5 Great Fonts for Book Covers

by Joel Friedlander on August 30, 2011 · 114 comments

Post image for 5 Great Fonts for Book Covers

One of the most consistent and easily corrected mistakes I see with book covers that are designed by authors is weak or inappropriate typography. Given that a book cover usually has very few words on it, and those words (title, subtitle, author’s name) have a huge influence on buying decisions, this can be a major problem.

For instance, if you’re writing about a topic considered masculine and aimed at a male audience, does it help you to have an overly-embellished or feminine typeface that’s barely readable on your book cover? No, I don’t think so either. Or for a historical romance, you wouldn’t want a modern clean sans serif typeface like Helvetica for your cover. It would simply look dangerously out of place.

How Inappropriate Typefaces Happen

The reasons some authors end up with this kind of typography on their book covers include:

  • A lack of design training
  • Only judging what is seen on the screen and being unable to visualize the effect on a printed cover
  • Using the typefaces that came with the computer

This last reason is probably the most common. After all, when you look down that long list of fonts, it seems that there should be something there that’s usable, right? But that’s not always the case.

Display fonts are different from text fonts. Their weights, spacing, set widths and many other tiny details differ. It’s difficult to impossible to make a text typeface look really good on a book cover. I’m not saying you’ll never see this done well, but it’s much more likely that the cover you’re looking at with that gorgeous Garamond on it was done by a professional designer with years of experience and a lot of graphic tricks up her sleeve.

No, it’s far better for amateurs to use display typefaces when it comes to their book covers. To help out, here are 5 typefaces, some of them free, that you can experiment with on your book covers.

5 Great Fonts for Your Book Cover

To get you started, I’ve collected 5 great fonts for book cover design. Even better, three of them are free, and you can download them at fontsquirrel.com, so start experimenting with these for your book cover.

1. Chunk Five (free from fontsquirrel.com): This meaty and emphatic slab serif font is ideal for book titles in numerous genres. Try this font for action-oriented or political stories. Here’s a cover I did for an around-the-world sailing story:

great fonts for book covers

book design for self-publishers

2. League Gothic (free from fontsquirrel.com): This sans serif font is very vertical, which is ideal for book titles. League Gothic would be a great choice for thrillers or business books, and it can be useful if you have a very long title, too. Here’s a sample on Joanna Penn’s terrific thriller.

great fonts for book covers

great fonts for book covers

3. Trajan (available from Adobe): You might recognize Trajan, and that’s because it’s been used for more movie posters than any other font. It works quite well on books, too. This classic font is appropriate for histories, novels, and historical fiction, among others. Check out the French film poster using Trajan.

great fonts for book covers

great fonts for book covers

4. Franchise (free from fontsquirrel.com): Another tall and meaty sans serif, just ideal for the right book cover treatment. Franchise would be a great pick for a historical epic, for mysteries, or for thrillers. Here’s a sample of a novel in a gritty urban setting.

great fonts for book covers

great fonts for book covers

5. Baskerville (many versions available): Sometimes you need to have a straight roman typeface for your title, and in that case I like to use one of the variations of Baskerville, a highly readable typeface. You might find Baskerville perfect for a memoir, a business book, or a historical romance. Here’s a sample, and a cover from Vintage Books that shows how effective it can be.

great fonts for book covers

great fonts for book covers

The best way to see the effect these fonts will have on your book is by trying them out. Since most of them are free, there’s no reason not to. Just looking at these fonts and imagining them on a book cover helps give you a sense of how the fonts you choose influence the look and tone of your book.

What are your favorite fonts for book covers?

Ed: This article was originally featured in a slightly different form on CreateSpace.com under the title 5 Great Typefaces for Your Book Cover.

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    { 96 comments… read them below or add one }

    doctorate February 13, 2015 at 4:07 am

    Thank you for your professional advise. I wonder what would you recommend, given the choice, for a Ph.D. dissertation cover?


    Joel Friedlander February 13, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Since the cover of your dissertation doesn’t need to look like a retail product, you might want to use a plain typeface like Times Roman or Helvetica.


