Thursday, October 25, 2012


I've shifted my fonts on computer applications, apart from Blogger, from something designed to be screen readable, like sans serif Calibri or Verdana, and now use Palatino Linotype.  More of a print font, but works fine on the screen, too, I think.

It's an older style font and is pretty ubiquitous.  And it is a fine classic font that many of the books you've read in your life were printed in.  Or something similar.  Something like the Bembo, or Garamond.  Remember fonts changed when hot metal typesetting machines had to adopt earlier, more hand made type.  I like Palatino.  For one reason, the r and n don't run together to appear to me a m when you type burn, and it looks more like bumStupid Georgia....

Plus, Linotype, duh.  Put that in the marketing and you get a sale, for me.

If you are self-publishing, here are some rules, quick and dirty:

  1. Use 11-point Palatino for text.
  2. Use 14-point Helvetica for chapter titles and 12-point Helvetica for section headings.
  3. Never use monospaced (a.k.a. “typewriter”) fonts, e.g., Courier, except when mocking up documents, i.e., reports, that actually use such a font.
  4. Use unusual fonts only for short items, e.g., the title and author's name on the cover, or for chapter titles.
  5. Don't use too many fonts. Three should be enough for almost any book.
  6. Check books you like the look of, and see which fonts they use. Half an hour in a bookstore looking at fonts can be very useful and enlightening.

I am a little tired of Helvetica.  It's a nice enough font but it is in too many places and I don't like what it did to world we see since 1960.  James Lileks practically has a whole sight that inadvertently is a rejection of Helvetica, and I share his sentiment.  There is a documentary on how Helvetica conquered the post Eisenhower world.

Think about it.  For a book you need the Body font for the majority of the words, a larger different Chapter font, a fancy big Illumination style font for the first letter of a chapter if your taste go that way.  A larger and maybe tall and thin font for the Cover.  If you have a character like Death in Discworld you may need a font for him.  Thats five total, and plenty.  Don't go nuts.  And do me a favor... avoid Helvetica.  Just cuz.  I won't hold you to it, but it'd be a refreshing gesture.


breda said...

Agh, 11-point.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

YES! ELEVEN!!!!!!1!!11!!!eleven