5 Favorite Fonts for Interior Book Design

by Joel Friedlander on August 31, 2009 · 364 comments

There’s no bigger decision you make in designing a book than picking the body typeface. A book by its nature is a long reading experience, and as book publishers we want our books to be as easy to read as possible while communicating the author’s intent. Style and fashion also play their part in many book designs, particularly in popular niches. The accumulated expectations of 500 years of book readers also come into play. Books are pretty conventional objects, after all.

Some fonts really lend themselves to book design while others, which look good in a brochure or on a business card or billboard, make odd, unreadable books. Any idiosyncrasy in the type design will be magnified by the repetition of typesetting 75,000 or 100,000 words in thousands of lines on hundreds of pages.

So the choice of your basic typeface looms large when you sit down to design your book. Here are five typefaces that have become favorites and which will almost always look great in your books too. You’ll find links to the vendor of the fonts as well.

  1. Garamond – Named after the famed 16th-century French “punch-cutter” or type designer Claude Garamond, many versions of this old style face exist. The one used most frequently now is the version designed by Robert Slimbach for Adobe. It’s known for its graceful, flowing style and humanistic elegance. Here’s a sample:
  2. Get Garamond here

  3. Janson – Designed by the Hungarian Nicholas Kis in the 17th century, the design was mistakenly attributed to the Dutch printer Anton Janson. It is a strong and elegant face with marked contrast between thin and thick strokes, and may be the most popular text face for fine bookmaking. Here’s a sample:
  4. Get Janson here

  5. Bembo – Bembo, another old style typeface, was based upon a design by Francesco Griffo, who worked for famed early printer and publisher Aldus Manutius in Venice in the 15th and early 16th century. It was a clear attempt to bring the humanist script of the finest scribes of the day to the printed page, and served as the chief inspiration to Claude Garamond, among others. Bembo has a classic beauty and readability that are unmatched.
  6. Get Bembo here

  7. Caslon – One of the most popular text typefaces of the 18th and 19th centuries, Caslon was designed by William Caslon in England in the early 18th century. An old-style face modeled on early Dutch originals, Caslon has an appealing irregularity and creates a distinctive texture on the page. Many people recognize Caslon from its extensive use in textbooks. Here’s a sample:
  8. Get Caslon here

  9. Electra – A 1935 design by the prolific type designer D.W. Dwiggins, Electra creates a distinctive “color” and evenness on a printed page. It’s inventor said he wanted Electra to excel at setting down warm human ideas, to endow it with a warmth of blood and personality. Here’s a sample:
  10. Get Electra here
    Although it would be easy to fill a book with samples of great text typefaces, it’s also true that many professional book designers could, if necessary, limit themselves to just these five fonts and continue to create great—and greatly varied—book designs, for years to come.

    So when it comes time to select the typeface for your next book, choose one of these five and rest assured that you have made a great selection.

    Those are my favorites. What about yours?

    Be Sociable, Share!

    { 318 comments… read them below or add one }

    Hugh January 23, 2015 at 12:30 am

    I am assuming that this selection particularly applies to English language publishing. Leaving aside publishing in foreign languages, what if the content of your book has numerous words and phrases in another language, especially if it does not use the Roman alphabet? So if we had an English language book with numerous references in both German and Russia (in Cyrillic alphabet) as individual words, phrases or paragraphs. Would you use a different font for these or would you select a particular font that covered all the bases with just one? In which case what are good fonts for Cyrillic?


    Hiten January 8, 2015 at 4:23 am

    Dear Joel,

    For a self help/personal development book my designer is suggesting to use the following for the printed book:

    Sample 1
    – body text – Bookman Old Style
    – heading + subheading – Bodoni Bd BT
    – header + footer – Verdana

    Sample 2
    – body text – Bookman Old Style + drop caps
    – heading + subheading – BenFranklin
    – header + footer – Verdana

    Sample 3
    – body text – Book Antiqua + drop caps
    – heading – BenFranklin
    – subheading – Bookman Old Style
    – header + footer – Verdana

    What do you feel about this? It looks old style and not modern enough.

    Also, once the printed interior layout is finalised does the eBook need to reflect the actual font used in the printed book or can or should it be different?

    Appreciate your assistance on this.



