5 Favorite Fonts for Interior Book Design

by Joel Friedlander on August 31, 2009 · 342 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
    book-design-type-sample-garamond

  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
    book-design-type-sample-janson

  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
    book-design-type-sample-bembo

  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
    book-design-type-sample-caslon

  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
    book-design-type-sample-electra
    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?

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    { 299 comments… read them below or add one }

    Henry Baum September 25, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Garamond! Love Garamond. So much so that I’m using it as the font for the new blog.

    Reply

    Brock Deskins April 25, 2013 at 9:36 am

    It would be very useful to respond with the font size as well. One book I formatted in Palatino linotype and the other in Garamond, not realizing the Palatino is natively a larger font which increased the number pages thus cost per book. I think I will stick to Garamond , but should I use 11 point or 12? 11 puts 14-15 words per line, 12 point 12ish.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano April 25, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Brock, do you choose typefaces for any other reasons besides how much they fit on the page and, therefore, how many pages to print and how that drives the cost to print?

    Reply

    Brock E. Deskins May 7, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Foremost is its readability. I want the most comfortable font for the reader. For Garamond, it looks like 12 is a good size. For Palatino, 11 is a good size. The trouble was it was hard to tell which font/size worked best until seeing it in print. I suppose I could print off a page and see before I commit to publication.

    Reply

    Chaz DeSimone April 4, 2014 at 8:29 am

    It is essential that you print a soft proof, and it must be created on a laser printer.

    It’s also a good idea to print several paragraphs of each typestyle with different point sizes and leading. I suggest increments of half-points, so the range would be 9, 9.5, 10, 10.5, 11, 11.5, 12, 12.5, 13, 13.5, 14. The larger sizes are for scripts and other specialty typestyles that may have a smaller x-height (height of lowercase compared to caps).

    Do the same for display type as well, the larger fonts used for titles and headlines. There you want to try different letterspacing, or tracking, as well as manually kern the text.

    admin September 25, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Yes, Garamond definitely has an elegance that’s hard to beat. Will check out your new design.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano September 28, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    My list of five would be Sabon, Scala, a new one I’m dying to use: Calluna, Minion, and Stone Serif. Runner-up: Chapparal.

    Reply

    Robert February 7, 2012 at 8:05 am

    I am trying to get my hands on Scala serif family fonts for a long time.
    I have the Scala sans but not the serif. How could I get it

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander February 7, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Robert,

    Here’s a link to Myfonts.com, which carries Scala and Scala Sans:

    http://new.myfonts.com/search/scala/fonts/

    Reply

    Robert February 7, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Thanks for your quick reply.
    I was trying to get these fonts free of cost. Any idea?

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander February 7, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Robert, these fonts are copyrighted intellectual property, owned by the foundry that created and licenses them. You could write to the foundry and ask them for a free copy, or try http://www.fontsquirrel.com for similar-looking typefaces.

    Stephen Tiano February 8, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Robert, Scala and Scala Sans are fine types. I’ve used them. But what Joel says bears repeating: they’re intellectual property with copyright and the owner deserve to be paid for them. That said, there are free types that are worthwhile. I mentioned eight such typefaces in a piece on my blog some time ago. I believe I provide links thee, too. http://tianobookdesign.com/blog/?p=330

    Leslie February 8, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Robert,
    I agree with Stephen that the font’s designer, Martin Majoor, martinmajoor.com/ should be paid for his intellectual property and probably years of work on the beautifully designed and very readable font Scala. I am sure you would want people to pay for your book.

    I have used Scala on countless books and it was well worth the price. The otf version has at least 1,000 glyphs which add to the standard character set, including macrons for Asian languages. This is useful in setting type for multilingual books.

    Robert February 8, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Thanks for the info.
    I now agree with you Leslie.
    I am new to this site. I am a book designer living in the Caribbean. I have design over 400 books to date. Mostly academic and coffetable books. My main fonts I used is AGaramond, Bembo, Sabon, Stone Serif, Electra and sometimes AJanson.
    I would like to introduce a new font to my upcoming books. I came across Scala Serif and fell in love with it. I have used Scala Sans for dislay and headings for some books and thought of doing and entire book using the Scala family.
    So I think I will invest in the fonts.
    P.S. I am trying to introduce some new fonts to my work as mentioned. Getting bored of using the fonts mentioned above.
    Any suggestions for clean body text font with oldstyle numbering

    admin September 28, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    @Stephen, interesting list. I used Sabon frequently years ago, don’t know Scala, and have done several books in Minion although I seem to have gone off it in recent years. I would have bet that most designers would have one of these 5 on their “favorites” list and, once again, I would have been wrong. Thanks for your input.

    Reply

    Christy Pinheiro November 30, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Hey Joel! Thanks for directing me to this post! I have just started to realize that book designers have rabid “font” likes and dislikes– I actually saw a guy wearing a shirt that said “Helvetica”—that’s dedication! I re-tweeted!

    Reply

    admin November 30, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Thanks for stopping by, Christy. Oh yeah, don’t get us designers talking fonts, it just goes on and on… LoL Thanks for the tweet.

    Reply

    Chaz DeSimone April 4, 2014 at 8:33 am

    I’m sure there’s someone out there that would like to see every book in the universe set in Comic Sans.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano November 30, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Interesting–to me–that I clearly favor Old Style (Garalde) types for text. ANd I still like Futura and Avant Garde a lot for display, tho’ I’ve used that old saw, Gill Sans, some recently.

    Reply

    admin November 30, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    @Stephen, interesting. I was using Frutiger for several years for heads, lots of marvelous variations in the family, but just this year I’ve started going back to Futura. I wore out on Avant Garde around the same time I OD’d on Souvenir. But Gill, yeah, I could use that. The last two books I’ve done were in Janson, both chosen by clients. It was used in one of Obama’s books, and my client asked me to sample it for him.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Reply

    Karlene Cameron December 14, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Kepler, hands down.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano December 14, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Hmmm … Just looked at Kepler on Linotype’s site. I don’t like the thick strokes in the roman fonts. Somehow they look as if they don’t balance with the thi strokes. Anyone else notice this?

    Reply

    admin December 14, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    @Karlene, thanks for that. Kepler’s a new one to me. @Stephen, I saw the variation as an interesting color variation. Although the samples look interesting, it’s hard to tell what it would look like set in a block of text. But I’m glad to know about Kepler and will keep an eye out for a use. Karlene, do you use it in book work, or as display?

    Reply

    Andres Rõhu December 23, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Warnock Pro: it have all cuttings pro typographer might want to use, from display to captions and subheads. Also lights, semibolds and so on. I like this kind of pro fonts, they bring together all the languages and glyphs possible and also all typographic finesses we can found on metal cutted fonts from printing golden era. So far away from scanned and scaled Times (witch is not bad font either).

    I liked very much you top 5: many good ideas, thank you. If only they include all needed glyphs for me — in that account many font sites are misaligned and incorrect (Im estonian and working also with swedish and latvian periodicals).

    And remember, its not about what font you use, its always how you use it.

    Reply

    Chaz DeSimone April 4, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Andres, what a wonderful thing to say about fonts, or about just about anything else in life: “Its not about what font you use, its always how you use it.” So true!

    A client of mine hated Helvetica (“to plain and ordinary”) until I showed her a masterpiece of typographic art set entirely in Helvetica. Now she loves it.

    Even Comic Sans has its place (I guess).

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano December 23, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    I’m attracted to Warnock Pro for some of the same reasons Andres mentions above. I haven’t used it yet, so I can’t properly say it’s a favorite, tho’ I am about to begin a book interior with it, if UPS delivers a package from my client tonight.

    Reply

    admin December 23, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    @Andres, thanks for your comment! Warnock pro has tremendous character and flexibility, another winner from Robert Slimbach. But I’ve never thought of using it in books. Do you do book typography? To me it’s much more suitable to advertising or collateral materials, more stylized than the typical book fonts like these 5, from my perspective.

    @Stephen, what made you choose Warnock Pro, is it something to do with the book you’re working on (assuming the package arrived)?

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano December 24, 2009 at 4:08 am

    Well, Joel, I had to do the cover of this book months ago, so that it would be ready for the client’s new catalog. And for that I quickly decided to use a type with an eastern flair, Tiger Rag, for the main title. For the subtitle, then, I wanted a strong serif font, but not so overpoweringly strong as to overpower my eastern font.

    I’ve liked the solid x-height of Warnock Pro for some time now, and the proportion of x-height to the overall size of the characters (that is, x-height plus ascender) really seems to work with the same in the Tiger Rag main title.

    Once I’d decided on the Warnock Pro family for the cover (subtitle and author’s name)–and it won a super-quick approval for the cover from my client, a university press–it was easy for me to decide to use it for the book’s interior pages.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano December 24, 2009 at 4:56 am

    P.S. And, no, the UPS did not deliver package on Wednesday (which should have meant Tuesday delivery), although the client paid for two-day service. It’s not as if the package was stuck somewhere prior to the New York part of the journey. It reached Farmingville–20-25 minutes away from me on Tuesday.

    I can’t imagine what the alleged emergency was, as I was able to use the roads to get to my day job both Monday and Tuesday. neeless to say, losing two production days guarantes I’ll be workng Christmas Day. And I am m ost annoyed. Still. That’s assuming they finally deliver today.

    Reply

    admin December 24, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Hey Steve, I’m really curious now about Warnock Pro. Is your project a book with large type or a lot of leading? I can see it easily on the subtitle and author name, still can’t imagine lots of it on a page. Not to add to your workload but I wonder whether, once you’ve started laying out the book, if you could show me a page.

    Hope you get your delivery, don’t want to think of you working on Christmas if you don’t want to!

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano December 24, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Will do, Joel. It’s a WWII biography-history sort of thing. Pacific campaign vs. the Japanese. My sample pages are at 11/15. Kind of airy. I’ll let you have a look when I have some real copy down. The package arrived, but I haven’t gotten toi t yet. I’m sworn off working tonight.

    Reply

    Bill Gates January 24, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Comic Sans is a personal favourite of mine…

    Reply

    Ruth Meyer April 18, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Me too! No one else seems to have heard of it! I use it all the time. Maybe it’s a WA thing?

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander April 19, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Comic sans has received a lot of bad press. It looks perfectly good in . . . comics!

    Reply

    Daniel Freedman December 22, 2011 at 5:34 am

    I used to use Comic Sans in a number of posters – I wanted a fun, energetic approach to the information I was conveying. I never used Comic Sans as a Title because it lacks boldness. I was told that Comic Sans was terrible to read. But the real test was to see in print…..no-one uses it, except in “block-capitals” in cartoons now everyone knows – block capitals are very non-readable, unless you’re trying to make a particular point. The way I look at it is that if books printed by regular publishers don’t have it, it must be that we’re missing something…..they’re selling 10 000 copies a time, and people are buying them….they must know what they’re doing (they seem to make money off it). The first book I printed, I actually copied an existing publisher’s font-face, and I asked them permission, and they said that I could only use it, if it was clear that it wasn’t produced by that publisher – I changed the typeface because it was similar, but its a very readable, clear font. printing large amounts of text on a page and getting people to glance at it is a good way of judging if its good to use. Thats what I do.