    Bernard January 9, 2015 at 4:08 am

    Thanks buddy. You saved me (a design newbie) a lot of time


    Justin Gustainis December 29, 2014 at 7:43 pm


    I just tried to download two of the fonts you recommended from Fontsquirrel, and my Norton anti-virus program kicked in both times. It says the source for these is unsafe, and it won’t let me download them. Have you ever experienced this?


    Joel Friedlander January 2, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    Justin, not sure who “Chuck” is, but at this point I kind of trust fontsquirrel.com more than I might trust Norton. I’ve used the site for years and never had a problem with it or the fonts downloaded there.


    Samantha Tang November 26, 2014 at 7:11 am

    Hi Joel

    I think your points are truly very valid. But what do you think about fonts for eBook covers? Would you consider that more of print or digital? Do we apply the same concepts on the fonts used?

    Is there anything you’d do differently for eBook covers?


    Patricia September 22, 2014 at 1:48 pm


    Could you give me your advice on how to choose a font for a children’s illustrated picture book about Easter – I don;t know where to place it on the cover and what kind of font to you.

    Should the letters be al different sizes?

    Thank you in advance.



    Katherine Hayward August 21, 2014 at 3:49 am

    Hi Joel, I have written 2 fantasy novels and a YA/ chick lit novel. What is a great cover typeface forn these genres? I have tried ones I have on my iPad, but they are all pretty standard and nothing convinces me. I am getting ready to submit a proof copy today.


    Joel Friedlander August 21, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Katherine, you might want to take a look at our monthly Ebook Cover Awards where lots of books in both those genres are displayed, and see the kinds of fonts professional book designers are using. Lots of ideas there.


    Katherine Hayward August 21, 2014 at 12:45 pm



    deborah frankel March 11, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Hi Joel!
    I’m working on a book and I found an old Andy Warhol book from 1967 called “Stamped Indelibly” that uses a font inside that I want to try. Do you have any idea what that font might be or where I can find it? It’s a simple sans serif and I have pictures of it that I’m happy to send you but I don’t know where…?
    Thanks so much,


    Joel Friedlander March 12, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Deborah, you can email the sample to marin.bookworks@gmail.com and I’ll have a look.


    Nova February 13, 2014 at 8:59 am

    I just want to mention something. I come across many sites that offer free fonts. I also read blogs by font designers who are annoyed by their work showing up on those sites and irked by the people who use the fonts from those sites for their commercial projects without permission. They say it’s like losing two sales – one to the site that gains advertising revenue, and one to the person who snags the font for free instead of buying it. So, to people looking to use free fonts, please do a little research to make sure it’s okay.


    Joel Friedlander February 13, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Nova, that’s one of the reasons I use—and recommend—fontsquirrel.com, because they only deal in fonts that are licensed by their designers as free fonts, or fonts that are made free for a period of time by the foundries that own them. Not only that, the fonts are much higher quality than the huge “free font” sites you see all the time.


    Mackenzie Hansler January 15, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Thank you very much for the invaluable advice throughout your website, Joel. I am in the final stages for an upcoming series designed for parents and their young children. There will be a series title, main title (which changes per installment) and author name. Would it be overkill to have all three the same font? I am leaning toward Chunk Five, but League Gothic is also a close second. Any advice would be much appreciated, Mac


    George Marshall September 16, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Following your advice I’m going to use Baskerville for the title on my forthcoming book (business / economic history).

    I take on board what you say about designing in a vacuum, but if you were to add a quote in speech marks from a review in a small typeface would you use Baskerville for that too or a completely different font?


    Joel Friedlander September 16, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    George, it could work, depends on the rest of the cover. I wouldn’t rule it out.


    George Marshall September 17, 2013 at 7:55 am

    I know you offer the Q-and-A With The Book Designer consultation, but what about a quick ten minute appraisal of a book cover for self-published authors? You see the cover and offer your critique and advice for a fee.


    Joel Friedlander September 17, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Interesting idea, George. I do know some cover designers who offer a critique service. What do you think it would be $worth?


    George Marshall September 20, 2013 at 1:52 am

    What it would be worth might be immeasurable given the impact a cover can have on book sales, but what would I pay? $20-$50 for a critique.