    Stephen Tiano January 8, 2015 at 6:37 am

    Hiten, I’m not a particularly big fan of Bookman Old Style, even tho’ I like Old Styles, generally. The contrast between its thick and thin strokes, seems minimal to me. While I don’t necessarily like the really great contrasts you see in some typefaces, notably the Transitionals, what I see in Bookman Old Style is a rather faint contrast that’s kind of boring. And, anyway, for a contemporary self-help book I’d be tempted to try something a little peppier, perhaps even a Humanist sans serif, if there were a lot of short, punchy paragraphs. Else something like the Scala Pro superfamily for a more modern take on Old Style.


    Roger C. Parker January 11, 2015 at 7:05 am

    I agree with your recommendation to explore Humanist sans serifs fonts for a contemporary look. Stephen.

    In particular, I encourage Hiten to explore Sumner Stone’s Stone Humanist, a variation of his Stone Sans. You can learn more at http://www.stonetypefoundry.com.

    It’s a highly readable font that has been refined over the past few decades. Sumner Stone was previously Adobe’s Director of Font Typography. Stone Humanist is available from fonts.com, myfonts.com, linotype.com, which offer the ability to set samples in Stone Humanist and other alternatives.

    Of interest, Stone Humanist offers the same x-height as Stone Serif, so you can easily use them on the same page; using the serif to set apart quotations or dialogue/case studies, etc.


    Stephen Tiano January 11, 2015 at 8:46 am

    Roger, I think I still prefer Optima to Stone’s Humanist, tho’ there’s something to be said for having a serif of the same family.


    Joel Friedlander January 8, 2015 at 11:50 am

    I agree with Stephen’s evaluation of Bookman Old Style. In addition, I probably wouldn’t use Verdana, opting instead for print-specific fonts like Myriad instead. But to do a proper evaluation, I would have to actually typeset a book page with these fonts, and from a description, there’s no way to tell what the manuscript or the hierarchy of information looks like.


    Tessa December 30, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    The self-publishing company I am working with has used Bembo St. font size 11 pts for my book. The text looks a little small to be – do you have any thoughts about whether Bembo 12 pts would be better?


    Joel Friedlander December 31, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Tessa, Bembo has a very small “x-height” so I would definitely ask them to set some pages in 12 point, I think it will be much more readable.


    Stephen Tiano January 8, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Yes, I neglected to mention my vehement objection to Verdana, essentially a screen font. But the most important point, one that I mentioned only lightly and that Joel states more forcefully, is that one of the points of book design is to marry typefaces to suitable material. A book designer worth his salt will do what Joel and I both do, set samples of actual text from the project after looking over all that will go into the book to find types that really match up well with the material. I’ve written fairly extensively over the years, both on my own blog and on other forums, about the different ways one can match types: by time period, by subject matter, by place of origin of the typeface; and then also the opposite of the commonalities the typefaces and material would seem to share.


    Boyd Wichman January 23, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    I have written an interior design book. I have a software web site to put the interior design into a proposal and estimate. I have the web site 95% completed, I am updating with some new info from my book. I am just getting started thinking about how to publish the book to promote my web site.


    Ramy December 26, 2014 at 8:31 am


    i have a friend of mine who has compiled a book and i am revising it but i have never done any typesetting before and he does not have much to pay a pro to do it so i thought ill lend a little hand and i found this blog…

    can anyone tell me what font is used for this book on the link please?

    i would really appreciate it


    Stephen Tiano August 14, 2014 at 4:29 am

    J.M., on my blog, http://www.tianobookdesign.com/blog, search “Free Tools for the Beginning Book Designer”. I mention a few–in my opinion–really nice ones.


    Tal November 27, 2014 at 6:53 am

    hello, Are all fonts mentioned in this post free for commercial use (i.e. Amazon Kindle publishing?) How can I verify if a font I use is free? such as Garamond, Jason etc.



    Stephen Tiano January 8, 2015 at 6:27 am

    Tal, you really need to check the user’s licenses for each, tho’ I believe I chose the ones I’ve blogged about because they only required a prominent acknowledgment in the work they’re used in.