    Reply

    Daniel Freedman December 22, 2011 at 5:34 am

    I used to use Comic Sans in a number of posters – I wanted a fun, energetic approach to the information I was conveying. I never used Comic Sans as a Title because it lacks boldness. I was told that Comic Sans was terrible to read. But the real test was to see in print…..no-one uses it, except in “block-capitals” in cartoons now everyone knows – block capitals are very non-readable, unless you’re trying to make a particular point. The way I look at it is that if books printed by regular publishers don’t have it, it must be that we’re missing something…..they’re selling 10 000 copies a time, and people are buying them….they must know what they’re doing (they seem to make money off it). The first book I printed, I actually copied an existing publisher’s font-face, and I asked them permission, and they said that I could only use it, if it was clear that it wasn’t produced by that publisher – I changed the typeface because it was similar, but its a very readable, clear font. printing large amounts of text on a page and getting people to glance at it is a good way of judging if its good to use. That’s what I do.

    Reply

    Abhaya Agarwal February 20, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Hi Joel,

    I am a newcomer to the domain of book design and typography. To an outsider without any formal training in design, all the business of font selection and laying out of text looks like some black magic. But I really liked your article and the discussion going on in comments after that since it gives some ideas about what to look at when going through this.

    Can you suggest some readings for somebody who is not intending to train as a designer but wants to appreciate the art of typesetting? I have laid my hands on “The Elements of Typographic Style” but feel like I am not ready for it yet.

    Thanks for the nice blog :)

    Abhaya

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano February 20, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Well, I was moved to have a say of my own regarding the choosing of type for designing books on my own blog at http://tianobookdesign.com/blog/?p=120

    Looking over your font choices again, Joel, I am surprised that I am just thinking to say now that I notice four of your five are in the Old Style (Garalde) classification. As I’ve noted before, that’s where I lean. Thing is, the fifth, Electra, a type in the Modern classification looks pretty nice. Then I catch the high contrast between thick and thin strokes and I’m reminded why I don’t care for Transitional or Modern typefaces.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano February 20, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Abhaya, welcome to the fraternity of typographers. DId Joel teach you the secret handshake yet?

    Reply

    Joel February 20, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Abhaya, thanks for your comment. Book design was a real specialty for a long time, so most of the books written on it were for other book designers and typographers. You might look at The Non Designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams for an introduction, then explore more from there.

    Reply

    Joel February 20, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    Stephen, I’m glad you noticed. Yes, I really prefer oldstyle faces for book work, and I like to pair them with contrasty sans or semi-serif faces for display. Not always, but it’s my tendency. I talked about this in my more recent post on 3 Great Typeface Combinations You Can Use in Your Book.

    Electra, used properly, is a face of amazing sophistication. I’ve used it principally for novels or “literary” work. It’s sweet, you should try it!

    Reply

    Joel February 20, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    Ah, the secret handshake. It’s not just pi in the sky.

    Reply

    Victor Finch April 30, 2010 at 8:09 am

    I got asked a question I’d never even given any thought to the other day, someone asked if printed book interiors always have to be set in serif fonts? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a book with sans-serif interior text, but is it a hard and fast rule? I certainly find sans-serif easier to read on screens, so I can see it as a choice for e-readers, but paper & ink may be a different matter.

    Reply

    J. Odell November 20, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    A lot depends on where you are. I’ve read repeatedly that Europe uses a lot of sans serif fonts for body text. Particularly continental Europe. In the U.S. publishers tend to stick to serif fonts. No idea what the standards are in, say Australia.

    The projects on my own site are purely hobbyist work and I’m pretty much learning as I go, but I’ve used both serif and sans serif for novel-length works. For paid commissions I think I’ve used both as well. Although those have been non-fiction.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano April 30, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Victor, I’ve heard that studies show that reading long stretches of sans serif type in print tires the eyes. The serifs actually serve to lead the reader thru a line of type. That said, I’ve lately (over the past few years) noticed a number of printed books using sans serif for main body text. Interestingly, most of the books were books related to the subject of design. All in all, I continue to use serif types for book interiors, although I still think I’d like to try what I call a “near serif,” Optima, for the right interior.

    I’d be curious, have you thought of using a sans for interior pages?

    Reply

    Victor Finch April 30, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Not personally, I was proof reading a short story and it took me a couple of paragraphs to notice he’d used Lucida Sans Unicode instead of a fixed width font for the print out. It actually looks quite good, but I can see how serifs would guide the eye along the line better, sort of a tunnel effect. He’s not a fan of serif fonts, he thinks they all look too similar. I guess he could get Lulu to knock a copy out once he’s done and see how it stands up to reading.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano April 30, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    It’s tough enough selling books; more so, for self-published books. I see no reason to potentially antagonize readers with typefaces that are trying on the eyes. (There’s a book by an author Wheidon, I think, that does some research on sans vs. serifs.) I think a designer who puts his or her own sense of making an “interesting-looking” book, above what serves readers is not really doing the job the client hired for.

    Reply

    Joel April 30, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Hey Victor, good question. Like Stephen, I’ve seen a number of books done in sans serif fonts, but they are mostly art books. Typically there is not a great deal of running text. When set in isolated blocks there’s nothing wrong with sans serif, it’s just when you get to long documents that they are problematic to my eye anyway. After all, there are many many examples of annual reports, brochures, and other types of printed material that use sans serif fonts with no trouble.

    There are a lot of fonts that have come out over the last couple of years that are “transitional” in the sense that they are modeled on oldstyle fonts and have the canted axis and varying stress in the stroke weights, but only “swell” at the terminals instead of using serifs. I don’t consider Optima a good candidate for this kind of work because I’ve seen it used for long text and I find it unappealing, but some of these new fonts might be pretty interesting to try. Thanks to both of you for the interesting conversation.

    Reply

    Andres May 1, 2010 at 2:02 am

    @Joel, good points. It can be used for interior, but needs lot more expertise to make it look good and also to be readable. I have seen a lot of epic failures, but also some good uses in regular novels. But those good uses are always linked somehow to book theme and content. Fantasy novel can more easily be set in sans serif, but not history book or classic novel.

    Personally using ITC Officina sans for one series of poetry and short stories books. But for lenghty texts it seems less usable, overall color of page tends to became too dark. Readability is quite good, and not so confusing to reader as say Helvetica.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 2, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Andres, thanks for your comment. I use ITC Officina in both the sans and the serif versions, very utilitarian fonts, they look particularly good in small sizes, although I just had to pull Officina Sans from a job I was doing because my client really hated the ampersand. Oh well. Thanks for stopping by.

    Reply

    Kevin Merrell May 13, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    Anyone tried Adobe’s Arno or Garamond Premier? Two more gems from Robert Slimbach and cousins of those on your list, Joel. I was quite pleased with the results I got with Arno.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 14, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    I just found Arno a few months ago, what a terrific typeface. I used it on a photography book that’s on press now, but I’m still getting used to it. Typographers have an odd and oddly intimate relationship with typefaces and I find it takes a while to get comfortable with a new font, get to know it’s quirks. Not familiar with Garamond Premier, although I’ve done many books in Adobe Garamond and Garamond Pro. It’s one of the most readable and malleable faces I use, and it’s pretty space efficient as well. Thanks Kevin!

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano May 14, 2010 at 4:23 am

    I’d used Garamond for years–it was the first the first serif font I purchased and added to my Mac’s resident fonts back in 1989–Futura was the first sans, purchased at the same time. I used the hell out of it on all sorts of things–this was before I was designing books. I received Garamond Premier Pro as a gift from Adobe for, I think, buying CS2 a few years baack. I used that a little too often, too. So, yes, I’ve been crazy about Adobe Garamond Premier Pro.

    As for Arno Pro, I used it on a straight layout project–it had been picked by the client (a chem book I believe it was). But I just go thru the first pass of a 1,000+-page novel I also did the design on. It has a perfect structure for being readable and usable in a lot of different ways on this novel’s many different elements (along with Scala Pro Sans). Plus Arno’s slightly compact and kept the novel from burgeoning way over the 1,000 pages.

    Altogether two of my favorites right now, even tho’ I’m determined to lay off the Garamond for a while yet, I’ve been there and done that a number of times alredy over the years.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 14, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Stephen, as I recall you are a real Garamond fan, and why not? Have you ever tried Granjon or Sabon? Granjon is the Linotype version of Garamond, but it sets a bit differently.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano May 14, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    No to Granjon. Yet. But Sabon was on my original list up above somewhere. I’ve used it on a coupla books. I went thru a period where, like with Garamond (whether ITC at first, then Adobe Pro, and finally Adobe Premier Pro), it would be the first thing I’d think of for each new project until I pulled myself away from it.

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    Kevin Merrell May 14, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Like with Arno Pro, Robert Slimbach created optical weights for Garamond Premier Pro. The letterforms start out fairly heavy and loosely kerned at the caption sizes and gradually become lighter and more tightly kerned up through text sizes, subhead sizes and display sizes, creating a sense of optical balance and evenness from one size to another. In an age of digital type design it seems reasonable to go to that much trouble to get your type right. That the master punch cutters like Garamond and Granjon perceived the need for optical sizes then cut them in metal just boggles the mind!

    As he was finishing up Adobe Garamond in 1989 the literature describes Slimbach envisioning a whole new reinterpretation of Garamond that years later would become Garamond Premier. It would be interesting to know if that reinterpretation went beyond parsing the typeface into optical variations.

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    Jeff Rose-Martland July 23, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Thanks for this! I find many people don’t pay any attention to fonts at all, which is why the use of the hated times new roman and much loathed ariel are so widespread – no one bothers to change the defaults.
    You have introduced me to 4 new fonts here, which I shall go seeking. I stumbled upon garamond by reading the frontspiece in an old novel. UK publishers used to always list the font.

    For my novel, I used 3 typefaces, each for a different reason. It made formatting hell, but well worth the result.
    1 – for general text, I used Bookman Old Style for its friendliness and easiness on the eyes.
    2 – for news items, I used Courier New, which is used by broadcast wire services.
    3 – for start of chapter quotes, I used Ariel because I needed a font which would read well in small size over short bursts.

    Since then, I default into either Garamond or Palintino Linotype, but I look forward to checking out the others!

    All the best,
    Jeff Rose-Martland
    author of Game Misconduct

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 23, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Thanks, Jeff, always nice to find something new. Your choices make sense (although I probably wouldn’t use Arial) and there’s a whole world of fonts to discover. Thanks for your input!

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano July 23, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Jeff,

    When I was a kid and I would dress myself, it wasn’t unusual for me to wear my favorite red socks, and mismatched pants and shirt. And my mom had an expression–I don’t mean to insult anyone, but it’s just a descriptive line–she’d say, “You look like gypsies dressed you.”

