As indie authors, we're in the fortunate position to be in charge of all aspects of our book creation. But this can be a bit overwhelming sometimes. We have to do everything from writing and marketing to commissioning (or designing) book covers and ensuring everything is legal.
This is why it's easy to overlook something like the font we use in our print books. Unfortunately, overlooking something like this can negatively affect the reader's experience. And in a crowded marketplace, that's the last thing we want to do. Luckily, all you have to do is read on to learn the best fonts for print books.
- The difference between font and typeface.
- Why font matters.
- Best fonts to use in your print books.
Table of contents
Font vs Typeface
Before we move on to the meat of the article, let's get the old font vs typeface conundrum out of the way. Simply put, a typeface is an overarching category under which different fonts or font families live. When we discuss serif and sans serif below, we're talking about two different typefaces.
Typefaces are separated based on several factors, including the presence of a serif, weight, balance, spacing, and even the difference in size between upper and lowercase letters.
Font, on the other hand, refers to differences among a certain typeface. Roboto is a sans-serif typeface, but there are several variations, including thin, light, normal, medium, bold, and black. These are known as fonts.
This distinction is important if you plan on working with a designer. Being able to speak the same language helps when discussing the print design of your book.
Why Does Font Matter?
If you've ever read a large chunk of text formatted in italic, then you know it can be hard on the eyes after a while. This is just one example of why font matters. As an author, it's important to ensure that the reader can continue reading your book for hours and hours without getting fatigued. But if you choose the wrong font, reader fatigue can happen.
The right font will also help bring out your book's personality. Whether it's a nonfiction book about sea creatures or an epic fantasy featuring a kingdom of creatures of the sea, you'll want to choose a font that's both easy to read and appropriate for the subject matter.
You'll also want to keep your ideal audience in mind. A font that's familiar to one group of readers may not be so for another group.
But with so many different fonts to choose from — Times New Roman, Google Fonts, Century Gothic, and even a font family known as Las Vegas — how do you know which is best for your book?
Well, it's easier than you'd think.
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Serif and Sans Serif
The two major font categories are serif and sans serif. Serif fonts are designed with little flourishes that help lead the eye from one letter to the next, making for a pleasant reading experience. They're the print version of a handwritten font. As you can imagine, serif fonts are a favorite for the body text of books, since they're easy on the eyes.
Sans serif fonts — meaning without serif — are a little more blocky and abrupt. They don't naturally lead the eye from one letter to the next. But that's not to say they're hard to look at. They're not — at least for small text blocks. This is why sans serif fonts are often used in chapters, book titles, and section headings.
So if you come away with nothing else from this article, remember that the body text of your print book should be in a serif font.
But to help you narrow things down a bit more, we've gathered a number of fonts you can use in your print book. Read on to learn about them.
Best Fonts for Print Books
The best font for your print book will vary depending on several factors mentioned above. But most authors should find one or more of the fonts below suitable for their books.
Note: All the fonts mentioned in this section are free to use in print books without a license. While getting sued for using any given font isn't likely, it's still a good idea to ensure you're not violating a license agreement when using a font. Learn more about font copyright here. With that said, we are not legal experts and are not offering legal advice. This is for information purposes only.
Crimson Pro is a serif font that is ideal for long blocks of text. It has a classical feel to it, making it a good option for historical fiction, sword and sorcery, and certain narrative nonfiction books.
Another serif font, Spectral is ideal for long-form reading. It's a newer free font commissioned by Google Fonts. It has a more modern look than Crimson Pro, making it better for contemporary print books.
Open Sans is a good option for use in chapter titles and headings. It's simple, clean, and legible. But since it is a sans serif font, it's not ideal for use in the body text of a book. It was originally designed for web use.
Baskerville is a font designed a few hundred years before the advent of the internet. As such, it's a classic-style font best known for its use on memorial inscriptions. Like Open Sans, it's not ideal for use in the body text since it's hard to read in smaller sizes. But it can be a great option for chapter headings.
As the name suggests, Open Dyslexic is designed for dyslexic readers, making English easier to read for those dealing with this disorder.
Another member of the serif typeface, Young Serif is a newer addition that features bracketed serifs along with tilted es and os.
Garamond is a serif font that features a more serious style perfect for contemporary literature, many nonfiction subjects, and novels with a classic feel.
Another classic serif font, Caslon was designed in the eighteenth century and is still in use today. It's ideal for body text because it's easy on the eye.
Rosario is what's known as a semi-serif font. It's an elegant font style that has weak endings and classic proportions. Rosario is one of the best fonts on this list for use in instructional and academic nonfiction books.
This font was designed with long bouts of reading in mind. As you can probably guess, it's a part of the serif family, and it's good for a wide range of genres.
If you're looking for a mix of classic and contemporary, Cinzel could be for you. Great for certain romances, urban fantasy, and books in the horror genre, this highly readable font is a great choice in the serif family.
The Delius font is one designed for use in comic books. The lettering looks like a marker or pen would make, making it ideal for use in comics or graphic novels.
The following fonts aren't all free to use. So before you make your font choice, make sure to check the license to see what it takes to use it in your book.
Designed by Matthew Carter and released through Microsoft in 1996, this font is easily readable and great for use in the body text of books.
Part of the Adobe Fonts family, Franklin Gothic features a heavy, industrial style. It's a member of the sans serif typeface and is ideal for chapter and section headings.
Known as an often-used web font, Proxima Nova is often used in web design and in certain types of printed material such as fliers and magazine covers. It's ideal for headlines and other large texts.
A member of the serif family, Trajan Pro has its roots in Roman square capitals. It's a good mixture of classic and modern that can be used in big blocks of text.
Where to Find Fonts
There are several places where you can find fonts online. But one of the best places is through the book-writing tool Atticus. Using the formatting option, you can select from many different font styles — all of them guaranteed free to use. There’s even a large print option for readers with poor eyesight.
You can see what your book will look like in a given font style right in the app, without printing or even downloading a file. This is in addition to many other features, such as word count goal tracking, find and replace, and ProWritingAid integration, to name a few.
Atticus offers over a dozen different premade book themes. But you can also design your own custom themes with your choice of headings, chapter styles, scene breaks, and fonts. You can also choose the right font size with the click of the button in Atticus, allowing you total control over the finished product without hours and hours of graphic design experience. In fact, Atticus is designed for ease of use. If you can use a word processor like Microsoft Word or Google, you can use this tool.
Check out Atticus here.
If you have a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, you can also access Adobe Fonts, which are all free to use in ebooks and print books.There's no such thing as the perfect font for all books. But with a little looking, you can certainly find the perfect one for your book.