    A.P. Andes June 20, 2014 at 11:46 am


    I love Janson, has always been one of my ultra-faves, and I was in type design/proofreading for a decade and a half way back when. My problem is I’m publishing online, and Janson isn’t even in my (fairly substantial) font library, either on the HP I’m borrowing now or on my (very) old Dell. I did it first in Courier New (barf!) because I had originally planned to go the traditional publishing route. Garamond is such a small lc font, and those differently-angled serifs on the cap “T”s have never been a favorite. But it will clearly be on every library. Then there’s TR, which I’ve never loved but will ALWAYS be on there. I like Century Schoolbook much better, the way it sets up, it looks more fluid and graceful to me, and it is on my library (both on the HP AND the Dell) but not sure if that means it will be available on most others. Thoughts? Do you know if it is a very common face online, and do you think it works well for an online font for a book? Thanks, Joel!


    Mike Shaw May 10, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Thank you, Joel !
    Garamond it is. Just changed the whole book from Arial. Now to get rid of that ragged right…

    Thanks for all you do!


    Kimberly April 10, 2014 at 9:26 am

    I like Book Antiqua.


    Geoff Plunkett March 15, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    1. How about Garamond Pro versus Garamond Premier Pro?

    2. And what if the font is over 12. I understand Garamond Pro is Ok up to 12 and Garamond Premier Pro is good to 15?


    Filip Palda March 6, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    How about Minion Pro?


    Jane March 3, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    Thanks, Ben and Leslie. Minion was actually my second choice so perhaps I should take a look at it before finalizing a decision. Would Minion be better in Regular or Medium for a book? I see that both are offered.


    Leslie March 4, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Minion Pro regular is better than medium for large blocks of text. Check out this book: http://tinyurl.com/n8q7mzk “The Elements of Typographic Style” by Robert Bringhurst. It is typeset in Minion and shows what it looks like in long blocks of text. Always, always test a few pages with your actual words before deciding. For my clients I do up to 30 pages of tests showing all elements for sample pages.


    Phil Steer March 5, 2014 at 11:41 am


    I’m certainly no expert, but from my limited experience I would also say that the appearance on the font on the page depends not only on the font face and the font size but also on the line spacing. Give a font a bit more “room to breathe” by increasing the line spacing, and it can work much better.

    For my book I settled on Bembo Book (from fonts.com) and experimented by printing out various combinations of font size and line spacing. You can see the final result on Google Books (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=GVLF8HrNmPUC&lpg=PP1&dq=editions%3ART3tb_jG_S8C&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false) – albeit the quality suffers compared with the printed version. On reflection, I think I could have upped the spacing a notch more (especially as my book is not long, at around 140 pages).

    Bembo Book may not be the font for you but, do experiment with the size and spacing. Good luck!



    Jane March 2, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    Thanks so much, Leslie. I was able to find an article about the book and the type is Times Ten Roman (12 pt in the hardback). So readable… And in a bestselling book (c) 2009 (and in the paperback that came out more recently). Is Times Ten Roman still considered current enough, though? Nothing else really entices me.


    Leslie March 2, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    Times Ten Roman is a classic design first created in the 1930s by the English typographer Stanley Morrison. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Morison
    You don’t want to use a typeface that will become dated so the longer the typeface has been in consistent use the more it will remain in use, strangely enough. The most important thing is that it works well with your particular subject matter and writing and works with the type of paper you are printing on. Before deciding on a typeface it is a good idea to do a few tests on two to three pages.


    Ben Hamatake March 2, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    Times New Roman was designed for a newspaper, so it caters to small sizes and tight spaces. This is not usually the case for the text of a book—your words have more room to breath and can therefore be more expressive.

    You may want to consider fonts which provide a “small-text” variant. These are adapted for printing at smaller sizes (i.e. 8–11.5pt or so) and appear slightly heavier in relation to “regular.” Bembo Book, Arno Pro Small Text, and Scotch Modern Micro are examples of fonts that have been designed with book page layout in mind (links below).



    Leslie March 3, 2014 at 10:21 am

    I would not rule out Minion either for a text heavy book with few illustrations. It also has small caps and old style figures for better typographic color. It is not too light on the page as some of the older fonts that were digitized later. Electra is now too light as is Bembo which is too bad.


    Jane Crane March 2, 2014 at 8:41 am

    I have just finished a book about widows in Africa and need a font that is readable for all ages. Garamond is too light for me. Do you have another suggestion? Also, can semi-bold be used throughout a book or is it just too dark. I love the type in the hardbound version of the book Half the Sky but cannot figure out what it is.


