According to fontfeed.com, there are over 455,000 fonts and 25,000 font families currently in existence. If you find yourself scratching your head when it comes to typography, do not feel alone. All fonts are not created equal!
When you are ready to publish, how do you choose the right one?
While I am not a typographer, I have been researching this topic. Experts dedicate their life to the subject of fonts, how to combine them, and format publications. As a perpetual student always trying to improve and learn, let me sum it up by saying this…
Choosing a suitable font requires forethought, knowledge, and an understanding of formatting.
As I learn more about this area of publishing, I want to pass my discoveries along to you, my readers. Over the next few posts we will be discussing some basic definitions, principles, and suggestions for how to use fonts for a professional look. If your writing has multiple styles of text (title, chapter heading, subheadings, and body text) learning how to coordinate the type styles and formatting will improve its final appearance.
The Basic Font Categories
- Serif Fonts
Serif fonts are characterized by a little line at the end of each stroke. The lines that make the letters range in size from thick to thin like the stroke of a pen. These are the classical types of fonts. They may be used for any part of a book from title to body text. Serif fonts are easy to read so they are suitable for large areas of text.
- Sans-serif Fonts
Sans is the French word for “without.” These fonts do not have the extra little flourish seen at the end of the serif type. Most of these font styles have a consistent weight to the stroke. The ratio of serifs to san serifs is 2:3.
Sans-serif fonts are suitable for the book and chapter titles, headers and footers, subheadings and any short lines of text. However, sans serif type is difficult to read especially in a print book , so avoid using it in the main body or for any large block of text.
- Slab Serif Fonts
This font category is similar to serif but the lines are thicker and mostly uniform. They are good for reading but will make the page appear darker. Slab serif is good to use in children’s books.
- Modern Fonts
Modern types are similar to their parent serif, but they have a radical change in the thick to thin stroke. The result is a more striking, elegant appearance. They should not be used in the body text.
- Script Fonts
This includes all of the types that look as if they were made with a calligraphy pen. Because they are so stylized, they should be used in moderation.
- Decorative Fonts
These fonts are playful. They have their own unique design and often an look like art. Use them sparingly for book or even chapter titles. A little goes a long way.
Which font for what purpose?
It’s easy to see how confusing the choice could be. Over the next few weeks we will take a look at formatting principles, which fonts go best together, and where to find the perfect type for your project.
If you want to dig in and learn more, here is an excellent resource: