Typography and Fun With Fonts


One of the many reasons that authors choose to self-publish is the control you retain over the appearance of your book. Certainly, the cover has a big impact on setting the reader’s expectations. Mood, period, and subject can all be communicated through more than just words. Even without graphics, we can communicate all these characteristics with the use of appropriate fonts. While I can wax poetic about body fonts (fonts used for the main text of your book), today, we’ll jump into the fun side of typography and using display fonts for covers and chapter titles. The fonts you use can have a big impact on how your words are perceived. For example, the phrase “I can’t live without you,” can communicate very different messages depending on your font choice.

One is flirty and sweet, while the other may leave you concerned for your safety.
There are several characteristics of fonts that can impact how your reader perceives your message. Let’s look at different classifications of fonts: Serif, Sans Serif, Script, and Decorative. These are the four primary classifications. There are many subcategories for each of these classifications, so if you really want to geek out, Fonts.com has an excellent primer to dive into.

Fonts like Garamond, Baskerville, Trajan, and Bodoni Classic are all serif fonts. Serifs are the slight projections at the terminations of letterforms. In the context of display fonts, (see example on first page) they tend to convey tradition. They might indicate a historic period or an academic influence. They’re structured, familiar, and easy to read. For body fonts, most novels use serif fonts.

Arial, Helvetica, Gotham, and Calibri are examples of sans serif fonts. ‘Sans’ is French, meaning ‘without’. These fonts are without serifs. In everyday life, this class is found heavily in digital applications: websites, smart phone interfaces, etc. They tend to feel a bit more modern, and rely heavily on weight and sometimes angle to communicate mood.

Read the entire article in the May 2023 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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