    Leslie March 2, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Half the Sky looks like it was typeset in Perpetua but I can’t be sure. If you have a copy look for the typeface credit in the colophon if it has one. I would never design a book using all semi-bold. It is meant for emphasis only or chapter titles. When everything is bold, nothing is bold. It is also hard to read in large amounts of text.


    Kevin March 5, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Great call on Perpetua, Leslie. Perpetua italic is full of all sorts of Eric Gill goodness.

    What say you, book designers–Perpetua a good choice for Jane’s project?


    LTF November 23, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Cochin is hard to read in large amounts of text. But don’t take my word for it. Print out a few paragraphs of it and try reading it. A memoir I recently read that was quite legible was typeset in Fournier. The title of the book is Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune Bill Dedman. It is a good idea to look at successfully designed books and see what typefaces they have used. You can find it in the colophon if they have one.


    Monica Devine November 23, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Boy, I’m loving this thread. A big thank you to Joel, and all you graphic designers out there with compelling ideas. Anyone ever use Cochin for inside text of a memoir? I haven’t heard it mentioned yet. I’m considering it for the book cover title, and inside text, and would love your opinions.


    Peggy Herrington November 8, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    My website isn’t up yet but I can help you with Word, Jean. I”m not familiar with the rules of this great blog.

    Joel, is there some what you or I can give Jean my contact information? Or maybe you can help her.



    Joel Friedlander November 8, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Peggy, the link in your name on your comment is the way most people will be able to contact you, and thanks for the helpful offer.


    Jean Johnson November 8, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    I seek permission to change the topic here. I am not good at formatting word files for publishing. Is there anyone who can inform me how I can learn this skill set? I would like to start formatting my files for Createspace and Kindle stores.
    I have had long delays and poor formatting done re: a book file. My spending has been enormous too due to all these problems faced. Your ideas are welcomed.


    Joel Friedlander November 8, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Jean, I suggest you surf over to Book Design Templates and take a look at the pre-designed, pre-formatted templates available there for Microsoft Word. They make the job of formatting your book for CreateSpace or Kindle very quick and easy, and if you get stuck we have a support staff ready to get you unstuck and on your way. You’ll end up with a good-looking book at an incredible price.


    Peggy Herrington October 10, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I used Garamond in a book I designed for a client and am glad to see it here. I’m considering using your Leadership template for an anthology I’m editing and doing a bookblock for. I don’t know which of the fonts Leadership uses for text (Amaranth or Crimson), but I’m wondering about the benefits of using whichever font that is as opposed to Garamond.

    Could you speak to that briefly?



    Joel Friedlander October 10, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Hi Peggy,

    Crimson is a lovely old style font that’s quite good for book work. If you’re familiar with Word’s styles, you can swap out Crimson for Garamond if you like, the template will still work fine, and if you don’t want to take that on, check on the Services page on the template site, since we can also do the font and style swap for you if you like. I’m also using the font Cardo in some upcoming templates, and it’s a re-rendering of Bembo, so you might want to try that one also.


    Peggy Herrington October 10, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Thanks, Joel. I think I’ll see how I like Crimson before I try swapping it. I’m pretty familiar with Word styles, but since you paired Crimson with Amaranth, you must have had a good reason.


    Faus October 8, 2013 at 10:33 am

    This is such a great article. Choosing the right font is key!!! I love your site, keep it up! :D


    Laurie September 23, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    What are your thoughts on pairing Constantia for body and Avenir Next for headline text in a college literary journal? We have indesign but no money to purchase fonts so we have to go with the packaged fonts. No Arno, no Scala, no Electra or even Bembo. Looking for readability with a touch of modernity. Which is why I was looking at Constantia, I liked the roundness, just a hint of elegance, as it has to work for poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Second choice is Minion Pro. Any other thoughts? I do love Garamond and could set at 11.5 for more readability instead of 11 for Constantia but it skews old fashioned… Thanks for any help!


    Will September 23, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Many type designers and typographic experts have a horror of Constantia—it’s only readers who seem to like it a lot. (Definitely the font preferred by almost all readers in my tests.) Minion Pro was well down in my tests of reader preference. Garamond rated higher, but still below several others, including New Baskerville and (!) Times New Roman. Remember that you can change the look of any typeface a good deal by fairly slight variations in character width, leading between characters, and spacing between lines. Elegant and readable are different concepts and not easy to reconcile. Readability is pretty important in your body typeface if you want to hold readers rather than just impress them with your aesthetic sensibility.

