A font of knowledge – choosing the right typeface for your novel

Among the seemingly endless things to worry about when you’re publishing your own book is a font for the text. Many authors probably skim over this detail with little consideration, choosing Times Roman or going with whatever font their manuscript happens to be in at the time, but this would be an error. No writer would publish their novel in a sans serif font… would they? Giving everyone the benefit of the doubt and reducing possible fonts to the serif family, is there a BEST font to use?

The answer is no, they’re all pretty much great. BUT, some fonts are more great than others!

When it came to choosing a font for my novel, Mrs God, I wanted something that reflected the theme and tone of the piece. I wanted something classy, yet easily readable. Something chunky, but not clunky.

I went to a graphic artist friend of mine called Dermot Ahern who has decades of experience with fonts. He remembers the ‘good old days’ of hot metal type and lead slugs and actual cases for upper and lower case letters! When I told him what the book was about he said one word: “Palatino.” And no, it’s not a horse.

Once Dermot showed me examples of the font, I was hooked. Mrs God would be published in Palatino… and so it was.

Here’s Dermot’s reasoning:

“I chose Palatino for Mrs God because having worked with so many typefaces during my life and if I happen to pick up a book or magazine which has been set in Palatino it nearly always brings a smile to my face, like an old friend whom I hadn’t seen for a while. Its style, clarity and readability achieved through a large x-height and generous kerning, its beautifully crafted italics and if one takes the trouble to use the ligatures and diphthongs would see the true beauty of the font.

Palatino“All serif typefaces have stress within the font be it vertical or diagonal and it is said that a font which has diagonal stress makes readability even greater as vertical stress tends to interrupt the flow of the eye perhaps only for a millisecond, but diagonal stress contained within a font makes it for a more enjoyable and easy read, you will find your eyes less tired having trawled through numerous pages. So as you can see there’s a lot more to a piece of text that meets the “eye”.

“As you can see from the sample attached [left], Palatino uses diagonal stress and in my opinion wins the competition between Times and Garamond hands down. A good choice for Mrs God and looking forward to seeing the end product.”

Dermot also reiterated the rule that you must never have more than two different fonts in your book. In my case I had a stylised font for the book’s title and Palatino throughout the text, but no other font was used.

So, if 2014 is the year your book is going to be published, then give a second thought to the font of your text. Your readers may (subconsciously) thank you for it.

Download Mrs God now from Amazon or Smashwords from just $2.99 (€2.17).


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