    Joel Friedlander September 21, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Thanks George. I think you’ve put your finger on the problem with cover critiques from professional designers.

    Carol September 6, 2013 at 12:16 am

    Thank you so much for this, Joel – and for all the great guidance on your site. Your 5 fonts have really opened my eyes. I may be almost as confused as before about choosing a font for the cover of my forthcoming chick-lit novel, but it’s a much more educated kind of confusion. And your replies to the comments are illuminating too.


    Alexander Duncan June 28, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    What are some good typefaces for a spiritually oriented book? Also, should the title, subtitle, author and imprint all be in the same font? Thanks for the article!


    Nick Daws May 12, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Thanks for a really useful article, Joel, which I have bookmarked for future reference.

    You appear to be referring primarily to print books here, but I assume the same basic principles would apply with e-books? Or are there are different considerations that apply with regard to e-book fonts and typography?


    Joel Friedlander May 12, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Hi Nick,

    These fonts are great for book covers of all kinds. What makes ebook covers different (or should, in my opinion) is the way they need to be simplified a bit to survive being reduced to thumbnails.


    Ron Wohl May 10, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    What font is best for a poetry book cover appealing to women over age 60?


    Marshall March 15, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Hi Joel — I Goggled ebook cover fonts today and saw your 15 ebook covers – success and failures in the Kindle Store. This article lead me to so many others on your site. What an awesome resource for self publishers. Thank you for taking time to write so many good articles.
    You should consider taking some of them and making a course for sale on the warriors special forum.


    Joel Friedlander March 15, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    Hi Marshall, Thanks for your comment, much appreciated. I don’t know much about selling on the Warrior forum, although I have created a video-based training course based on what I write about here: The Self-Publishing Roadmap.


    Roger Radford February 21, 2013 at 8:57 am

    Hi Joel
    The film rights were sold for my book Schreiber’s Secret way back. I’m now going to put it out on Kindle, along with others from my backlist. My designer of the new design here in the UK has done a pretty good job, but I’m not sure about the embossed font. It looks great when the cover is expanded, but doesn’t look so sharp in thumbnail. I’d love to be able to send it to you, but if that’s not possible I’d appreciate your general comment on this issue. I’ll be getting a new website as the old one is pretty poor.


    Joel Friedlander March 15, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Roger, you can email me the cover if you like and I’ll have a look. Use the form here: Contact page


    Sylvia Liu February 4, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Hi Joel,
    Thanks for this great roundup. I’m FINALLY at the stage of designing my picture book (remember I was one of your first students for your e-course?). My question: I’ve noticed that sometimes the author’s name is by itself and sometimes you see “By Author.” Is there a convention that people follow? Thanks, Sylvia


    Joel Friedlander February 4, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Hi Sylvia,

    Great to hear you are getting close to publication. On the “by” question, I never include it on covers or title pages, since it’s clearly implied.


    Nick Holland January 24, 2013 at 5:49 am

    Hi Joel,
    I am so glad that I found this website – there is some great information on here!
    My manuscript is currently away with the editor and I have a cover design in mind so now I am thinking of font selection. My novel ‘Tortoise Soup’ is a children’s novel aimed at 8-11 year olds. It is basically a buddy/adventure story about an orphan girl, her pet tortoise and an evil witch who wants to turn the tortoise into a soup!
    What fonts do you think work well on children’s book covers?
    Any advice will be very much appreciated, thanks!


    Linda Pendleton October 15, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Interesting article. I have a question about the use of red for title such as the one you have at the beginning of this article. Too often the red does not appear solid and does not look professional. Sometimes even in print but especially on Kindle and Amazon Look InSide, or when enlarged. What needs to be done to get a solid good looking color of red?


    Y.K.Greene January 15, 2013 at 11:48 am

    I was just wrestling with that problem yesterday. Turns out rasterizing the text and then adding drop shadows, really helped make it pop on the page. The effect is so subtle that it’s hard to place but once it’s done you’ll wonder how you could have ever missed it before.

    Hope that helps.


    Linda Pendleton January 15, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    Thanks. Will check into that.