    Avenir is a very nice sans and I cannot see that it is in any way incompatible.


    Liz September 3, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    I don’t normally comment old blog topics, but is Garamond okay to use for a self-published book? Is there a license that is needed specifically for publishing?


    Joel Friedlander September 3, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Hi Liz,

    Garamond is a traditional book typeface used in many books, both traditional and self-published. How you can use it depends on where you got the font, but if it came with software you bought, it’s usually fine to use, there’s no specific “license” for book publishing.


    Will O'Neil August 22, 2013 at 11:50 am

    While we’re talking about good free fonts I should mention David Perry’s Cardo, a well-cut Bembo with a host of special glyphs for scholarly writers. It has both lining and old-style figures, both accessible from Word, as are a selection of standard ligatures. He also has cut true small caps, but Word cannot access them. There is a separately-cut Italic and Bold (but no Bold Italic). Altogether a very good choice even if you’re not a scholar. Perry’s site is http://scholarsfonts.net/. Download from http://www.fontspace.com/david-perry/cardo, http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/Cardo, or http://www.google.com/fonts/specimen/Cardo.


    Ben Hamatake September 25, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    I have to add my two cents in support of Cardo’s potential for book typesetting. I’ve been swooning over this font for months now, ever since I embarked on a little work of fiction which I plan to publish before the holidays—I set the body text in Cardo and just can’t get over how well it fits.

    I’ll post a sample chapter (set in Cardo) for anyone curious about how the font looks in real-life on the page.

    Thanks, Book Designer, and everyone for the great comments!


    Ben Hamatake November 11, 2013 at 12:09 am

    I’m back. Finally posted some samples, and detailed my process of choosing a book font.



    Andre August 22, 2013 at 10:08 am

    For Garamond used in interior book design, what are the relative sizes usually used for body text, page numbers, title and author name in header, and chapter title?


    Leslie August 22, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Hi Andre,
    The book titled, “The Elements of Typographic Style” has a good section on relative sizes with visual examples. It also depends somewhat on the particular cut of Garamond, the length of the line of text, and leading. Typefaces with a smaller x height are harder to read and need to be larger than those with a larger x height. It is good to try the text at a variety of sizes, print out a page and compare them for legibility before making a decision.


    Andre August 22, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Thanks, Leslie.


    Leslie August 22, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Crimson is another free font that is Open Source–so it can be used for print and embedded in an e-pub or i-book. Designed by Sebastian Kosch, and inspired by the Garamond typeface, it has old style figures, small caps, and all Latin alphabet diacritics as well as many glyphs for non-European languages. I am using it in a series design so I needed a typeface that would work with many types of subject matter and not look dated in a few years. It‘s a classic in my book. http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/Crimson


    Will O'Neil August 22, 2013 at 11:36 am

    It’s a very nice Old Style font. Neither of the cuttings I’ve found – at http://sourceforge.net/projects/crimsontext/ nor http://www.fontsquirrel.com/fonts/Crimson – actually have small caps or old-style figures at this point – it remains an aspiration so far. (There’s also a version at http://www.google.com/fonts/specimen/Crimson+Text, but Kosch warns us that it’s an early, cruder cutting.) It’s very usable within its limits right now and bears watching for for further developments.


    Leslie August 22, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    I have used the small caps, and old style figures in Crimson. They are accessible through InDesign using the open type font feature.


    Michael August 22, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Thanks Will for the link! Some of those look really interesting. Downloaded a number to test out.


    Will O'Neil August 21, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    Arkandis Digital Foundry http://arkandis.tuxfamily.org/index.html offers a range of free original fonts under modified GNU license, meaning that you can use them freely for publishing. Quality is somewhat mixed, but several of them are very good and quite suitable for book faces. Worth checking out.


    Michael August 21, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Just wanted to add a comment to the threads on Arno Pro. I have used on several book projects and really liked results; great to have so many faces and weights in the family. But I’m noticing with POD printers that at 11 point, Arno Pro doesn’t seem to get enough ink on the page for readability in the regular face. So, I have been looking for an alternative. Perpetua?


    Bonnie Driggers August 21, 2013 at 6:14 am

    Where can I buy these Bembo fonts? They are not available in any of the standard places.