    Too many typeface families is typesetting that might draw that kind of a line. And I know about working on books with many diverse design elements. I just finished design and layout of a 1,000+-page novel. It had all sorts of element in it aside from straight body text: quotations, letters, newspaper articles, magazine articles, signs, and more. The idea as I saw it was to distinguish each element from all the others (obviously), but have it remain part of the “culture” of the book.

    Palatino is a default font on the Macintosh, as Arial (I believe) is on Windows machines. This has led to an overuse of these typefaces. Palatino was one of my original two or three favorite typefaces. But I had to learn to use other typeface. In fact, Garamond replaced Palatino as my favorite text face early on, when it got thru to me that if everyone had it, it was bound to be overused. But all the varieties of Garamond–and Garamond may be a misnomer; you have to check whether the Garamond you use is truly a Garamond-style type (if you care to know, that is–interesting history).

    Anyway, just a few thoughts that came to mind.

    Reply

    Jeff Rose-Martland July 23, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    I greatly appreciate your advice Stephen. I was actually just discussing this article with my wife and saying the very thing: that I am often concerned when sending out work that the recipient may not have the font I used. Having no knowledge of fonting (other than endlessly scrolling down the list in various wordprocessers over the years), articles like this are very useful!

    And I know what you mean about multiple typefaces. I try to avoid them now, especially since I have discovered what a pain they are when reformatting the text. Still, I have used multiples for artistic purposes, primarily when I needed to separate the sections. The narrative in Game Misconduct is tied together with media reports, which separate the location change between 5 different cities. It looks really good on paper.

    My finalist entry for the CBC Lit Awards (set in a call centre) used multiple fonts to indicate which conversation was taking place; the piece was all dialogue. As a literary device it worked extremely well and looks wonderful off the printer. However, using 4 different fonts caused massive headaches for both me and the magazine publisher who finally bought it. Which is the best warning of all: the use of multiple fonts, no matter how well done, may render your work unpublishable!

    For a look at Game Misconduct, check out google books:
    http://books.google.ca/books?id=ML5LqDk0wIoC&lpg=PP1&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 23, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Jeff, for an “amateur” production (in the best sense of the word) your book looks good.

    Curiously, I’ve found that many DIY self-publishers resort to this device of using several typefaces. Usually I find it unnecessary, and if the book is well-written, more of an obstacle to readers than just setting the book in one typeface. Authors always claim that they do this to make their intention clear to the reader, but I think you have to give the reader more credit. They usually know what’s going on. Sometimes a simple text break or a small ornament can be used to differentiate different sections of the book and it really isn’t necessary to have the pages jumping from one font to another. But it takes a while to learn all this stuff! Thanks for letting us see your work.

    Reply

    Jeff Rose-Martland July 24, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Thanks for the compliment Joel!

    I see what you mean about the fonts, now. There really isn’t an easy guide to fonting for writers (unless there’s one here!). My wife had to explain the difference between serif and san-serif to me, and I bet she only knows because she’s a visual artist! With the rapid expansion of ebooks and self-publishing, this knowledge is certainly more essential. I too have found that the ‘artistic reasons’ for fonting often are the result of weak writing or immaturity; like drawing hearts of the ‘i’ in your name. The other reason is probably a simple lack of knowedge of layout. I’ve gone up the steep learning curve, but I bet many take one look at the hill and park. I don’t often see ornament breaks in modern work, but frequently do in early pulp and sci-fi. I bet a lot of writers never even think of it.

    Again, thanks for the compliment. It means a lot!

    Reply

    Andres July 24, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Jeff, my compliments, too: gorgeous work for first try. You might be interested in Robert Bringhursts “The Elements of Typographic Style” — author is poet and writer itself. Its pretty hard at first moment, but you cant live without it after reading it once. I met him once in our country ant going to see him at ATYPI conference in Dublin soon — his insight is beautiful and well argumented, too.

    Joel Friedlander July 23, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    That sounds like quite a project, Stephen. I usually think of novels as the simplest, typographically, but yours is anything but. I’m doing a book right now that the author wanted in 3 or 4 typefaces, but by using other ways to distinguish the various sections, I’ve managed to keep in one body face with only small sections in a second typeface.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano July 23, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Well, it was a big project. Or I should say it is a big project, as it’s not quite complete. Next week I should receive some of the author-publisher’s cover ideas that he put together in Microsoft Publisher. (He’ll make PDFs to send me.)

    My client, at first, was thinking about multiple typefaces. I told him my “dressed by gypsies” story and he got the point immediately. So I was able to go my usual route: a serif for body type and most longish elements; sans serif for display items and specialized, short text passages. For this novel I chose Arno Pro as my serif and Scala Sans for (duh) the sans. It’s sometimes fun to use a superfamily that has been designed with both a serif and a sans serif for a real unified look, tho’ I generally think this can sometimes seem too programmed. An exception, for me, was a student guide I just finished, in which I chose to use Jos Buivenga’s Fontin and Fnntin Sans families.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 23, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Stephen, I think it’s really attractive (for the right book, of course) to use a family of serif & sans, for instance in academic books. I love Arno but haven’t used Scala Sans much at all. Fontin Sans I just discovered last year, and have used it several times on cover designs and as display type, chapter headers and the like. It’s a beautiful face. Right now I’m still exploring Chapparal, which I re-discovered after writing the Carol Twombly piece, and have a book going to press set in it, can’t wait to see the finished product.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano July 23, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    I should go thru my archives–tho’ it’s such a long, tedious process, digging out CDs and DVDs, decompressing files, and checking what typefaces I used–because I believe I used Chapparal for a book a year or two back (after reading something somewhere else about Carol Twombly).

    Looking thru all these new (to me) designers commening here, I’m wondering if I should run another edition of my 4 Questions for Designers on my blog. I’ve learned so much more about type and typography since then that I would love to see some new takes on the subject. I wonder, too, whether anyone who answered previously has anything changed to say.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 24, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    I don’t know if I remember that, Stephen, it sounds interesting. How does it work?

    Reply

    Andres July 24, 2010 at 1:22 am

    It is bit confusing how the word “display” is used: for me, it describes special font cutting for bigger sizes, not for using some font for headings.

    Look Arno Pro and Warnock Pro — both have special cuttings (display) for bigger sizes. Display means much more refined character rendering, just take and try with those two fonts. Naming say Arial “display” have no sense, since it does not have any different cutting for this.

    Joels Fontin makes more sence in this context, seems very good indeed for “sans” companion and headings (and has good italic, too). And again cause of refined rendering…

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano July 24, 2010 at 5:44 am

    Andres, you are correct insofar as talking about typefaces. A specifically designed Display font is just so. But there is another way to use the word “display,” as the context reveals, and that is in referring to the material that is typeset. Display material includes heads, of course, but also othe non-bosy text items, such as tables, signage, and such.

    Reply

    Andres July 24, 2010 at 5:56 am

    Thanks, Stephen: I supposed there is another meaning.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 24, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Thanks for the clarification, Stephen, that’s exactly how I was using the term. I do love those fonts that come with “display” variants, too!

    Reply

    Jeff Rose-Martland August 3, 2010 at 8:49 am

    I just discovered that, of the fonts listed, only Garamond is in the Windows pack. Not an issue for self-publishing, but a heads up for submissions: if you use a font not in the default pack, you run the risk of the recipient not having the font on their system, meaning your formating may be off when they substitute one of the defaults.

    Reply

    Jason Jones August 10, 2010 at 9:20 am

    It would be wonderful if you would do your articles in a way that they are easy to print out and save. or share. Like have them in a PDF.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander August 10, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    That’s a great idea, Jason, thanks. Especially the posts with samples of typography would be nice in PDF.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano August 10, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    There’s actually a WordPress add-on that attaches a button to each new blog entry that creates a PDF of the entry on the blog reader’s computer. But you need to be careful and investigate, because it’s one of the things my tech guy told me to ditch after I was hacked into. I still think it was done thru carelessness going online on my then-new laptop via unprotected WiFi, tho’. And it did work flawlessly as far as distilling PDFs.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander August 11, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Hey, that sounds interesting Stephen. Do you by any chance remember what the plugin was called?

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander August 11, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Also, Jason, if you just want the text without the images (not a good solution, I know) you can use the “send to print friendly” button in the “sharing is sexy” buttons at the bottom of the post, and it will print or create a PDF of the article.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano August 11, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Sorry, Joel. I’m trying to remember, but I just can’t seem to. I just did a quick Bing search–I’m thru with Google and Chrome until they stop making a goof out of their “Do no evil” motto by pushing for corrupting the equal access thing of the Internet, and I recommend everyone else boycott all things Google–for the plugin. To no avail.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander August 11, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Well, thanks Stephen, I bet I could find it.

    Not sure how your boycott is going. They were still ranked #1 on Alexa as of today. I guess I should find out what the little gnomes have been up to.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano August 11, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    I don’t want to redirect the purpose of your blog and the comments generated by this piece in particular, but Google’s come out against net neutrality essentially. They’re for a two-tier system, with big business and corporations having all the broadband and speed and the rest of us having a slow pathway to the ‘net.

    Reply

    Abhaya Agarwal August 12, 2010 at 7:12 am

    Hey guys!

    Sorry for blowing my own trumpet but perhaps this can be useful: http://blog2book.pothi.com

    You only need to specify the URL of the blog and how many posts you want etc. You can choose which posts you want and it will create an e-book for free. I will love to get your feedback on the service!

    Regards,
    Abhaya

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano August 12, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Methinks you’re missing the point of this discussion: the question is about a simple plug-in to WordPress that will allow one to turn a particular piece on a blog into a PDF.

    As an aside, using a Gothic flavored typeface for your headline and that funky font for your body text would not give the casual observer a great deal of confidence in your typographic skills. (I don’t mean to be an ass or unkind; I’m just trying to explain that if you’re going to “blow your own trumpet,” you need to make sure your presentation is up to snuff, else you may unintentionally turn away prospects before they’ve had a chance to see your wares.)

    Reply

    Abhaya Agarwal August 12, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Hi Stephen,

    I think the original problem was to have a easy way to share the articles. One good way is if Joel creates PDFs for a selected category or of selected posts and provides them for download. Not like a WordPress plugin but might prove to be useful to new readers who get a collection of the best articles posted till date!

    That aside, let me accept right away that I am quite bad with these things. I don’t have much typographic skills to talk of, so the casual observer would have guessed right :). Having said that, did you try out the app? I think I have used pretty standard stuff inside – a Serif for the headings and a sans for all other text. I would be happy to send you guys the print-ready PDFs that we generate to get your feedback on them. I have tried to include whatever little I know about book typesetting and could implement.

    Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it. Will try to find something more sober for the first screen also :)

    Regards,
    Abhaya

    Reply

    andres August 12, 2010 at 9:31 am

    May it be this plugin?
    http://en.pdf24.org/wordpress-pdf.jsp

    best
    a

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano August 12, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Neither is the one–I don’t remember having the resulting PDF emailed anywhere. However, they do sound perfectly serviceable for what we’re talking about. I just remember the one I found simply deposited the PDF on my computer’s desktop.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander August 15, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Thanks for all the suggestions. I plan to try some of these PDF makers out when I get a chance and I’ll write up the results on my blog.