    Marie October 4, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    This article was heaven sent! Thank you so much! I’ve been struggling about what font to choose for my book covers for quite some time! I’m designing a series of murder mystery books do you have an idea of what fonts I might use?


    Joel Friedlander October 5, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Marie, thrillers almost always use very bold, thick, powerful letterforms, usually san serif but not always. You could try ChunkFive (see above) since it’s free to see how it works, or other very massive display faces.


    Donna October 3, 2012 at 11:22 am

    This article was extremely helpful. Exactly what I needed to prepare my book cover. Thanks!


    Nancy October 3, 2012 at 10:24 am


    Should Title and Author both be in the same font, only with the author smaller? Or should they contrast? Any ideas for two that work well together? What about color? Same color? Contrasting color? Any tips appreciated.


    Joel Friedlander October 5, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Hi Nancy,

    Title and author are often in the same font, but many times they are not. It really depends on the rest of the design and what else is going on with the cover. My best tip is to start looking at lots and lots of covers to see what works well. Try this: Monthly eBook Cover Design Awards


    Betty September 26, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Thank you for all your helpful articles. While my son is finishing his novel, I am learning all I can about creating and formatting a self-published book. For his cover I’m leaning toward Franchise or League Gothic for the first word of the title and the rest of the words centered below in same font but smaller (with the first word in Yellow and the others in white. I chose Century Gothic for his name. Do you think that Franchise/League Gothic and Century Gothic work well together? If not, what font would you suggest for his name? Thanks!


    Joel Friedlander October 5, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Betty there’s no reason they couldn’t be made to work together but it’s very hard to give an opinion in a vacuum, if you know what I mean.


    scott August 14, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Hi Joel,
    Pre-press just advised me that our elegant cover font has too many curly cues and thin lines to be gold foil stamped embossed–they are suggesting a change to a block font. Do you have any ideas for other elegant fonts that might be used – book content is about high society, some hollywood, etc.
    Thank you.


    Joel Friedlander August 14, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Try Trajan, it’s classic yet strong.


    Scott August 14, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Thank you, Joel. Much appreciated!


    Adrian Staccato August 4, 2012 at 10:35 am

    This post has been incredibly helpful. I think I’m gonna go with League Gothic! Thanks so much!


    B.B. Shane July 23, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Thank you, Joel, for your kind reply. I liked the Gothic look of Aerial Narrow – and it saved space. So, if fonts on processor aren’t useful, will you kindly suggest an alternative without breaking the bank? I also tried Latha but, of course,
    the saving space principle was in full action. It really is a problem. Too many pages and certainly neith Tolstoy nor Dostoievsky involved.


    Joel Friedlander July 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Last year I designed a book that was 227,000 words, a real problem for print on demand. The challenge was to keep it under 600 pages, and we succeeded at that. The pages are quite readable, yet there are over 450 words per page, very high for a 6″ x 9″ trade book. The typeface was Adobe Garamond Pro, a standard typeface for books. The fit was accomplished by very careful attention to typographic settings that are unavailable in word processors. You can see an article about it here:

    Book Page Layout for a Long Narrative

    Hope that helps.


    Finian Black July 19, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Hi Joel,
    A really useful article. I’ve been to fontsquirrel and tried to download a font or two – I’m not that computer literate and am not sure what I’m expecting. All it gives me is a page to print with examples of the fonts in different sizes. Am I missing the point?!


    Joel Friedlander July 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Finian, every font on fontsquirrel.com has a download link. Look for a blue button in the top right of the screen that will say something like “Download OTF.” Just click that button and the file will download, but you may have to then install the font to your system.


    Finian Black July 24, 2012 at 3:11 am

    Thanks. Problems sorted. Very pleased with the new cover of my first novel THE NIGHTMARE STONE – thanks to your post and advice.
    Here it is:


    Joel Friedlander July 24, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Nice job, Finian, good luck with the book.


    B.B. Shane July 19, 2012 at 4:16 am

    Thanks you, Joel.This has been quite an education for me. I’ve spent hours puzzling over the fonts available from Microsoft. The Cover ‘felt’
    fine – now I’m not so sure. Great to have discovered you, Joel and the contributors.

