Fonts are an important part of your book. They set the mood and can effect the readability of your text. Your book could have potential to be a bestseller but if someone has trouble reading it due to a bad font choice they might just put it down without finishing or recommending it to a friend.

Don’t make the mistake of rushing your font choices or just using your Word processor’s defaults. Take some time to read up on what fonts will or will not work and choose appropriately.

Below are some of the most common types of fonts and information on where they are suitable for use in your book.

Serif fonts:

Serif fonts are fonts that have a little dash at the end of each stroke. Some examples are: Times New Roman, Garamond, Bookman Old Style, and Book Antiqua.

Serif fonts may be used for every part of your book, such as book title, chapter titles, or chapter text. Serif fonts are the easiest to read large blocks of printed text in and should be the only type of font used for the main body text of your book, such as your chapters.

A word on Times New Roman:

Times New Roman was designed for use in newspaper printing presses in 1932 and is not ideal for use in a modern printed book. It is also a very common font and can make your book appear amateurish. I strongly suggest selecting another serif font for your book.

Sans-serif fonts

Sans-serif fonts do not have the little line at the end of each stroke. Arial, Calibri, Tahoma, and Verdana are all sans-serif fonts.

Sans-serif fonts are appropriate for the book title, chapter titles, headers, footers, subheadings and any short lines of text such but should NOT be used for the large blocks of text such as chapter text, preface, introduction, etc. Non-serif fonts are not easily readable in printed large blocks of text. This is different than viewing text on a computer monitor, so even if you think your chapter text looks and reads fine in a sans-serif font when viewing on your computer, be aware that the readability will be different when reading it in a printed book form. This has been tested and has been a long held “rule” for book formatting.

Decorative fonts:

Decorative fonts have some sort of design or artwork element to them as seen below.

These fonts may be used for book and chapter titles but be careful, and make sure that they are easily readable and of good quality.

Caution: Beware Free (Or Almost Free) Font Sources:

Not all fonts are created equal. Be cautious when choosing a font you downloaded for free off the internet or is included in a download with thousands of others for only a few dollars. Many of these are low quality, do not print well, or have good readability. Some may also not have a full character set, meaning they do not have all of the characters needed to type your book. For example, they may not contain a character for the percent sign or the proper quote character. Many of the fonts you get for free (or almost free) do not come with true bold or italics so you should be cautious when using them.

To be safe you should select fonts that you have purchased from a reputable source or that came installed with your word processing program or design software, such as Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop or InDesign.

True Versus Fake Bold and Italics

When you need to apply a bold face or italics to your text be sure that the font you are using has true bold or italics font styles. This means that the font has different font styles for regular, bold, italics, and possibly other styles. Each of these font styles will show up as a different font style in your font folder.

If your font does not have these font styles, this when you apply a bold face or italics to your text your Word processing program will apply a “fake” bold or italic by attempting to skew or darken the existing font. The end result when printed in your book will not be ideal. Some printers may even reject your document if it contains fake bold or italics.

To check your font to see if it has true bold and italics, open your font folder under your computer’s control panel and view the listed fonts. You should see different names for each for normal, bold and italic. For example the Garamond font that comes installed with Microsoft Word lists: Garamond Regular, Garamond Bold, and Garamond Italic. If it only listed Garamond Regular, it would not be using true bold or italics in your document and could cause issues.

Do you have a question about fonts used in book publishing? Post your question below and I will do my best to answer your question.


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Kimberly Martin

Kimberly Martin

Self-publishing specialist with over 15 years of experience, speaker, and coach. In my spare time, I can be found reading, hiking, taking photographs, riding my motorcycle, spoiling my three rescue cats, and decorating the Jera office with my collection of vintage typewriters.
Kimberly Martin
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