Picking fonts for your book

When you are designing your self-published book the questions of which font to use and which font size are important ones. A good font can be one of the reasons why a reader picks up your book in the first place. You need your book to be legible and easy to read. It may be necessary to use different fonts / typefaces for different formats.

Every basic word processing program has  an array of fonts and many more are available online. However, not all of them work well on eReaders or in print. The most popular fonts seem to be Times New Roman, Arial and Comic Sans but there are others out there which work for readers as well.

Thanks to computers one of the most popular fonts is Times New Roman. Obviously Times New Roman was designed for the Times Newspapers in the days when newspapers used narrow columns and small font sizes because print and paper were expensive commodities. It was nice, clear and elegant even in small type. Another popular font for word processors is Arial. Arial is a version of Helvetica, a popular font of yore. Helvetica is a clear font without any serifs so it looks clean on the page and is easy to read. As such it is a popular choice for road signs and companies. Arial itself is easy to read and good for people who are not good readers as it is a sans serif font.

Personally, I think Times New Roman is too squashed up with not enough kerning or letter spacing for a modern print book. I use Arial a lot for work publications but I am not sure I would like to read a whole book in it. The original Garamond is a little too fussy for me and I am not fond of serif typefaces. I am not sure it would work on an eReader either.More modern versions seem cleaner and clearer.

Usually I work in Bookman Old Style font which was very popular in the 1960s and 1970s. It has wide characters and lower case letters are 3/4 of the way up the upper case letters giving it a nice look on the page. The letters  look clean on the page as each letter is balanced with kerning which makes for uniformity. However, I have been looking at Granjon which derives from Garamond. It was the font used in Patti Smith’s M Train with a nice line spacing where it worked well. I am not too sure how it will work with literary fiction though as it is a lighter weight font. Similar to Bookman Old Style is Palatino Linotype. In Palatino the letters are more chiselled and the foot of the letters is shorter so the typeface seems cleaner on the eye.

If you are interested in learning more about fonts and typefaces I have found the following article useful: Picking Fonts. For information about typography I recommend  an article by Janie Kliever which is where the illustration below comes from.




Formatting a manuscript for ePublishing

A few days ago, I was asked to explain my experience of ePublishing and how I went about preparing my novel to be published as an eBook. The process, as I explained, is not very complicated and can be easily accomplished in a few minutes. The snag is, of course, that the manuscript needs to be formatted correctly for an eBook before you begin the process. I thought I would share my ideas with a wider circle. So, here goes.

The most important thing you do, apart from write the text, is to format the manuscript so that it can be easily converted into an ePub file without a lot of HTML errors. I find that the easiest and best way to do this is to set up the formatting before I begin typing. Reformatting a huge manuscript after you have written it is a major headache. I know this from experience. This is what works for me:

  1. avoid all fancy formatting, styles, headers, footers, footnotes, table of contents, line breaks, page breaks, different colours and page numbering;
  2. create your cover separately as a PowerPoint JPEG but put a smaller image into the text at the beginning;
  3. set up the document before beginning typing using Word styles (this is the formatting bar at the top of your screen under the ribbon) and having this as a default setting so that all writing is done on the same template – this saves lots of hassle;
  4. have clearly defined styles: I use Heading 3 as my chapter headings so that the converter can easily pick them out to create the table of contents and my body text is written in the Normal style with a line spacing of 1.5;
  5. this is what it says under the modify button: Font: 14 pt, Bold, Line spacing: single, Space,  Before:  14 px, Keep with next, Keep lines together, Level 3, Style: Linked, Hide until used, Quick Style, Priority: 10
  6. have body text paragraphs setting up so that as you type Word automatically indents your paragraphs;
  7. I have a hanging first line of 36px;
  8. keep an eye on your use of the Enter button on your keyboard and minimize the black spaces between paragraphs and chapters;
  9. test out small texts on different e-ink devices to see what works best for you;
  10. do not use fancy fonts as they do not convert well.


A converted documented which can be read an e-ink device is basically a html document similar to the kind of page you see on a website. Text wraps around so if you press Enter or Return at the end of each line you will mess up the text.

I generally save my documents as a doc file but you can save them as HTML files and RTF files depending on the conversion program you choose.

Formatted Doc

Formatted Doc