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Jacci Howard Bear

Best Fonts for Books

By August 31, 2004

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Alex writes, "I would like to know what are the preferred fonts (name and size ) for a book of short stories and short theater?" While there's no specific fonts by name that are preferred for books or any other type of document there are certainly some fonts better suited for the job. A script face, for example, wouldn't make the list. Check out the reader recommendations described in the comments and read this  new (added 2013) resource:

Are You Using the Best Fonts?Finding the Best Fonts for Books offers both general guidelines for font selection and lists of specific fonts that work well in most book designs.





Image includes metal type photo by Andrein; CC-SA-By 2.0 via Flickr.com

Updated January 2013

November 7, 2007 at 3:10 pm
(1) Joćo says:

Hi I’m from Brazil.. and I use Sabon 11/15

June 15, 2008 at 2:43 pm
(2) Drowling says:

Sabon 11/15 is excellent, though I don’t like Sabon Next, which is weird and does not print well on cheap printers. My favourite right now is Utopia (used by Apress). Also, Atma Serif is a very exotic but excellent font, especially at small sizes. It prints magnificently and has enough exclusivity about it to indicate that the author has made a careful choice of typeface.

May 24, 2009 at 10:04 pm
(3) honeydark says:

Hey! I’m from Brazil too!! Isn’t that weird? OK! I’m working on Chapter Books and I use size 12 with Times New Roman. (It also works well with Bookmen which is a font that is MADE for writing books although not many computers have it which is why I use New Times Roman)

May 29, 2009 at 5:46 pm
(4) matagalpa says:

From what I have heard and been taught in college (graphic design in publicity), the best fonts for something that is a long piece to read, are the ones in the category of ‘san serif’ such as arial, veranda, etc. and not times new roman and other fonts that have little decorative things; although this isn’t popular everywhere…

June 2, 2009 at 12:31 pm
(5) fontguy says:

Actually matagalpa, “sans serif” fonts are better for ONLINE readability. For books and printed matter, “sans serif” fonts (arial, helvetica, verdana) are good for headlines, but “serif” fonts (sabon, bookman, times) are better for the bulky text. The serifs (the little nubs at the ends of the letters) were designed by typesetters to ease the reader’s eye through the words. Doesn’t work very well on SMALL type, but works much better at normal readability sizes.

Visit a bookstore (or Amazon) and look at the typesetting of any current popular fiction book. They’re designed for maximum readability, and they’re all serifs.


September 3, 2009 at 10:04 pm
(6) ddsharper says:

fontguy is so smart and so correct. thanks fontguy. you are my hero!

December 16, 2009 at 4:55 pm
(7) Elisha says:

So do you stick with the 12 pt font? Why when formatted do the text look to small? I know it’s suppose to be small but it just seems like Roman Time 12 pt is to little for the text part. This is what i have my book of short stories formatted in. I don’t want to make the readers cross eyed. I was thinking of chosing a font that would be a little bigger but still at 12 pt. I noticed that in books already published, the fonts looks bigger. Maybe its just me

Also, the text is suppose to be single spaced right? Some books look like it is a space and a half.

Thanks in advance for the help

May 4, 2010 at 5:44 pm
(8) Dilppopcorn says:

Yeah seriously elisha is right do want people to die of small font

November 11, 2010 at 10:41 am
(9) jaslyn says:

I think this would be the best:

-One inch margins
-Double spaced text
-A single, clear, 12-point typeface
-No extra space between paragraphs
-An indented first line for each paragraph
-Information identifying the author and title of the manuscript on every page
-Page numbers

December 30, 2010 at 4:03 pm
(10) Monika says:

They always recommend Verdana but there is very little space after the ‘c’ so that it is sometimes confusing to read. I’m looking for a better font.

April 9, 2011 at 11:46 am
(11) Thekherham says:

I use Garamond, size 11.

November 27, 2011 at 9:13 pm
(12) dp design says:

I believe “fontguy” is correct; when considering font choices for printing or literary outcomes, tradition dictates body text are serif typefaces and header text can vary from serif, sans serif, slab serif, humanistic, decorative, script or modern.

Also what “jaslyn” says is true but I would elaborate further on this by perhaps considering a layout/composition technique such as a page canon (used primarily for classic literary or book based material) or a grid structure (used in every aspect of graphic design from books, newspapers, on screen, web based etc).

I am a 2nd year Graphic Design student from England and I am currently trying to source iconic literary typefaces from around the world, with an aim to narrow it down to perhaps five or six for use within a visual identity, for an International Literary Festival to be held in London’s South Bank in the Spring of 2012.

So far I have looked at English type makers such as John Baskerville, William Caslon, as well as creator of Gill Sans, Eric Gill.

It is particularly difficult to find relevant source material on the use of fonts within international literature and I would be grateful for any feedback on the subject.

Kind regards
David Patterson

November 27, 2011 at 9:25 pm
(13) dp design says:

Also with regard to readability, there are several points to consider:

Tracking (default distance between letters)
Kerning (distance between individual letters)
Line spacing (distance between base lines)

If left unresolved, these issues will impact the entire quality of the finished product.

These issues are unique and will vary between type faces so I’m afraid there is no quick fix solution to these problems.

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