    Reply

    Leslie August 31, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    RE: favorite book fonts
    Scala, Minion, Filosofia
    They work also on coated paper stock and don’t have too much contrast which can make reading difficult.

    Reply

    Eric October 7, 2010 at 2:16 am

    What font do you recommend for children’s books?

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 7, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Call me old fashioned, but my favorite is Century Schoolbook. Any easy to read typeface with clear and classic letterforms ought to work, though. Thanks for the question, Eric.

    Reply

    Tara November 8, 2010 at 8:04 am

    I love New Aster for interior layout, as well as Sabon; and Scala Sans for headings. Avenir is also a very nice, solid sans-serif choice.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander November 8, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Tara, thanks for you input. I haven’t used New Aster in years, but now you’ve got me thinking . . .

    Reply

    Nakia Laushaul December 3, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Hi Joel,

    I’ve found that I absolutely love Garamond and Bembo would be a close second. As a newbie, I’m just beginning to explore and experiment with other fonts so I love the discussion here!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander December 3, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Nakia,

    Garamond is an all time favorite and one of the most popular book fonts for a long time, you can’t go wrong there. Bembo is beautiful but I’ve found needs care and I wouldn’t use it at small sizes. But for reading, it’s terrific. Good luck with your project.

    Reply

    Leslie December 3, 2010 at 10:38 am

    I just purchased Arno Pro and hope to use it in the next project. It works well at smaller sizes.

    Reply

    Tara December 3, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Arno Pro is a lovely font, plus comes with many usable faces. A great choice for a history-based book, as it seems to have a bit of an antiquity look to it.

    Reply

    Leslie December 3, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Tara,
    Yes, I agree with you that it is good for history and scholarly manuscripts. It seems that it would also print well on a matte coated stock and not be to contrasty for easy reading.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander December 3, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Tara and Leslie,

    Arno Pro is a great choice, very easy to read and works well in a variety of situations. I just used some Arno Pro on a book jacket and my client loved it.

    Thanks for your input here!

    Reply

    Linda M Au December 30, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Late to the party (but always the life of it)… I’ve done typesetting for several decades and know just enough to be dangerous. I can’t believe nobody’s blown the horn for one of my favorites, Palatino! Although I adore Garamond as an all-purpose text typeface, I decided to use Palatino for my self-published book of humor essays. It feels like a slightly more “fun” typeface for humorous content. I also love seeing something light and airy like Berkeley Book for classic literature.

    I just typeset a book for a client who asked for Hoefler, which I think worked well for her cozy mystery.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano December 30, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    When I got my first Macintosh back in 1989, Palatino was the first serif type I took a shine to. Because it was one of the typefaces that came with the Mac, I used the hell out of it. But so did a lot of other people. I mean, it comes for free with the system, so, of course, it’s going to be used an awful lot. Makes no difference that it’s an attractive font. Book design requires a little bit of distinction. The other thing about Palatino is that it’s kind of “corporate-looking” and really isn’t suited to books.

    I still use it, however, on all my hard copy correspondence.

    Reply

    Linda M Au December 30, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Well, that was over twenty years ago (I was using a Mac at work back then too, though I’m a PC person myself), and I don’t see it all over the place anymore. I wouldn’t use it to typeset a novel or a nonfiction book with some seriousness to it. But honestly, it looks just right for a book of Bombeck-esque family humor essays.

    I also use it for our weekly church bulletins because it has a solidness to it and it stands up well to photocopying on a so-so copier without the letters breaking up. :)

    Reply

    Kevin December 30, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    Palatino was also one of my first favorite text faces.

    Has anyone tried Aldus nova Com Book? This is part of Hermann Zapf’s re-drawing of Palatino in 2005 and is focussed on gracefully setting book text.

    If you like Palatino you might be interested in what Palatino has become. Zapf has dramatically expanded Palatino nova into a super family, complete with more weights of the serif family, a sans family and an informal family.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander December 31, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Hey Kevin, thanks for that tip. I didn’t know about the Palatino “nova” before but it’s one of the biggest type families I’ve ever seen, each with some of the distinctive Palatino details.

    I never thought much of Palatino as a book face, and someone remarked recently that it was originally designed as a display face. As Stephen says above, it certainly was beaten to death for about 20 years although it seems less common these days. Thanks for the contribution.

    Reply

    Hayden December 31, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Does anyone know the font used in the book EVERMORE by Alyson Noel? It’s used in a variety of other books, as well. Any help would be much appreciated.

    Reply

    Leslie December 31, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Speaking of fonts, here is an article on the top ten typefaces used by book design winners for the years 2005–2008. http://tinyurl.com/5lzznu

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander December 31, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Leslie, thanks for that terrific link. I see that Adobe Garamond and Electra both were in the top 10, no surprise there, but there’s lots of inspiration for book typographers on the list.

    Reply

    Austin Briggs February 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Very interesting. I’m now deciding between Caslon and Mrs. Eaves for my book.

    What do you guys think of Mrs. Eaves? It seems to have a bit more character on the page vs. Caslon. However, it also appears a little more erratic with spacing.

    Which one is easier on the eyes for a sustainable read?

    Reply

    Tara Mayberry February 16, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Austin: Mrs. Eaves is an elegant, old fashioned-looking font that I’ve used many times for invitation designs (it has beautiful small caps), but never for a book interior. I think it’s completely readable, but is small and short, and might not be as mainstream readable as Caslon would be. It would depend on the subject matter, though — something in the historical genre may work very nicely with this font, but if it’s modern or business-related, then no. Hope that helps.

    Reply

    Leslie February 16, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Hi Austin,

    ”Anthill”, a novel by E.O. Wilson was typeset in Mrs. Eves. It is very legible IMO. (at least I read it in two days.) The designer used more leading than normal, which I think helped with readability. You can control the spacing with Indesign type controls.

    Reply

    Austin Briggs February 16, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Hi Tara, Hi Leslie,

    Thanks for your opinions. I’m on the brink of going with Mrs. Eaves, and your perspectives help a lot. Tara, I agree with you on the context. My book is a historical adventure; this font seems to enhance the feel of the period as you say. The fit seems natural.

    Leslie, thanks for your advice on the leading. I’ll discuss this idea with the designer, who’s an excellent professional and has done wonders this far.

    Reply

    Tara February 16, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Oh, yes, an historical adventure would be lovely in Mrs Eaves. Good luck with your book! :)

    Reply

    Leslie February 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Austin,

    Your book designer might also have other font suggestions that they have used in the past for historical novels. There are many choices so no need to get locked into just two.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander February 16, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    It’s almost like a “type advisory board” here, and I appreciate the knowledgable comments very much. I haven’t used Mrs. Eaves, but it has an interesting period look and I’ve put it on my list to have a closer look at.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano February 16, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Opinions are split on Mrs. Eaves for book text. I liked it, but before using it nosed around to find out what other designers thought about it. What I learned kind of spoiled it for me, at least for body text. Perhaps I’m too open to suggestion, but after reading other people saying Mrs. Eaves is gappy and can result in wordspacing that’s wide, sure enough, that’s what I noticed in my own samplings of text blocks. Wide wordspacing is the thing that I most dislike seeing in full justified text. So I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone for book typesetting unless they planned to take the time to check into the precise type size/line length combination that minimized the chances of wide wordspacing.

    Reply

    Layne February 16, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    What do you think of Calisto for poetry? I am laying out two poetry books. I think a feeling of spaciousness should be a subliminal element in these books. I do like Garamond, but I have seen Calisto used for poetry and it was quite nice.

    Reply

    Nicholas Lamme April 26, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    I realize that this post is a bit old… but I just discovered this page :) So, if anyone still cares.

    I am fond of the following:
    1. Garamond family fonts
    2. Bergamo Pro
    3. Caslon
    4. Warnock Pro
    5. I like Arno, but… it is not as easy to read as others.
    6. I just recently tried Adobe Text Pro in a book that is going to press early May. I like it, I think. Has anyone else used it for anything? What do you think?

    On the subject of Warnock Pro: Warnock pro is a very readable font. I have used it in two publications already as the main type face. It has very defined serifs that allow the eye to follow the text easily. It is also ascetically pleasing. At least, it is to me. Here is a sample chapter of a book we published a year or so ago. It’s in Spanish, because that’s what we do. But I think anyone will get the idea.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1886014/Warnock.pdf

    Yours,
    Nick

    Reply

    Paula May 19, 2011 at 3:51 am

    For the interior text in my new novel, my publisher, who will be using Lightning Source for the pod printing, has suggested Garamond (but it prints too light, I’ve seen, in pod), Goudy Old Style (it too has fairly thin letter portions and thus prints a bit light), Callisto MT (looks thick enough, a bit TNRoman but probably reads easily). Bookman Old Style or Book antiqua or (possibly) Palatino linotype look perhaps possibilities too. I don’t have available here a Minion or Sabon to check out, but I’ve known designers who like them for book interiors. The darkness/density and readability of a font is very important to me, though it should look good too–so that it will in effect help draw the reader through the story. You all are so expert; can any of you suggest which fonts to use for this, for LS pod printing? Thanks.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano May 19, 2011 at 4:01 am

    Paula, I’m not in favor of using typefaces that come with a computer because they’re so ubiquitous, people–readers–use them all the time and they therefore may already have attached certain meanings of their own to those types, based on their usage. Minion, too, is very popular; I haven’t used it myself in sometime, tho’ I doubt you can go wrong with it. And Sabon is a great, great type that I’ve used a number of good times to good effect.

    Reply

    Paula May 19, 2011 at 4:34 am

    Stephen, thank you. Would you say this is true for the Adobe (or a number of other, proprietory) versions of these fonts–e.g. Callisto (if there is a non-pc-standard/loaded version of it)? I like Sabon but may be a bit thin for pod? I do like Minion; is there a version particularly useful for pod interior for an easily readable novel? I hope these are not too many questions; you and others here are so amazingly knowledgeable it is gift for us authors!

    Reply

    J. Odell November 20, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Yup. My knee-jerk reaction is to avoid like the plague any typeface that ships with an operating system.

    Not because the fonts are bad. Because generally speaking they are not. They are sturdy, generic typefaces that hold up to all kinds of abuse.

    BUT. No matter how much work you put into the project, the fact that everyone who sees it already has and uses that typeface for all kinds of things *himself*, is going to give the impression that somebody’s secretary threw it together without very much thought or consideration. It is just not going to look like a *professional* piece of work. And even if someone isn’t a professional, if they are taking it to print, they want it to *look* as if it is.

    Reply

    Kevin May 19, 2011 at 4:26 am

    Paula, From what you’re describing you might find Dolly from Underware interesting. John D. Barry wrote a favorable review on it:

    http://www.creativepro.com/article/dot-font-a-book-typeface-with-flourishes-

    I’ve used Dolly for a couple of memoirs with good results. Nice small caps and a graceful italic among other things.

