21 Top Links to Book Fonts for Self-Publishing

by | Jul 18, 2012

One of the most often-asked questions on the blog is: “What text font should I use for my book?”

In fact, this question comes up so often I’ve written quite a few articles on the subject. But like most blogs, these posts can be hard to find in the dark reaches of the archives.

After writing earlier this week about the posts with the most blog comments, I realized that I had never brought all these articles together in one place.

To make up for that, and as a resource I can point to when people ask the question again about the best book font—certain to happen in the very near future—I’ve brought them all together here.

If you’re working on your book design, or if you design books for other people, help yourself to some font goodness. And if you’re not ready yet, bookmark this so you can find it when you’re ready.

Articles on Fonts for Book and Cover Design

Articles About Fonts

Picking Fonts for Your Self-Published Book
“Picking Fonts for Your Self-Published Book discusses how to choose fonts and suggests Garamond, Caslon, Minion, Janson and Palatino.”

5 Favorite Fonts for Interior Book Design
“5 classic type fonts for book design, a helpful listing for book designers and self-publishers, with illustrations of each font.”

5 Great Fonts for Book Covers
“5 Great Fonts for Book Covers including ChunkFive, League Gothic, Baskerville, Franchise and Trajan three of which are free for book cover design.”

Square-Serif Fonts Pack a Typographic Punch
“Square-Serif Fonts Pack a Typographic Punch including Rockwell, Serifa, Memphis, American Typewriter and many others including Chunk Five.”

5 Favorite Fonts with Hidden Type Ornaments
“5 Favorite Fonts with Hidden Type Ornaments shows samples from Minion Pro, Adobe Caslon Pro, Chaparral Pro, Zapfino and Warnock Pro.”

Specific Typefaces

The Century Typeface: An American Original
“The Century Typeface: An American Original. Available from many type foundries in many variations, Century is one of the most readable typefaces available.”

Typefaces I Can’t Live Without: Adobe Myriad Pro
“Typefaces I Can’t Live Without: Adobe Myriad Pro, a versatile sans serif font that can be used in almost endless ways in typographic designs like book design.”

Typefaces of 1932: Weiss Roman Specimens
“Typefaces of 1932: Weiss Roman Specimens shows pages from a booklet issued by Bauer Type Foundry for the printers of the time.”

Typeface Combinations

3 Great Typeface Combinations You Can Use in Your Book
“Deciding which typefaces to use can be a challenge for new self-publishers. Three great combinations of text and display typefaces are suggested, with illustrations of each.”

7 New Typeface Combinations for Book Design
“7 New Typeface Combinations for Book Design including typefaces for seven different genres of books, including Garamond, Janson, Helvetica and many other typefaces.”

Typographic Chapter Openings

8 Drop Caps For Chapter Openings in Adobe InDesign
“8 Drop Caps For Chapter Openings in Adobe InDesign with variations you can use in your own books to lend a decorative air to the beginning of your chapters.”

Book Design: 6 Variations on Drop-Cap Typography
“Book Design: 6 Variations on Drop-Cap Typography describes different methods to add decoration to book chapter openings.”

Fonts on the Book Page

3 Keys to Beautiful Book Pages
“3 Keys to Setting Up Successful Book Pages for self-publishers. Defining the typeface, line length and leading help determine the overall look of the book.”

Book Design to Sell: Fonts for Books
“Book Design to Sell: Fonts for Books with Laura Cross. In an interview Joel Friedlander talks about how to choose fonts for self-published books.”

7 Things You Can Do Today to Improve Your Book Design
“7 Things You Can Do Today to Improve Your Book Design including picking the right fonts and setting up your book pages.”

History of Typefaces

Beautiful Details, Beautiful Books: How to Recognize Oldstyle Typefaces
“Beautiful Details, Beautiful Books: How to Recognize Oldstyle Typefaces including Bembo, a classic book typeface from fifteenth century Venice.”

Typefaces as History: Aldus Manutius and The Noble Bembo
“Typefaces as History: Aldus Manutius and The Noble Bembo, showing how characters straight out of renaissance Italy influence the typefaces we use today.”

Old John Baskerville and the Birth of Modern Printing Paper
“Old John Baskerville and the Birth of Modern Printing Paper, where we see that the influence of technology can work to advance arts or retard them.”