    Bembo Semibold Italic OS
    Bembo Semibold OS


    Joel Friedlander August 21, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    I would have a look here for an extensive collection of Bembo styles and weights: http://www.myfonts.com/search/bembo/fonts/


    three-times August 20, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Should I use the font IM FELL English Pro for my novel? So far the book is 350 pages. If not, what else should I use?

    If possible, please give recommendations for title fonts, right now, I’m using IM FELL English Pro in italics.


    Will O'Neil August 7, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Scribus is a very capable open-source alternative to InDesign.


    Michael Wilkeson Thompson August 6, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    As an old school typographer (started in 1976 when I became a proofreader as a teenager, then learned VIP Merganthaler Phototypsetting, and Quadex setting mostly ad typography for Madison Avenue), I have an affinity for Century Schoolbook for children’s books, Bodoni Book for art books, Bulmer for horror, and Galliard for mysteries, ala The Library of America series. Bringhurst’s book, “The Elements of Typographic Style” is, to me, far and away the best book on typography, book design and font evolution and selection ever written.


    Joel Friedlander August 7, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Michael, thanks for your expert recommendations. I worked on the CRTronic in that era. Good luck with your new blog, your JFK post brought back memories of that day for me, too, when I was in high school right in Mt Vernon.


    Michael Wilkeson Thompson August 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    It’s a small world. I look forward to getting to know you, maybe working with you in the future. First I have to earn enough in book sales to afford Adobe InDesign. What a miracle the program is, but the old ways weren’t bad, I was fortunate enough to learn from old pros. My mentor told me on my first day as a proofreader when I tried to edit client text: “Follow the copy out the window!”


    Evan Ethan Avery July 21, 2013 at 9:42 am

    it helped me a lot!!!!!!!! Thx a lot, Joel!


    B Driggers June 11, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    I am trying to select fonts for use in a book of original paintings of native plants along with text describing the plants and how they can be used effectively by home gardeners (see website). After reading your article, I chose Bembo. One of our members really loves Book Antigua. Would appreciate comments/suggestions.



    Filip June 5, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    This is a very useful and learned article and I really appreciate the comments people here have made. I am a novice in typesetting with just enough knowledge to be dangerous so please bear with me.

    I have a question.

    Are there any typefaces that vary in every letter every time it is used? What I am think is that when we write by hand no two repetitions of a letter are exactly the same. Is there some sort of “dynamic font generation” software that would vary the font as you type according to some fuzzy logic algorithm? What I am thinking is that the font would have parameters fed into a parametrized curve but that a uniformly distributed pseudo-random variable could be added to each measure of arc to give each new letter some variation around its pre-defined parameters.

    Someone must surely have thought of this. But who?

    Thanks for the advice.



    Bill May 2, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    How about Wingdings?


    Will O'Neil March 30, 2013 at 11:22 am

    I recently conducted a simple experiment which I think it would be worthwhile for most self-publishing authors to repeat. I set the first leaf (two sides) of the book I’m presently working on in each of a number of typefaces, including most of those identified as being used in quality U.S.-published books today as well as those recommended here and by other authorities. The pages are formatted exactly as I expect to format the published version. I marked each sheet with a coded identifier so that there is no visible indication of what typeface is being used. Then I showed the sheets to several people who are frequent readers of books of the category I’m writing.

    I’ve only done this with four people so far, but the results are quite remarkable, for everyone without exception had exactly the same first choice: Microsoft’s Constantia! I had been supposing that typefaces are a matter of taste and tastes differ, but I seem to have been wrong, at least so far.

    No less amazing is the most-frequent second choice: TNR! Actually, TNR slightly modified to adapt it a bit better to the larger text block — 110% width, 0.2pt leading, 1.1 line spacing.

    Obviously, for many of the classic typefaces there are many different cutttings of varying quality, and I haven’t tried all. In most cases the ones I used were from Adobe and were their “pro” versions. It’s certainly possible that the results would be different with other cuttings, or with another page layout, or for a different book genre — which is why I recommend that others repeat the experiment for themselves.

    Obviously, the choices made by this sample of readers will not be supported by many book designers or typographic experts. My pragmatic view is that it’s better to appeal to those whom I expect to actually buy my book, however.