    Reply

    Paula May 19, 2011 at 4:42 am

    Thank you very much, Kevin. I’ve looked up Dolly in Barry’s review and it certainly sounds right, though the examples he gave look–online–a bit TNR-stiff, but this may well be very good in print. Certainly, his points re going back to what fonts were made to look like before they became spindly gray in digital printing are right on! Thank you again. I’ll look into this.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano May 19, 2011 at 4:42 am

    Well, remember, Paula, I started out in s slightly different direction than you asked from. You were asking about light on the page. My reservation about any types that come native on a computer is that they are used too much for everyday things by people. For instance, Palatino is my letter-writing and invoice type. It was my very first favorite sans serif type back in 1989 when I got my first Macintosh. But it has meaning to me–my own letters and invoices–that I can’t shake for purposes of book typesetting, which, of course, are always way different than my own letters and invoices. As for light on the page, I always run a sample of my own–will LS show you any type samples on the type of printed page they will output for you?

    Reply

    Paula May 19, 2011 at 4:59 am

    Stephen, thank you! I have to go through the publisher but I’m pretty sure she can get LS to send some printed-output type samples. I’d seen two on a particular book they’d done for her in pod, which in fact warned me to use care on this. The publisher has sent me some pdf sample pages — Garamond, Goudy Oldstyle, and Callisto — but you are right, this does not say what the LS pod output will look like (on white standard tradebookpb paper). I shall request she ask LS for a sample page of the Callisto, of Minion pro regular, perhaps of Caslon, perhaps of (Kevin’s suggested favorite here) Dolly if they have it. This is an excellent idea. This is a great blog!

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano May 19, 2011 at 5:05 am

    My blog’s not half-bad either on book book design, freelancing and such, Paula.

    Reply

    Kevin May 19, 2011 at 5:28 am

    If you have Minion Pro as an option, Paula, you might also take a look at the Medium weight which apparently was designed to give a bit more weight than the Regular face to a page of text. Same smooth color on a page.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander May 19, 2011 at 8:47 am

    Paula, thanks for the question, and thanks also to Stephen for his great type advice. I think it’s important to realize that these are almost entirely personal preferences. For instance, I recently typeset a 584-page memoir in Adobe Garamond Pro that was printed at Lightning Source, and the book is gorgeous (well, I’m prejudiced, but still).

    Minion is certainly an excellent book font, but the typographic design would have a huge influence on whether I would use Minion regular or medium because I would want to control the type color of the page and page size, font size, leading and margins all have a big effect on perceived type color.

    I haven’t run into any typefaces that don’t work well in digital printing, which is often a bit sharper than offset. I experimented with this recently by setting a book in Electra, one of my favorite typefaces for novels and literary nonfiction, yet it printed just fine at LSI.

    You might also look at Warnock Pro which is a bit heavier than Garamond. For all the reasons Stephen cited, I would not set a book in Palatino unless it was requested.

    Hope that helps!

    Reply

    John December 19, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    Two questions ..
    1) What are good font choices for an ebook on Kindle?
    2) What font choices would be good in Linux (such as Ubuntu.com)? The default installed fonts are Open Fonts rather than proprietary such as Adobe listed here. More and more people are going to Linux (stability, cost, less hardware overhead) as well as document processing on LibreOffice/OpenOffice (fonts depend on OS installed, and LibreOffice will pick up Windows fonts if used there). Examples that I see similar to the ones on your post include: (URW Bookman, Century Schoolbook, Gentium Book, Georgia, URW Palladio, and maybe Nimbus Roman).
    I’m currently writing a novel using URW Bookman but will change it prior to publishing on the Kindle – it gives me an atmosphere feel writing it but I don’t think it translates to the Kindle.

    Reply

    Paula May 19, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Steve, Kevin, Joel—thank you! Your suggestions are beyond invaluable. I shall take this information to my publisher, who has been fine about working with me on earlier design questions, like page size, paper color, margins, and decorative fonts (except about using Castellar on the cover); hopefully, she will get LS (LSI now?) to send some samples. Kevin, I’ll look at the medium as well as the regular of the Minion pro. And Joel, I’d definitely look into Warnock Pro–and also check out which Garamond font the publisher’s been using–though I think it’s the Adobe (pro) version. Stephen, I shall look further into your blog on these other issues—right now my other big issue is finding a good fiction publicist! Again, thank you all very very much.

    Reply

    Iin Pudjilestari July 5, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    I love Bembo, I but I don’t like its italic typeface. I think it’s too “sharp”. Calluna is very similar to Bembo, and its italic is “softer”.

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    Rosanne Dingli November 30, 2011 at 12:03 am

    This was very timely. Bembo is one of those fonts that whips me back to the time I used to typeset, back to front, in lead type.

    No, I’m not 104.

    Reply

    Leslie November 30, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Fantastic, Rosanne. The hot metal typesetters really understood typography. I loved Bembo too but miss the original since the digitized version is so spindly.

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    Stephen Tiano December 20, 2011 at 1:24 am

    First, you’re welcome, Paula. And as for a fiction pblicist, try asking around on Yahoo’s Self-Publishing Group.

    John, does it really matter what typeface you use for an ebook? I mean, the big thing about e-readers is that the (human) reader can change fonts and adjust type size. So this kind of throws off any design choices one might make. In fact, that’s the chief reason I’m still leery of doing ebook version of print books.

    Reply

    Leslie December 20, 2011 at 7:53 am

    John,

    I am designing an ebook using Gentium Book because it is open source and has the full extended character set for accented letters, etc. Many fonts do not include those and they come in as character substitutions.

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    Stephen Tiano December 20, 2011 at 8:19 am

    So, Leslie, how do you feel about the fact that e-readers allow the human reader to change your chosen fonts and type size? I mean, I understand how it’s nice for a person to read comfortably. But what’s the point of designing an ebook if it can’t stand as the designer intended?

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    Leslie December 20, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Stephen,
    I don’t believe that the point of an ebook is to replicate the printed book–unless it is a fixed layout ebook. Ebooks are an entirely different reading experiences and as you say the e-reader device itself establishes the look and feel more than the designer. The design part comes into play with how the designer tags the CSS style sheets. The text is reflowable depending on the size chosen and the book will look different on all devices depending on screen size. So, for an ebook it isn’t what it looks like but how it works. They are more like websites in that respect than books. Having said that I think that the user interface for most e-readers is mediocre and could be improved.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano December 20, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Well, yeah, Leslie, I’m talking “fixed” layout books–print books being brought over to e-readers. See, that’s my problem with ebooks, they already tend to be mere containers for words and–I guess–graphics. Add in the ability for readers to change fonts and type size, and there really is no there there.

    A printed book, however, is more than that: a tangible art object above and beyond its contents. Will anyone ever be thrilled to find a first-edition ebook somewhere the way it’d be a big deal to find a first edition printed, say, The Great Gatsby or Moby Dick?

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander December 21, 2011 at 10:19 am

    There are, in fact, two kinds of fixed layout e-books you can create right now. There’s the PDF which has been almost impossible to sell outside of information marketing. But there’s also a fixed layout ePub that displays beautifully on an iPad and which maintains the designer’s typography and layout. And I don’t think it will be long before the advances in HTML and ePub start to give us tools to create good looking e-books. But, of course, they are still digital and can’t replace or even replicate (despite all the money spent on page-turn animations) the experience of holding an actual book. I think that’s one of the reasons print books will be around for a long time.

    Reply

    Leslie December 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Yes, I doubt they will ever replicate a finely produced first edition book and they are not meant to be a substitute for a tactile experience. But for many people who are not bibliophiles they work for reading.

    Reply

    Abayomi January 4, 2012 at 8:21 am

    I’ve been reading almost every comment on this piece because my book is currently in the design phase and I never knew it’s time-consuming to choose a font combo. My designer chose Berkeley but I need a font that will match Berkeley as a Chapter Title, Chapter Number, pull quote, Subheadings, etc. Pls help.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano January 4, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Abayomi, I’m rather surprised your book designer didn’t also select a compatible sans serif for his or her design. I know when I design a book I generally consider it an integral part of the job to choose a type (usually a sans) for display heads and such.

    Okay, so when you say Berkeley, I’m assuming you mean Berkeley Old Style and not Goudy’s Berekeley of his University of California types, yes? In which case, depending on your book’s material, if it’s not something to exotic, I would go with Univers, I think, or Futura. I admit, tho’, that I am still a fan of Avant Garde, about the first typeface I ever noticed and used from the types that came with my first Macintosh and Apple LaserWriter, way back in the 20th century.

    Reply

    Abayomi January 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Hi Stephen,

    Thanks for the advise. The designer did have other fonts but the problem is I don’t like the choices and the designer doesn’t have the fonts I would like.

    I’ve checked out “Futura Book BT” and I think I like it for chapter title but I don’t know if there is a bold version of it or the font itself is bold enough.

    That said, will “Univers” be good for pull quotes? My book is on self-management, inspirational & motivational.

    Thank you again.

    Reply

    Abayomi January 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Hi Stephen,

    Thanks for the advise. The designer did have other fonts but the problem is I don’t like the choices and the designer doesn’t have the fonts I would like.

    I’ve checked out “Futura Book BT” and I think I like it for chapter title but I don’t know if there is a bold version of it or the font itself is bold enough.

    That said, will “Univers” be good for pull quotes? My book is on self-management, inspirational & motivational.

    Thank you again.

    Reply

    Chaz DeSimone April 4, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Stephen, Avant Garde was such a fun typeface “in its day” and it is making a comeback. But today it’s not cleverly set using all the alternates, like the real designers did a few decades ago. When used “straight” it has a friendly, modern geometric character, unlike the round but harder “metallic” Futura or the deco-looking Kabel.

    And it came to my rescue! I am a very good logo designer, but once in awhile I am stumped when combinations of letter just don’t lend themselves to a unique but logical assemblage or fit. Thanks to Avant Garde, and thanks to the fact that it is a rather timeless face by now, I was able to successfully create the logo for Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul). You can see the logo at http://markvictorhansen.com.

    Two things that rattle my aesthetic sensibilities are slanting the perfect circles of Avant Garde for italics (it’s okay in body copy when an italic word is needed) and — argggghhh — the condensed version.

    I’ve enjoyed your posts immensely, Stephen.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano January 4, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    You’re welcome, Abayomi. I’ve worked with a number of different versions of Futura, including the BT. Both the BT and the flat out Adobe Futura are Paul Renner’s designs. I just find the the plain Futura’s letterforms more pleasing in shape in a subtle way. There are definitely fonts in Adobe’s Futura series that are bold enough. I would suggest starting with the Extra Bold and work back. For short tiles, perhaps, or just chapter numbers the Extra Bold itself might be what you’re looking for. That said, however, tho’ I don’t often use the Univers family, it is an old favorite, as some of my earliest work–layout only, that I didn’t design–was technical/science-related that used a range of the Univers family. And I liked how it was used in that work.