General Articles on Fonts

Fun With Fonts—Identifont
“Fun With Fonts–Identifont typeface identification and search functions for book designers and typographers.”

These 3 Typography Websites Will Change How You Look at Type
“These 3 Typography Websites Will Change How You Took at Type including LetterheadFonts.com , ILoveTypography.com and WeLoveTypography.com.”

Understanding Fonts & Typography
“Understanding Fonts & Typography for self-publishers who want to design their own books.”

Photo by visual_dichotomy

tbd advanced publishing starter kit

20 Comments

  1. Michele

    Joel, thank you for the resources! What do you think about the Dyslexie font? I’ve heard it’s designed to make it easier for people with dyslexia to read. https://www.dyslexiefont.com/en/dyslexie-font/
    I’m thinking I would like to use it when my manuscript is ready.

    Reply
      • Michele

        Very helpful! Thanks again Joel. I like your idea about readers being able to choose the fonts they like best in ebooks. The Dyslexie font is visually appealing to me, but of course different readers have different preferences.

        Reply
  2. Julia

    Joel,
    Thanks for great article and forum for responses. I have one question. What is ‘humanistic elegance’ from your discussion on Garamond?
    Julia

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Julia,
      Humanistic typefaces are derived from calligraphic models, and Garamond is a particularly elegant one IMO.

      Reply
  3. Sasha

    Hi! Does anyone know what type of license one would need to use a font that is not free, like Calisto? On their webpage it says a Desktop and a Web licenses, as the two available options. Any information would be appreciated.

    Reply
  4. Thais

    Hello Joel,
    May I ask you what is the font on the image on the beggining of the page?

    Thank you so much,
    Thais

    Reply
  5. Lilly

    What is the font on the photo??

    Reply
  6. Keith Tankard

    May I ask a related question on fonts? I’ve been producing an ezine for people with a passion for history (also one for English teachers and learners). They’re free and are meant to add something to my country’s social well being. But here is my problem.

    Initially I went for a font which I thought looked nice (I think it was Century or Century Gothic but with heading in Kaufmann BD BT). And to me it looked good when converted to PDF. But one day I saw the document on my wife’s computer and it looked truly dreadful because her computer was unable to read that font and therefore converted to what it decided was the next best thing, and it was nowhere near the next best. Later I bought an iPad and saw the same problem. It was a shock and my reaction was to convert to Arial.

    I read in two of your articles the suggestion that one should use something like League Gothic for the front page and Garamond for the general text. OK, but how does one know that all computers, iPads, etc, are going to read this text and not convert it to something else, especially since I had to download both fonts from Font Squirrel because neither were on my computer?

    Reply
  7. Maggie Dana

    Fonts are like lipstick and nail polish. Too many to choose from.

    Reply
  8. Evelyn Puerto

    Thanks so much for putting all of this in one place. What a fabulous resource!

    Reply
  9. Maggie Dana

    Chris

    Lovely combination you’be chosen. I use Goudy a lot; also Sabon, another elegant old style typeface.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      I think Sabon was 6th on my list when I created the “Top 5” post. It’s an elegant and useful faces that’s been used in many many books, so thanks for the suggestion Maggie.

      Reply
  10. Tracy

    Sometimes I think too much choice is a bad thing. There are so many fonts and sub-variations on those fonts that it makes my head spin. Perhaps I can’t process more than 3-5 choices for a given item effectively. It’s a shame there isn’t a simple table to select appropriate fonts that is infallible. Or an “infallible five for free” that will work for any print or e-book.

    Reply
    • Tracy

      HA!, Guess i missed the link to “5 Favorite Fonts for Interior Book Design”…. Long.. Long.. Long Day…

      Reply
      • Joel Friedlander

        Tracy, yes, that was exactly the idea behind suggesting just a few classic typefaces because the sheer number of fonts available can be daunting to the uninitiated. Hope that helps.

        Reply
  11. chris

    Thanks for this all-in-one list.

    I think I’ve finally settled for a font pairing for the interior of my non-fiction book: Gill Sans for headings and Goudy Old Style for the normal text. I’ve printed out a couple of pages and it looks nice.

    Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Chris, those fonts can work well together, especially if you use one of the bolder versions of Gill Sans to give some contrast and color to the pages. Goudy Old Style is an old favorite of mine and makes beautiful book pages.

      Reply

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