 2012 6:46 PM in response to: Lighthouse24
Re: Font, font size and spacing questions

Lighthouse- what would you say are the half dozen fonts that come with Word are that you think would be suitable? The trouble i have with garamond is that it seems to print too light. I wonder if that would look darker with a commercial press but hate to risk it. I know for books thats supposed to be good- to not be too dark but i have trouble reading that. I dowloaded a pro font from adobe so i wonder if ill have the same problems in word you mention for the other pro fonts. So in case that doesnt work out would love to know which are those half dozen in word you think are good dandidates.

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5. Oct 14, 2012 8:09 AM in response to: vicki3
Re: Font, font size and spacing questions

When you say "fonts that come with Word," it depends on the version of Word, whether it was a standlone purchase or a part of the MS Office suite, and (if part of the suite) the version of that (Office Professional includes more fonts than Office Home & Student, for example).  Limiting this to serif style fonts for body text, and choosing from the largest list (Office Professional Plus): Bookman, Garamond, Goudy, and Palatino (or Book Antiqua, the Microsoft knock-off of Palatino) are the best Old Style typeface choices in my opinion.  As you probably know, Garamond has been used for tens of thousands of book projects, including the US editions of every Harry Potter title.

 

Maybe you just don't care for Old Style typefaces.  In that case, Bodoni is a Modern style typeface that many recommend (however it has stroke characteristics that look too thin/light to me when printed with digital press, so I don't like it for POD).  Century Schoolbook is a good Transitional style typeface (and the one that nearly every child in North America has been learning with for about a hundred years -- which could be a good reason to choose it or to avoid it, depending on your project).  Baskerville would be another good Transitional style typeface to consider, except it (unfortunately) doesn't ship with Office as a full family (no separate bold, italic, or bold italic fonts included).  Georgia is a Transitional style typeface that many self-publishers here have selected (although typographers often put it on the list with Times New Roman as one to never use).  It performs very well from a technical perspective and is great for things like captions and short passages of text, but is reportedly not as easy to read in long passages of body text. (Of interest perhaps, it was released in 1996 and used for all the marketing pieces associated with the Olympic games in Atlanta that year, which is apparently how it got its name).

 

For anyone who might be shopping for serif fonts that don't ship with Microsoft products, some of my Old Style favorites are Bembo, Caslon, Jenson, Minion, and SabonElectra is a Transitional typeface I like, and Didot is a Modern one I really like and that seems to be very popular for mainstream releases now (but like Bodoni, it just doesn't look right to me with CS's print-on-demand when compared to offset printing -- so maybe there's a problem in general with Modern typefaces and digital presses).

 

Again, just my opinion, but hope it's of use.

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