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    Rachel Morgan January 9, 2012 at 12:50 am

    Important LEGAL question:
    For these five fonts listed here (Garamond, in particular, as that’s the one I’m interested in), do I have to get permission/purchase a licence in order to use the font in a printed book that will be for sale?
    Thanks!
    This is a fantastic blog. I often check it out when browsing the web.

    Reply

    Richard Sutton January 13, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Joel — Great article. Thanks for the discussion. As another old guy who still owns a Haberule ( No one remembers, do they?), any discussion of typography is a wonderful thing to indulge in. Now, can you do a follow-up which discusses your favorite fonts for screen reading for those of us interested in formatting for eBook publishing?

    I actually like some of the fonts that came with Windows 7. What are your choices?

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander January 24, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Hi Richard, thanks for your comment. Haberule? I still have mine, and still use my Schaedler rules almost every day. Haven’t seen any Rubylith around lately, though.

    I don’t design ebooks, so I may not be the one to ask. I use Verdana on the blog because, after much experimenting, it seems the easiest and most inviting to read.

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    Gemma Fasheun January 24, 2012 at 11:16 am

    I don’t know how you come up with this top 5 list, but in my oppinion as a writer and reader not a publisher is that type font is all about personal likes and dislikes. I don’t like Garamond. I hate Arial and Times New Roman. Now I use Harlow Solid Italic on my computer but unfortunatelly I know that when I’ll publish my book it won’t be written with that font cause it will not be accepted no matter how much I like it. Other fonts that I like are: Baskerville Old Face, Calisto MT, Consolas and Freestyle Script.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander January 24, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Hi Gemma,

    Thanks for your comment. I don’t know Harlow Solid Italic, but it would be most unusual to typeset an entire book in italic, and I’m not sure readers would thank you.

    As for how I came up with this list, it’s simple: from designing, typesetting and producing hundreds of books over a 30-year period. And they are just my personal opinions, as you can tell from the comments from other designers.

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    Richard Sutton January 24, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    LOL! Rubylith! The other day, I was cleaning out a shelving unit in my basement. An old drawing instruments case I used to use fell off a stack of old copies of AD Annuals and my Ulano swivelknife rolled out! I can’t imagine where I’d even get replacement blades now. What do I do with my set of fine Pelikan pens? I’m sure all the nibs are shot after twenty years! Thanks for keeping us old-timers connected, though. It’s not all obsolete, as this post proves!

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    Richard Sutton January 24, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Gemma;
    Favorite text fonts are usually chosen by publishers and printers for their legibility in sizes of 10 – 11 point and the least eyestrain, page after page, for readers. In considering which fonts to use for the text, book designers must choose fonts appropriate for the medium , either screen or paper. If it’s paper, not all fonts are equally good in print, there are some really only useful for headlines, chapter headings, etc. Times New Roman may not satisfy every readers artistic sense when it comes to the design, but it is one of the very best fro both legibility and reduced eyestrain. Arial, is a fully “hinted” face derived from Helvetica (the 1960s primary font in advertising and corporate text) which is especially legible on screen. A typeface that is enjoyed for its artistic design, ligatures, caps and numerals, may not be one that can be read as text without driving the readers eyes batty! It takes lots of carefully considered decisions to create a book design that really works for the book as well as the readers.

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    Gemma Fasheun January 24, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Why readers wouldn’t enjoy italic fonts to read?

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    Richard Sutton January 24, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Gemma;
    I’d defer to Joel here, but in my own experience, reading more than a paragraph of italics, in any font, will give most readers a headache! It’s hard for the eye to move from line to line in an italic font, as it is hard to resolve the first character of the next line, IMHO.

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    Gemma Fasheun January 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Interesting. I don’t find it hard to follow. Your anwer amaze me because I know most people when they write they do it in italics somehow. At least I don’t know any person that would write someting down on paper in Arial or Times New Roman style.

    Reply

    Kevin Merrell January 24, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    One widely-held belief regarding the choice of fonts is that people are often most comfortable reading material set in the fonts they’re used to reading. For example, in Gutenberg’s time most of the printed books were set in blackletter fonts, what we now often call Old English. Generations of readers grew up experiencing blackletter fonts as the only fonts they were comfortable reading.

    Nowadays, italic letters are generally used as a means of gracefully emphasizing one or two words in a block of text without shouting. Like Richard observed, part of font choice has to do with scale. While I can imagine Harlow Solid Italic as a smashing headline for the right layout, it probably would struggle over the course of whole pages set at 10, 11 or 12 point size. Still, given the modest cost of print-on-demand services such as Lulu.com, I see no reason you couldn’t set your book in Harlow Solid Italic and have a copy printed.

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    Gemma Fasheun January 24, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    I use Harlow Solid Italic for titles 18 and the rest to 14. It looks great like that and not hard to read. If they are smaller it’s true it’s much harder to read but that only because they are smaller not because they are italic. Well I love old style of writing but not old english language which is like reading in japanese when I have no clue how to do it. That’s a reason I don’t like Dickens at all.

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    Anders January 26, 2012 at 6:05 am

    Hello! It is with great interest that I read your articles … Now, I have a question: Would it be plain stupid to do a whole novel in Georgia? There’s just something about it that I like, but I’m new to all this and wouldn’t know about the disadvantages of choosing this particular font … Thanks. A.

    Reply

    Sophie Dawson February 8, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    Your article and choices are great. I’m using Cochin at the moment and really like it. It looks a lot like those you use but for some reason (don’t ask me why) I prefer it.

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    Jeffrey Dobkin February 29, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Caslon? Bah, humbug. Call me old school, but I’ve laid out my 6 books books in Bookman. It has a little thicker face so if the type on page is dense, or your leading to small it can look too dark, but hit the type size and leading on the head and it’s great. My 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2 books – like Direct Marketing Strategies, or Uncommon Marketing Techniques are set at 10.5 type on a 13.5 leading with a 4.25 line length, but my larger books, like How To Market A Product for Under $500 are set 10.5 on a 13.5 leading with a 5-1/2 line length.
    BTW – the only way I figured out how to know what size to set the type was to set a page at each point size (in half-point size increments) in each leading size (in half-point increments) and stare at them for a couple of days. Hope that helps you…

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano February 29, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Choosing fonts is obviously a personal choice, based on what you like and what you feel best conveys the spirit of the writing. However–and perhaps I’m just picking nits here–Caslon’s more old school than Bookman … by maybe 150 years (obviously, I mean the pre-digital versions). My real reservation with Bookman is that it’s a resident type on the Macintosh, and anything that ubiquitous is something I tend to steer away from. But that’s quibbling. I’d be more curious about what it is in the subject of your book that makes Bookman more suitable. The color of the page IS something I’d be concerned about. At 10.5, I think I’d go 14 point leading. Are you using Medium or Light?

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    Richard Sutton March 1, 2012 at 8:10 am

    It’s really good to see these discussions active again. My own take on choice of text font has more to do with the paper color and the age of the typical reader in the work’s genre. For most readers over 50, 10.5 point is just too small for comfortable reading in print, and the individual lines run too long, creating eye fatigue quicker. I almost always set 11.5 or 12 point and open up the leading a point and a half. Legibility is my primary focus. If a text font is ubiquitous, to me that says it’s an effective font. A little familiarity is not a bad thing for the average reader. I can always work more interesting fonts into headings and titles as needed, even call-outs or chapter lead-ins.

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    Esther Griffin March 1, 2012 at 10:46 am

    What fonts do you or readers recommend for children’s easy to read books? How about children’s picture books?

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    Joel Friedlander March 12, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Esther, I like Century Old Style or Century Schoolbook for children’s books, but there are lots of others.

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    Phil Steer March 6, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Thanks for this. I tried Monotype Bembo Book, but feel that the x-height is a bit too small (having settled on a font size of 12/15 for a US Trade sized paperback). Searching for an alternative, I’ve come across Calluna, which (at 11/15) seems more legible and looks good to me. I appreciate that this might be reason enough to use it, but I know very little about fonts, so would be interested to know what others think of Calluna. Many thanks.

    Reply

    Phil Steer March 8, 2012 at 1:42 am

    Change of thought: Monotype Bembo Book looks good at 13/16 with US Trade size.

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    Phil Steer March 6, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    (Sorry, I now see a couple of mentions of Calluna, above, but would still be interested in others’ opinions.)

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    Philippa Rees March 7, 2012 at 1:26 am

    Joel. I am about to layout a scientific Theory written as poetry…Nine Cantos with hyperlinked endnotes. Ease of reading is paramount, and a sense of ‘space’ around the type ( short lines, single spaced) Have looked at your recommendations and on small samples like Bembo for this reason, but cannot view whole pages or two side by side. The endnotes appear in separate boxes ( on e readers) very crammed together. Any other or better ideas?

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano March 7, 2012 at 1:41 am

    Ah, consequences of flowing screens instead of turning pages! Philippa, I wonder if this isn’t definitely a case of checking out whether sans serifs are nicer on-screen. Perhaps one of the Humanist sansies, like Optima (kind of brides from serif to sans.) I’m curious to whether the endnotes simply follow in boxes of their own or are on separate screens? Any pictorial illustration–do they have legends? If so, do pics and legends fit on same screen? Are you trying generous leading? What to do to break between cantos? SImple line breaks or “announcements, like subheadings in a narrative? (Bembo, by the way is a favorite of mine. I wonder if there’s not an irony to Old Style types on e-readers? How do you feel it renders on screen after screen of e-reading?)

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    Philippa Rees March 7, 2012 at 2:50 am

    Stephen. Thank you for your response. The hyperlinked footnotes have been created and linked on Microsoft word. I am told that the linkage works on Kindle and will in PDF on Ipad. I am intending to both book publish and ebook publish and for the latter will probably get professional conversions, I have insterted full page diagrams between Cantos but not within them. I take your point about Serif fonts on modern readers but I think the poetry benefits from a traditional ‘look’ Another thing there are two ‘voices’ distinguished by one Italic and one non-Italic, so any font equally easy to read in both is another consideration. I have not seen it in any format other than Times New Roman and Garamond as yet. What is ‘generous leading?

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    Stephen Tiano March 7, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Of course, “generous” is in the eye of the beholder. And it depends, too, on the typeface. But 10/13 and 11/14 are not outrageous. I just completed a sample of a type that looks to me like it sets small–I used 12/16 in this sample. But I’d only go that large for the type size with such a type that sets small … or in a children’s book.

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    Vincent De Berne March 8, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Hello!
    what a great article.
    I’ve a question: I’m doing the interior book design + cover of a book relating dark stories, with lots of dead people…
    Do you have any recommendations for a serif typeface for the interior, and a sans serif for the cover ?

    Thanks a lot,

    Cordially

    Vincent

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano March 8, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Vincent, may I ask how you come to be doing his book design? Are you the author doing a DIY project? And may I also ask, how do you generally go about choosing types for a book design project? Do you try to match the time or place the book is set in? Or do you go for a contrast of time and place? Or do you try to match or contrast the sory or even the feeling the story evokes? If I had some sense of your design aesthetic I might be able to suggest a line of reasoning to apply to choosing your types.