    Stephen Tiano March 28, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Will, I’m not in love with Constantia. Reminds me some of Times, which just isn’t much of a book face. Also check out the EULA to make sure it’s cool for distribution in a book (not necessarily the same as free to use).


    Will O'Neil March 28, 2013 at 9:48 am

    I wonder whether you have any comments on Microsoft’s Constantia typeface. It has a rather muscular look that seems to work well for what I’m working on now (a book on the origins of World War I), and it’s possible to exercise a good deal of control over how it’s set in Word. My most serious frustration so far is the lack of true small caps.

    One nice feature is that the license comes with Word!


    Amy Michelle Mosier March 12, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    I used Andalus for my first book. It’s dinstinct from Times New Roman.


    Duncan Long March 12, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Andalus is an interesting choice (the nearly identical Footlight MT is available in a light and regular weights). However I’m wondering what you used for the italic? Or did you let the software generate a pseudo italic?


    Jem Aspiras March 5, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    Hello, does anyone know what font was used in the book “The Magic” by Rhonda Byrne? I like it how readable and elegant.


    Francois Houle February 25, 2013 at 5:53 am

    These fonts I assume are for printed books and I wonder if there is a similar article for ebooks or if you can suggest some good fonts for ebooks. At the moment I simply use Times New Roman pt 12 and wonder if there is something better.


    Stephen Tiano December 1, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    James, take a look at something along the lines of FF Scala. It’s got a larger x-height–good for an older audience, I think–and, of course, it’s a contemporary Humanist Serif. Makes for good reading. I’ve used it with success Paired it, in fact, with Scala Sans. (I might’ve used Pro variations of each. But it’s a great superfamily.)


    Stephen Tiano December 1, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    James, is it to be a print book? To begin with, I’m fairly traditional and don’t think a book’s worth of reading on paper is best with a sans serif font. And if I were playing with the idea of a sans, no Helvetical would make the cut. It’s too … I don’t know, generic, maybe. And a condensed is a bad idea–sets too tight on the page. And an oblique? That part has to be a joke. You’re goofing on us, right? I mean, an oblique or a serif for a whole book? Your readers will curse you for the eye strain, no matter how large and how much leading. I hope you’re not paying this company a lot to print, because I can’t imagine why they’re giving you such absurd advice.


    James Oldman December 1, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Yes I made a mistake on the oblique. I was going to only use that for the few lines that into each chapter.

    Reason I asked the question was that I didn’t like the look myself and was looking for suggestions. And it is to be a print book. Will check out the FF Scala.

    Thanks for the suggestions.


    James Oldman December 1, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    I am setting up a book for distribution only within the authors family. Many of the members are over 80 so I am thinking of going with 12pt 16 pt leading. I am currently using Helvetica Neue LT Standard 57 condensed oblique as this was recommended to me by the company that will be printing.
    Does anyone have any comments if this is a good choice?


    Rosanne Dingli November 2, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    I like this too – don’t change a thing.
    I typeset for my own “Ding! Author services” and my own imprint Yellow Teapot Books, and the advice I find here is valuable, to say the least.
    As you were!


    Roger C. Parker November 2, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Dear Joel:
    Congratulations on a truly “evergreen” topic. Every time I return to this post, I find something new.

    Hard to believe it’s been engaging for over 3 years.

    Joe, How about re-approaching the topic with either “The Next 5 Favorite Serif Fonts” or “The 5 Favorite Sans Serif Fonts?”

    Glad to see the many references to Minion which always satisfies here in Dover, NH.


    Joel Friedlander November 4, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Thanks, Roger. And thats an excellent idea, I never get tired of writing about typefaces. Will have to start ruminating on my selections…


    Andreas October 27, 2012 at 5:24 am

    I use Caslon for my book.


    Stephen Tiano October 15, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Try MyFonts, Font Shop, or Adobe. There may even be serviceable open-source (free) versions, tho’ I don’t know how complete they would be. And you’d have to pay particular attention to the EULA for how free fonts may be used.


    Charles October 15, 2012 at 7:14 am

    I’m laying out a new book and discovered a font I wish to use for the text. It is 10/15 Scala. Where one might obtain this font?


    Charles October 15, 2012 at 7:14 am

    I’. laying out a new book and discovered a font I wish to use for the text. It is 10/15 Scala. Where one might obtain this font?


    Leave a Comment

    five + = 7

    { 46 trackbacks }