    About the actual text inside. Having far too many words, and needing to save space, I spent much time checking the same example with different fonts. My final choice was Arial Narrow. I like it, but will my readers?


    Joel Friedlander July 19, 2012 at 9:32 am

    B.B. I’m afraid your readers will not thank you for that choice, and I’m afraid that many people who might otherwise enjoy your book will give up on it because trying to read an entire book in Arial Narrow is a bit of a nightmare. There are many other ways to economize but they require better fonts, better tools than a word processor and the skill to know how to use them.


    Amy July 10, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Do you know what the smaller font on the “Pentecost” book cover is? The one that says “a thriller by”?


    Joel Friedlander July 10, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Hi Amy, the font is Adobe’s Myriad Pro, an extremely useful and versatile sans serif font.


    Amy July 10, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Thank you!


    Amy July 10, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Can you give me any guesses at all for http://bookcoverarchive.com/book/the_abomination this one?


    Diane Lynn Tibert McGyver June 15, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Thanks for the interesting posts, this one and the one regarding fonts for the inside of books. I like Garamond for inside. As for covers, I don’t like any of the examples you’ve provided–too plain–except Baskerville, but I probably wouldn’t use that either.

    For my fantasy novel, I used Goudy Old Style for my name and Papyrus for the Title. I reused Papyrus to denote the book in the series, and Goudy Old Style for the sentence which tries to lure readers in. I’ll use both of these fonts for the entire series. Actually, I’m trying to establish a ‘brand’ with my name, so will continue to create it the same way(sometimes with different colours, depending on the backgroud) on each book.

    I design all my covers, so I’m always interested in reading about how to make them better.

    I’ll check out fontsquirrel and see if there’s something I like there.

    Again, thanks for the useful information.


    Joel Friedlander July 10, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I think you’ll like fontquirrel.com Diane, they have the best quality free fonts I’ve found outside of foundry’s direct offerings. Thanks for your comment.


    Alex Lukeman June 13, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Hi Joel

    I just want to say how much I appreciate the advice and useful links in your posts. You have been extremely helpful to me and, I’m sure, many others.

    Good stuff.


    Mathew Owen May 8, 2012 at 5:16 am

    Thanks for the tips, I am currently looking for a good font for a design I am making for a medical book. Was looking at League Gothic, has a bit of a modern, yet traditional look. Do you have any other suggestions for a non-fictional, perhaps slightly more formal type of book? Suggestions would be much appreciated.


    Fred Scheck March 19, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    Hi Joel,

    Just found your site. Formerly resided in Marin County, so we know your area quite well. Now residing in the Provence area of France.

    I am just finishing a small children’s book (for children of all ages) and for the cover font, as well as story titles, I have found that Snell Roundhand has a very nice presentation. Anyone else familiar with this selection?


    Joel Friedlander March 20, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Fred, Snell Roundhand has been around since the 1960s and has appeared sometimes on free font lists. It’s a beautiful font that, in my opinion, would likely be inappropriate for the title on a a book cover. That’s one of the reasons I wrote this article. I’m not saying that a professional designer couldn’t make it work in the right place or with sufficient skill. What I am saying is that if you’re a non-professional or don’t want to acquire a typographic education, you might be better off sticking with a font that’s easier to read and intended for display use. Good luck with your project.


    Ruth Ellen Parlour February 25, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Thank you so much for this article! I’ve been struggling to pick a font and couldn’t find anywhere I could download free ones. This has helped me a bunch. Thank you :)


    Charmaine Clancy February 22, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    This is one of the MOST helpful posts I’ve read so far on book cover design for self-publishers. It should be a must-read before any writer is allowed to release their book cover on the world.
    I’ve linked to it my blog too, I want all my writer friends to read this! Plus you’ve introduced me to font squirrel, which is awesome because they’re licences allow for commercial use, whereas some free font sites don’t.
    Genuine thanks.


