March 3, 2014

HOW TO BOOK: Font Basics!

Now I'm gonna start this one off with the fact that I am not a master of fonts, I just happen to really enjoy them, so I know a bit about them, but there's still a lot I'm learning. Okay now that that's out of the way, LET'S TALK FONTS.

Hmmm... Fonts, you say?

One of the big things when making a book of any kind (novel, graphic novel, art book, magazine, brochures,etc), is deciding what font you want to use. To me, I find that fonts can make or break a document, so while I lament about my own fonts, I wanted to first chat about them with you guys.

Crash Course In Fonts

Okay! I'm mainly going to cover the very very extreeeeeeeme basics when it comes to fonts. Honestly, I could fill pages, and other people already have made books on this, and websites, and everything else. So I just want to touch on my opinions and knowledge about fonts.

First off a font is basically the different ways text can be written/designed/made (there are technical terms, but I'm trying to avoid lots of weird vocabulary here). There are hundreds of thousands of types of fonts. You may know of them from when you're in Word, and need to pick something other than Calibri to type a letter.

Your list may vary.

There are many types of fonts, with kernings, spacings, and all sorts of other little doodads that even I don't remember at the moment. What you need to worry about are two types of fonts. Serif, and Sans-Serif.

Serif fonts are fonts that have those little decorative bits on the ends of words.

Sans-Serif (I think sans is either latin or french for "without", I'm not remembering right away here) is a font that does NOT have the little decorative bits on the ends of the letters.

Top font: Times New Roman
Bottom Font: Arial

I mostly included this because on font websites, this is a set of the major groupings they'll have in their search tools.

A Time and a Place for All Fonts

I think it's wise to note that there's a time and a place for all fonts. That's really what font choice comes down to. Are you using a font that is appropriate for the situation/document?

You're not going to use Comic Sans to write a letter to the CEO of a company (or *cough as headers in a serious textbook cough* #REALLYHAPPENED), but you might use it to make a cute birthday card, or a happy poster for an event!

You're not going to use Impact to write an entire letter in. But using it in meme pictures? IDEAL.

How your fonts display to people (and this will vary depending on if it's a digital source or printed!), will have an impact on how they view your work. Are you making something that's supposed to be serious? Don't use CurlsMT. Are you making something that's supposed to look fanciful? Try to avoid things like Calibri.

Making a comic? I suggest using an all-caps style font, or something sans-serif at least: like CC Wild Words.

Are you having your document printed? I strongly suggest printing a low-quality draft, just to get an idea of what it might look like! (I do this frequently because sometimes the digital view just displays differently than printed, and honestly, sometimes you don't realize something doesn't work until you hold it in your hands!)

Long story short: Play around with fonts.

Your first font won't necessarily be your last. (if you're making something large, this is unfortunately when InDesign overpowers other programs, because if you've set up your document correctly, a couple of mouse-clicks and you can change ALL your body text or headers instantly).

What's a Good Way to set up Fonts in my Document/Comic/Book?

Um... I'm gonna cover this in it's own post. Honestly, it would make this post like 14 pages long. TRUST ME. 

Short version: Look at books you like, try to emulate those.

Where can I find these ...Fonts?

Honestly? I go to a place called "Font Space", found at

When I'm there, I can search by keywords, categories, or just search randomly. I can type a string of words to get an instant preview, and I can set it to search ONLY commercial use fonts (aka. stuff you can use on stuff you make to sell!).

There are others, but I've found this one to be the most useful (and has the least amount of popup ads, others.... others you'll need ad blocker).

There are also programs you can use to make your own fonts from your own handwriting! (Something I'm looking into) But alas, I don't know a lot about them yet, so... I don't have much to add on that realm.

Where'd you learn this?

I love searching and using fonts. I've taken a class or two in design (and one on InDesign oh HO), and I like reading about layouts and graphical set ups. I don't know why I didn't go into it in college - I'm going to say mostly that I didn't know these things existed until near the end or after I graduated. I also didn't know I liked it until most of my way through college. 

And... I did a google search. I found some neat things. Take in mind nothing is set in stone as absolutes, but there's some very strong industry suggestions! They're at least worth a readthrough. :) Most are not too long, and they usually have pictures to help!

Picking Fonts for your Self Published Book - The Book Designer

Book & Magazine Fonts - Linotype

What's a Good Font for Your Book? - Making it Easy

The Wisdom of Fonts – 10 book typefaces that can’t go wrong - Fiction et al

7 Fonts to Never Use in Your Book - Wise Ink Blog

Okay that's enough blather from me right now! Time to go back and mess with the book some more...

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