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    Stephen Tiano March 8, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Vincent, may I ask how you come to be doing this book design? Are you the author doing a DIY project? And may I also ask, how do you generally go about choosing types for a book design project? Do you try to match the time or place the book is set in? Or do you go for a contrast of time and place? Or do you try to match or contrast the sory or even the feeling the story evokes? If I had some sense of your design aesthetic I might be able to suggest a line of reasoning to apply to choosing your types.

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    Vincent De Berne March 9, 2012 at 4:24 am

    thanks a lot for your answer Stephen. (and sorry for my english, I’m from Belgium)

    I’m not the author. I’m doing a project with a friend who is the author… We are doing this project just for passion… not in order to sale the book.

    The book is composed of 10 short stories, quiet dark stories, ends with dead persons…
    The ‘genre’ of the book is contemporary fiction.
    I’m trying to match the time and the feeling the story evokes.

    I think I need something quiet strong for the cover, catch the eye.. that’s why I thinking to use a sans serif typeface.
    For the body text maybe a typeface more classical…

    Thanks a lot,

    Cordially,

    Vincent

    Reply

    Vincent De Berne March 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    thanks a lot for your answer Stephen. (and sorry for my english, I’m from Belgium)

    I’m not the author. I’m doing a project with a friend who is the author… We are doing this project just for passion… not in order to sale the book.

    The book is composed of 10 short stories, quiet dark stories, ends with dead persons…
    The ‘genre’ of the book is contemporary fiction.
    I’m trying to match the time and the feeling the story evokes.

    I think I need something quiet strong for the cover, catch the eye.. that’s why I thinking to use a sans serif typeface.
    For the body text maybe a typeface more classical…

    Thanks a lot,

    Cordially,

    Vincent

    Reply

    Vincent De Berne March 10, 2012 at 5:19 am

    I really want to use the FF Scala for the body text…
    I was wondering if the combination of Scala as the body text and Syntax Roman for the cover works ?
    Or do I need to use something mainly purposed for large signage or posters like Akzidenz Grotesk or Futura ?

    thanks

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 12, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Vincent, I think Scala will work fine for your body text.

    I wouldn’t be too worried about the font you use for the title on the cover of the book combining with the text font, because they won’t be seen together. The cover typography is really important, it has a huge effect on the entire cover, but it needs to be chosen to coordinate with the artwork and your general marketing ideas, that is, what the ideal buyers of the book expect to see on a book of this kind.

    The best thing is to look at lots of covers in your specific category or genre and see what looks like it works the best for you.

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    Vincent De Berne March 12, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Thanks a lot for your answer Joel

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    Richard Sutton March 12, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    I’d expand that excellent answer a bit — Your cover is packaging, plain and simple. Designed to sell the contents. The text font and headline choices are critical for legibility while still conveying a feel of the subject. Take some time to try our each font you like in a complete page of text or better an full two-page spread, to see how they actually read. Be sure to check with readers in your actual genre. Hold your own “Focus Group”! I’ve used that technique for years and gotten good results.

    Reply

    Vincent De Berne March 12, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Thank you Richard for your precisions !

    Vincent De Berne March 10, 2012 at 7:08 am

    I think I found one really nice for the cover/headlines:
    FF Quadraat Sans

    What do you think?

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    panbran March 10, 2012 at 7:14 am

    I just arrive in this page. it is an amazing blog. Thank you Joel.

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    Stephen Tiano March 12, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Joel, while I see your point about the cover coordinating to the art and one’s general marketing bent, I believe one way of making a cover really effective is by attractively suggesting–I’ve referred to it previously as “making a kind of promise about”–what the reader will find inside. The big way I often do this is by using the typeface from the cover as my display face for the book’s interior.

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    Saji Ijiyemi March 16, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    I came across Joel’s site while working on my book. Before then, I’ve never thought of the typeface for my book cover or the interior. After reading this blog, commenting on it, and asking questions, I got a direction on the typeface I like and the ones I would not consider – my choices were simplified. Thank you Joel, thanks to everyone who shared – and still sharing – their experience on this blog. I am grateful. Now I’m a published author. My book is out on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0983954100 and anyone interested could download the book preview at https://www.createspace.com/Preview/1097532. Please let me know what you think about the cover typeface, design, and the interior. Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!!

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    Duncan Long March 28, 2012 at 10:26 am

    What display type would you recommend for pairing with Electra? Or do you simply use Electra throughout your books when you employ it?

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    Joel Friedlander April 23, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Duncan, it’s impossible to answer fully since I don’t know anything about the book or its intended audience. Having said that, I’ve used Electra in its larger sizes for display and it can be very effective. If I wanted to pair it with a sans serif type I would look for one that complemented its narrow set and didn’t detract from Electra’s subtle beauty.

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    YUMMommy March 28, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Great picks. I love the Garamond font. For me, it just has a classic and polished look.

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    Anne Smith April 18, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    I’ve written a book on how the universe is structured, how we as humans fit into that structure, and how we can use that understanding to be happier and more fulfilled. The chapters are short, about about 800 – 1200 words each, but start with bullet-pointed key concepts. I mention all this because it may influence your suggestions on fonts.

    I’d like to use a combination of sans serif and serif fonts — one for the chapter and section headings and one for the text. Suggestions? Is it out of the question to use the serif for the headings and the sans serif for the text? Advice is appreciated. Thanks!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander April 23, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Anne,

    Take a look at this article, it should help:

    7 New Typeface Combinations for Interior Book Design

    Reply

    Camille Lagron April 21, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Thanks for a great article, Joel. I, like many others who commented before me, am in the process of self-publishing my book (mine happens to be a book geared towards fifth and sixth graders) and this article was very helpful. It prompted me to spend a good hour looking at the copyright page in as many children’s novels as I could get my hands on. Thanks!

    Reply

    Daniel Holman June 9, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Hello Joel:

    This may be an old post but as a Greek and Hebrew enthusiast, I have focused on such font styles over English styles. However, I am getting ready to publish a Greek New Testament with variants in a critical apparatus. I never really gave the English letters much thought until I came across your website. Therefore, I reviewed all of Adobes fonts and several others, compared font sizes, italics, etc. and have come up with the below as my top five fonts:

    1. Bembo
    2. Sabon
    3. Electra
    4. Caslon
    5. Janson

    I am currently designing a multi-language font for “The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts” (CSNTM) and proofing a Greek Text book called “Mastering New Testament Greek.”

    God Bless,

    Daniel

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander June 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Daniel,

    Thanks for your comment, that’s fascinating, and interesting that you came up with a list very much like mine. I’m wondering what criteria you used for selecting these five fonts?

    Reply

    Daniel Holman June 9, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Hello Joel:

    I reviewed over 100 font designs in several PDF books. Then I weeded the font choices down to around 25 fonts. My next step was to have several sample pages printed from 24 point for title sizes all the way to 5 point for supra-linear notes in the apparatus, including italics and bold.

    Since my work is mostly Greek, I wanted to ensure I had a good layout for the apparatus. My children (young adults) assisted in judging the most readable font styles. Out of all the choices they chose Carlson and Janson as number one and two choices. Interesting that the Harry Potter books used Garamond…

    God Bless,

    Daniel

    Reply

    Rosanne Dingli June 9, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Well, Garamond packs a lot of text neatly into small spaces (its italics are among the most compact I know). The Harry Potter books are very long, and packaging them economically was proabably an issue in paperback.

    Reply

    Ron Herron June 11, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    I’ve used the font ‘Georgia’ for all three of my recently self-published books. I like the large X-height of the lower case, which makes it particularly readable, even in smaller sizes.

    Reply

    Daniel Holman June 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Ron:

    I like Georgia’s Greek lettering… It has an elegant look that typical Greek fonts tend to have… The Greek Font Society has created many styles so us scholars are not stuck with plain looking fonts!

    God Bless,

    Daniel

    Reply

    Kenny Hu July 3, 2012 at 11:45 am

    It is really enjoyable to read the article and all these comments. Among the 5 introduced fonts, Garamond and Caslon are also my favorite. You cannot go wrong with Garamond. For me, it is like the de facto perfect old-style fonts. Minion is also very readable, but its italic is not as distinguishable as Garamond.

    Arno pro is another amazing font. It does have certain limitations due to its humanist heritage, such as relatively low x-height, but no one could deny the beauty of it. And although it is a revival of an early style, Slimbach successfully added strong modern feelings into it. I used it in my resume because of that.

    Recently I found a very well made free font: Calendas. Usually I won’t expect such completeness for a free font, although I feel that it may be a little bit too stylish for main body text. And its typefaces are very limited to the basic bold and italic. I hope the author could extend the number of its typefaces later. What do you guys think of it? http://behance.vo.llnwd.net/profiles24/971625/projects/3266519/dc5e989b966b2cdf8a5e031fd411bec4.jpg

    Reply

    Kenny Hu July 3, 2012 at 11:47 am
    Joel Friedlander July 4, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Hi Kenny,

    Thanks for your comment. I liked Calendas, but I was unable to find any download information for it anywhere. Do you have a link? Thanks.

    Reply

    Kenny Hu July 4, 2012 at 11:55 pm
    chris July 10, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Another aspect to consider is font pairing. Garamond is great for the main body text but I wouldn’t want it to also be used for chapter sub-headings such as are common in non-fiction / how-to books.

    Somewhere buried in a stack of papers on my desk is a “top 20 font pairings” article. For example, pair Garamond with Helvetica/Arial.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano July 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Meh. Helvetica and Arial? Joel and I have both written some on choosing sans serif types to use with text faces. There are many other options that are far more interesting than ghost two, honest.

    Reply

    Leonard Rattini, CCP July 16, 2012 at 6:17 am

    When a book consists mostly of text, I believe in the rule of common sense. Their font, regardless of a story’s genre has to be easy on the eye. It is the story’s quality that sells their books. Font type is just the messenger. I appreciate you pioneers have made me aware there are mainly two lists of fonts, those that have a cost and those that are free. From your pointers as to where to find each, I’d look at the font samples to make my choice as to what gives the best read. The only factor as to making my selection if the one selected is from the cost list, is it worth the price?

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander July 16, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Len,

    Fonts can cost quite a bit of money. But part of the reason is that they often come in packages or bundles with lots of different variations included. Almost all books can be typeset using only the roman and italic versions of a font for text, and a different font for headings or display. There are a lot of fonts on sites like myfonts.com where you can buy those basic 2 styles for under $50, so a publisher could settle on a font they love, purchase those and use them in all your books. You would have high-quality fonts and the expense would not be that bad. Free fonts can be good, but there are also a lot of them that are pretty sub-standard, so make sure you set a few pages to make sure they will work before you commit to doing a whole book.