    Charmaine Clancy February 22, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Ugh. I was so over-zealous I filled my comment with typos. Should be ‘linked to it IN my blog’ and I even put in they’re instead of their (and I HATE when people mix those up). Shamed.


    kidnaped designer February 13, 2012 at 9:33 am

    I don’t know if you are familiar with this series from Avon Books: http://www.amazon.com/Pan-Knut-Hamsun/dp/0380004828 , but I recently bought Knut Hamsun’s Mysteries http://www.zenosbooks.com/our-book-blogs/1961-mysteries-by-knut-hamsun.html
    and I am really curious on the font that it has been used for the cover, does any of you have an idea of what it might be, or of something similar? Thank you in advance.


    Joel Friedlander February 13, 2012 at 10:43 am

    kidnaped, I have no idea what the font is. There are thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of these display typefaces, many created during the heyday of film-based typesetters. You might have a look at http://www.MyFonts.com or check the neat tool at http://www.Identifont.com


    Tom Simon April 19, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Based on a quick look at the cover and the publication date, I suspect there may be no font per se. A lot of paperbacks in that period, either books by bestselling authors or books whose publishers were giving them ‘the treatment’ to push them onto the lists, used custom lettering as part of the cover design. When a series was done in the same style, as with the Knut Hansuns in the links, the designer would do up a full character set for reference, but it was never made available to any type foundry.

    Some authors actually negotiated contract clauses specifying that their book covers had to be done with custom lettering.


    Abayomi January 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Thanks for this great site. I intend to use Garamond, Sabon, or Janson for the interior of my book. Is there any complementary font for book cover or it doesn’t really matter? Thanks.


    Joel Friedlander February 13, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Abayomi, there’s no specific need for the type you use on the cover to complement the type on the interior, although it can create a pleasant and unified effect. Most traditional publishers treat the cover and interior completely separately, with different designers working on them at different times, and you can see that pretty easily by looking at a bunch of the books on your bookshelf.


    Abby September 27, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Thanks… i really appreciate your advice…


    Debbie Christoforatos September 6, 2011 at 2:06 pm


    I really understand your point, my point of view was at the overall process, it wasn’t intended as a pun :). It is indeed a great a article for newly designers/authors and non-designers, your articles are always impeccable.


    D. VonThaer September 6, 2011 at 11:31 am

    This is extremely helpful. I think I’ve made my own mistakes when it comes to cover design. Just because *I* like it, doesn’t mean it will be well-received by others. (Admitting the problem is half the battle!) Baskerville has been a favorite of mine for some time. It’s elegant, simple, and doesn’t distract from the cover. So often type fonts become too much for the cover art and overwhelm.


    Frankie Harvey September 6, 2011 at 7:17 am

    Thank you for this article. I would like to publish a cookbook that is all about everyday elegance for your table. I have been searching for a beautiful font and now have better insight.


    Janet Angelo August 30, 2011 at 2:52 pm


    Thanks for this informative blog post, and for pointing us to fontsquirrel.com. I didn’t know of that site, but will make use of it!

    Here are the two book covers I’ve designed so far:


    I’ve been a freelance editor/manuscript formatter for years and in May of this year expanded to become IndieGo ePublishing.

    Janet :-)


    Joel Friedlander August 30, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Good luck with your new venture, Janet.


    Janet August 31, 2011 at 5:25 am

    Thanks…your site is very helpful and always full of great information.



    Debbie Christoforatos August 30, 2011 at 9:48 am

    I disagree, every element in the cover is the ‘most important thing’, it can either sell it or kill it.

    Every book-cover design should be treated uniquely. With so many different genres of writing, plus taking in consideration that the cover should not only reflect the content of the book, but the writer in a sense as well, it is quite imposible to just pick a few fonts.

    I think it would be quite foolish to just pick a few when there are so many amazing fonts that could be paired with each cover quite cleverly. Specially now that the sizes and shapes of books can be endless (from long, to wide, from big, to tiny, to object shaped, etc…)

    Book-covers are meant to be eye catching, making your cover unique, different from the rest and memorable, so hiring the right designer to do it creatively and professionally is the key.


