Choose Appropriate Fonts for Your Self-Published Book Interior
A quick look on your software reveals myriad choices of fonts and you can always find more! But like shopping in a candy store, you have to make judicious selections.
It is important to select appropriate fonts to communicate your message to your readers, particularly when dealing with titles and headlines. Why? Because specific fonts can evoke a certain attitude and feeling that reinforces your intended message.
Fonts for Headlines
Choose a bold font with the right personality for your book interior. After all, fonts (like people) have personalities, and different designs will appeal to people of different ages and backgrounds. Some common bold fonts are Helvetica Bold, Gill Sans Bold, Eras Bold, Univers Black, and Franklin Gothic Demi. Steer away from fonts that are so stylized and decorative that they are difficult to read.
Typically book designers use a 13-, 14-, 16-, or 24-point size for headlines and subheads. Avoid using all capital letters for your heads, subheads, or table of contents, because they’re difficult to read.
Fonts for Body Copy
The font you use for your body or text copy can have some personality, but make sure it is readable. Some easy-to-read fonts that are good choices for body copy are Garamond, Caslon, Goudy, Stone Print, New Century Schoolbook, and Janson Text. Typically, book designers use a 10-, 11-, or 12-point size for body copy. If your readers are either very young or senior citizens, then choose a simple, well-designed font in a larger size (13- or 14-point) so the font can be read without strain.
Use Full-Justified Paragraph Alignment for Your Book Interior
Most book interiors are set with full-justified body copy, because the reader’s eye can move more quickly across copy that has a consistent column width. Full-justified copy means the type is spaced in a way that both the left and right margins are straight and all lines are the same length. Using justified type makes a page look full and creates a tighter, more formal appearance than type that is not full justified (for example, text that is set ragged-right).
Set your column width to allow for at least a 1″ to 1.25″ gutter, and a .5″ border for top, bottom, and outside edges. The larger measurement for the gutter allows the reader to see the entire layout without having to open the book to a point where the spine cracks and is damaged.
Proper word spacing creates greater legibility and is also more pleasing aesthetically. Make sure there is neither too much space nor too little space between words. Too much space creates vertical “rivers of white” coursing through the pages, which is often seen in newspapers that have narrow columns. Page layout programs provide accurate controls for adjusting word and letter spacing (kerning).
Leading is the space between lines of type. Your choice of font, type size, word spacing, and length of line all affect the amount of leading you will need. The proper use of leading on your book interior will make it easier to read.
Length of Line (Column Width)
Reading many long lines of type causes fatigue. And lines that are too short break up words or phrases that are generally read as a unit. The length of line depends on the size of the type. Smaller type works best at shorter line lengths, while a larger type size is readable in a wide column length. A good rule of thumb is to set the line length between 40 and 65 characters long.