    Reply

    Leonard Rattini, CCP July 16, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks Joel, I appreciate all your forewarnings. Lenny

    Reply

    J S August 13, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Joel, Now that you’ve generated interest in Fonts, this post being one of your most popular, I wondered if you might consider a blogging on fonts related to this topic: “Etiquette and use of professional paid fonts”.

    I gravitate to free fonts as, while the price is right, I don’t want any encumberances and risk of later wrangling because I may have bought a font and installed in on my pc and then years later I do a POD and use the font (having forgotten it’s origin) – finding out after the book is out there that ‘you only bought the personal-use not the publishing-use version’ in some nicely worded hate mail. It’s a big reason why I love FOSS (free and open source software) because independence of use is important: the ‘free’ means ‘freedom’.

    Obviously all the font makers will have different terms of use (EULA’s that take too long to read inspite of a nicely tuned font), but what are the general bits to know as a ‘casual publisher’ or even smaller ‘independent publisher’ when choosing fonts? How to stay out of trouble? If I buy a $25 font for my computer can I use it to produce web-page graphics that I have on my own site or even sell those graphics? POD book interior/cover etc?

    A follow on blog post might be “Risks inherent with using Free Fonts” if there are some hidden gotcha’s and which fonts are good for books that are truely free(dom) and clear.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano August 13, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Although I’m on what’s working out to be a summer hiatus from my blog, I’ve blogged some on free/open source fonts. I’ve used the Fontins in a book with good effect, and Jos Buivenga of exljbris has a reasonable and accessible EULA. Essentially I just had to credit him and his foundry. You really do have to look at free fonts in context, however–i.e., set some representative type in them–because a lot of times you do get what you pay for.

    Reply

    Leonard Rattini, CCP August 13, 2012 at 10:40 am

    I recently purchased the hard cover book of “Unbroken” authored by Laura Hillenbrand and published by Random House. Not only am I interested in its story content, I’m also interested in how its packaged. In the back of the book on its last page it states “Sabon” was the typeface used. I like it.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano August 13, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Sabon is, indeed, a very fine type. It’s one of my favorites and, over the years, I’ve had to be very careful not to overuse it. I’m always surprised that it was designed by Jan Tschichold because it’s such a beautiful face and Tschichold was much more interested in utility. But it sets so elegantly, I’ve always found it hard to resist.

    Reply

    Sandy Bornstein August 30, 2012 at 9:18 am

    What is the ideal size for Adobe Caslon Pro?

    Reply

    Anna Erishkigal September 3, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    I’m partial to Palatino Linotype myself. I have to walk that fine line between maximizing the number of words I can fit on a page and readability to keep my cost basis down. But I agree the five scripts you highlighted are all beautiful. For a non-fiction work such as a textbook, you would want to sacrifice words-per-page to bring your reader increased readability.

    Reply

    Geoff Plunkett October 5, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Following up to a conversation above. Am putting a book back into print with Lightning Source. The Indesign pages are set in Bodoni but I can change this if necessary. Would Adobe Garamond Pro be a better choice? There will be no color.

    ______________________________________________________

    Paula, thanks for the question, and thanks also to Stephen for his great type advice. I think it’s important to realize that these are almost entirely personal preferences. For instance, I recently typeset a 584-page memoir in Adobe Garamond Pro that was printed at Lightning Source, and the book is gorgeous (well, I’m prejudiced, but still).

    Minion is certainly an excellent book font, but the typographic design would have a huge influence on whether I would use Minion regular or medium because I would want to control the type color of the page and page size, font size, leading and margins all have a big effect on perceived type color.

    I haven’t run into any typefaces that don’t work well in digital printing, which is often a bit sharper than offset. I experimented with this recently by setting a book in Electra, one of my favorite typefaces for novels and literary nonfiction, yet it printed just fine at LSI.

    You might also look at Warnock Pro which is a bit heavier than Garamond. For all the reasons Stephen cited, I would not set a book in Palatino unless it was requested.

    Hope that helps!

    Reply

    Geoff Plunkett October 8, 2012 at 11:45 am

    iS THIS DISCUSSION DEAD?

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano October 8, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Geoff, if you have something to add, I’ll certainly see if I have anything to respond with.

    Reply

    Geoff Plunkett October 8, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    Thanks Stephen, asked it two above;

    Following up to a conversation above. Am putting a book back into print with Lightning Source. The Indesign pages are set in Bodoni but I can change this if necessary. Would Adobe Garamond Pro be a better choice? I gather Garamond is a favourite among many. Which variant of Garamond for main text, italics, headings etc. There will be no color.

    Best

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano October 9, 2012 at 12:44 am

    You “can change this if necessary.” What would make it necessary? Have you concluded Bodoni is a really bad choice for the material? Do the pages look bad with it? Depending on what version and style of Bodonii; what size and leading, too; the color of a page of Bodoni can run pretty dark, it occurs to me. That could be one issue.

    Adobe Garamond Pro–I use Adobe Pewmier Pro, as it gives a great range of choices–is much used. Does it seem to go with your material? See, I just don’t choose typefaces for a book in a vacuum. I’ve written on this a few times in my blog.

    But answering strictly, if I were to use Adobe Garamond Pro, I’d use Regular for body text, whatever Regular Italic (essentially) is, and I’d look for a compatible sans serif for display heads.

    Reply

    Geoff Plunkett October 9, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Thanks Stephen – How do I find the EXACT version of Bodoni it was done with? Indesign can’t find it on my PC.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano October 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Where do you customarily get your types from, Geoff? You might start there, although I guess first I’d do a file search on my computer looking for “Bodoni”. Beyond that, I guess pulling out a type specimen book and looking at its Bodoni samples against a hard copy of some of your text. But that’s a needle in a haystack. Do you have the InDesign file (or whatever software you did the layout in)? Shouldn’t that list the full name of all fonts used?

    I’m afraid that’s all I got.

    Reply

    J S October 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Dreaded where’s my fonts problem. Do you still have the computer where the Indesign/etc program ran on? The font will still be on that machine. Find it and copy it to your current machine. Next is to look at the source file (possibly with a text editor to show all the code) and search for the font name and see what the rest of the file name might have been “bondoni_special_shape_number_15.fnt” or something then do an internet search and see where that exact file name might still live.

    Reply

    Geoff Plunkett October 10, 2012 at 12:44 am

    Thanks – have asked person who prepped it to search their computer.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano October 10, 2012 at 4:16 am

    So, Geoff, I never asked: How come you need the old fonts? Doing a reprinting? If you’re doing a new edition of the book, perhaps you really want a NEW edition?

    Reply

    Geoff Plunkett October 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Reprinting yes with a few alterations. The book is large and complex, 800 pages & 300+ photos, multiple appendices, so trying to minimise font changes which may affect layout too much. I will try a few pages with Garamond Pro to see how it looks. Audience: lay to professional.

    http://www.mustardgas.org

    Reply

    Geoff Plunkett October 10, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Note a PDF sample is on the website.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 10, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Geoff,

    I think it’s really hard to say that one book font is “better” than another without knowing anything about the book, other fonts used, intended readership, page layout and all the other factors that go into choosing fonts.

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Bodoni, although it seems to be to be less used these days.

    Compounding your problem is the fact that Bodoni has been issued by numerous type foundries over the years in many variations, with lots of differences, particularly in weight and overall color.

    Of course, if you don’t have the font but want to do a new edition of the book, you’ll likely have to change it anyway.

    And thanks to Stephen for his continued generosity to people asking questions here, you can rely completely on his sound advice.

    Reply

    Richard Sutton October 10, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Geoff;
    The link to the pdf sample is dead on your site. Check it out.

    Your book sounds like it will be a typographer’s nightmare — not that there is anything wrong with that, but in this case, legibility is key. Assuming the layout is as easy on the eyes as possible, the inclusion of so much illustrative material asks a lot of the eye of the reader. If the images/charts are incorporated into the text throughout the book with run-arounds, then the type face has to be very easy for the eye to find the next line. I almost wonder if a facing pages kind of layout would be the best way to go to keep the text in one place and the images and captions somewhere close, but separate?

    Reply

    Geoff Plunkett October 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm
    Duncan Long October 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    I’d suggesting using the sans (as someone suggested earlier for headings and such) or something similar to it for picture captions as well. That way the reader will quickly become aware of where the text leaves off and the caption begin.

    If you’re going to lay the whole thing out again (and given the over-sized footnotes/letters that seems a task that will need to be done), you might consider a two-column format which can be easier to work photos into sometimes — though I’m not sure the tradeoff would be worth it with this publication, and definitely not if you’re shooting for a similar page count or overall look similar to the original.

    Anyway… looking at the original PDF, I’d suggest starting all over with the layout from the typeface choice on up. The previous job isn’t bad or anything, but it does look pretty dated by present standards, especially given its 2007 copyright.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano October 10, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Thanks, Joel, for your gracious providing of another venue (more populated than my blog, to be sure) to discuss all this “inside baseball” kind of typography talk. I never get enough of reading about it or offering my own opinions about it.

    Geoff, Duncan makes good points. You haven’t asked, but if you are considering a totally new layout, I’d be pleased to discuss the possibility of hiring on for the job.

    Reply

    Stephen Tiano October 10, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Geoff, I dunno, but I’m getting a blank page when I click on the link. Is the site where the article resides maybe getting too much activity to respond? Any suggestions how I can gain access? Thanks.

    Reply

    Geoff Plunkett October 11, 2012 at 1:16 am

    Thanks All

    Reply

    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?

    Reply

    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?

    Reply

    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.

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    Andreas October 27, 2012 at 5:24 am

    I use Caslon for my book.

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    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.
    Roger

    Reply

    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…

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    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!

    Reply

    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?

    Reply

    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.

    Reply

    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.

    Reply

    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.)

    Reply

    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.

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    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.

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

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

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    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?

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    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!

    Reply

    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).

    Reply

    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.

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    Bill May 2, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    How about Wingdings?

    Reply

    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.

    Filip

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    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.

    Thanks.

    Reply

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

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

    Reply

    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.

    Reply

    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.

    Reply

    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!”

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

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

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    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.

    Reply

    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

    Reply

    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/

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    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?

    Reply

    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.

    Reply

    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.

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    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

    Reply

    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.

    Reply

    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.

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    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?

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    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.

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    Andre August 22, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Thanks, Leslie.

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    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.

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    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!

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    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.

    http://benhamatake.com/blog/design/building-a-book-page-design-for-swamp-monster/

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    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?

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    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.

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    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!

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    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.

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    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

    Reply

    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?

    Thanks!
    Peggy

    Reply

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

    Thanks,
    Peggy

    Reply

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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?

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    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.

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    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.

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    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).

    http://www.fonts.com/font/monotype/bembo-book
    https://www.adobe.com/type/browser/landing/arno/arno.html
    http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/shinn/scotch-modern/micro/

    Reply

    Leslie March 3, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Jane,
    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    Phil Steer March 5, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Jane,

    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!

    Phil

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    Filip Palda March 6, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    How about Minion Pro?

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    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?

    Reply

    Kimberly April 10, 2014 at 9:26 am

    I like Book Antiqua.

    Reply

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