    Joel Friedlander August 30, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Hi Debbie,

    I agree that every element on the cover has to work and work together well to make a great impression. On the other hand, the mind-boggling variety of fonts available make selections like this valuable for the non-designer who is just looking for some guidance. That’s who this article is aimed at. Thanks for your contribution.


    Deborah March 9, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Thank you, Joel! For a newbie to self-publishing, your comments are most useful for me. I appreciate your taking the time to share.


    Will Entrekin August 30, 2011 at 9:35 am

    I’ve taken to using Trajan specifically for its connection to the movie industry; given I studied fiction and screenwriting at USC, and I tend to write with what I’ve been told is “cinematic flair,” I think it’s a useful commonality.

    I’ve also been noting “a story” or “a novel” in Caecilia, because I’m mainly interested in the Kindle platform and I like having a tie between the cover and the interior.


    Joel Friedlander August 30, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Caecilia is a whole family of typefaces from Dutch designer Peter Matthias Noordzij and was originally done for Linotype, which still sells it. Not sure how it ended up on the free font sites, but it’s a lovely slab-serif font with lots of weights and would work well (handled properly, of course) for both text and display. Would love to see what you do with it, Will.


    James August 30, 2011 at 9:14 am

    Joel, excellent choices. I especially like the classic look of Baskerville.

    You and other readers might find this interesting: the top ten typefaces used on the covers of AAUP award-winning books:

    They are:
    ITC New Baskerville
    Garamond (a perennial favorite, I think)
    Trade Gothic

    fontshop.com is a great resource, too.


    Joel Friedlander August 30, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Hi James, thanks for that. You might want to note that, as Stephen Coles notes in the article, these fonts were the ones used in award winning book interiors even though the article only shows covers. Most of the fonts on the list are strictly text faces.

    James, you should consider submitting an article for our next edition of the Carnival of the Indies.


    James August 30, 2011 at 9:55 am


    Right you are. This is an old link I’ve had, and I went back and saw the comment Coles added at the bottom after the article.

    A carnival? Will there be funny hats? I’m in.


    Charles Kellam December 22, 2013 at 2:08 am

    Good day, Joel — I just want to first and foremost say “thank you,” for you have been a friendly resource in my book — which will be releasing in weeks. I’m publishing a self-help/motivation/romance humor book — and I wanted to pick your cerebellum as to what type of typefaces you would use to make my book really hit hard… Thanks once again!


    Ros August 30, 2011 at 9:03 am

    I like dafont.com for free fonts. And I totally agree that the font is almost the most important thing on a book cover.


    Joel Friedlander August 30, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Hi Ros, I like dafont.com also, but users have to be really careful of some of the free font sites because they don’t seem to employ any quality control and I’ve come across really bad fonts that can create problems (like lack of embedding, etc.) so I usually recommend fontsquirrel.com.


    Julian Summerhayes August 30, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Believe it or not the best book cover has no typeface. It is Poke the Box. Love the idea of the image saying it all. If that doesn’t work then I am fan of Garamond, Courier (for something with a 1970s feel) and Blackadder just to be contrary.



    Joel Friedlander August 30, 2011 at 9:39 am

    It certainly is an effective cover for the context within which it sells. There were a number of articles about covers without type after it came out, and I’m a big fan of what Seth Godin is doing with his publishing endeavor.

    I have to balk at Courier, however… Thanks for your input, Julian.


    Naja Tau November 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Hi! Thank you so much for building this website- I am exploring it and loving it! It’s great to get the chance to learn online without the risk of getting trolled. ;)

    I was wondering if you knew where links to these articles about zero text book covers were? I did a search on “cover Poke the Box” but I didn’t see anything substantive about designing book covers without text.

    Thank you again for all the time you’ve put into this site,


    Paul Gresham November 19, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Thanks for that, Joel.
    This might or might not be a challenge for you.
    I’ve written a thriller which isn’t quite as ‘deadly’ as most thrillers, it’s sometimes pretty funny and preposterous.
    Is there a font which reflects this?
    Is there a font which is mostly deadly but sometimes lightens up?


    Joel Friedlander November 21, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    Hi Paul,

    I don’t think you can do all that just by picking the right font, it sounds more like a challenge for a book cover designer to tackle.


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