Fonts, Typefaces, and Your Novel

lettersWhat font is right for your novel? Is it better to mess around and find something new or go with your computer’s automatic settings? Do you want different fonts for hard copies, ebooks, and submissions, or is there a one-size-fits all?

I’ve been fascinated by fonts ever since I started typing stories on my parents’ computer as a kid. To this day I love scrolling through the many options available both on my laptop and online. There are so many different effects the right typeface can create or enhance, so many voices a writer can speak through without worrying about actual writing skill. I could spend hours finding the perfect font for a project. The publishing industry is much more in favor of the routine than I am, however, and not only are there expected standards, but what you choose can also affect how readers perceive you and how easy your novel is to read.

There is wiggle room when selecting a typeface, but there are also guidelines that everyone looks for and that can take you a long way as a writer. In general, here’s what you should aim for:

For submissions:

I’ve mentioned earlier that editors prefer typewriter style fonts to others. This is because of the spacing that each letter takes up, which makes it easier to mark editing notes. You should keep everything the same font and size throughout the document. Of course, you should always make sure to check with the publishing company you’re submitting to beforehand so that you can keep up with anything else they want.

For self-publishing:

Yes, there are still guidelines for self-publishing. Keep the fancier fonts for the title–“fancier” meaning anything that isn’t extra basic, simple and easy to read. Print novels should stay with serif fonts like Times New Roman. “Serif” means that the letters have little tails sticking out from them, giving them a curvier look that is easier to read on the printed page.

Letter A as a serif!
Serif letter A!

E-books can have either serif or sans-serif fonts (without the tails, like Helvetica). Computer screens have a different effect on the eyes from printed pages, and it’s easier to read simpler, sans-serif fonts on most electronic devices. The big exception to this is ebook readers like Kindle and Nook.

 

sans-serif
Sans-serif letter A!

 

 

Obviously, you want to stick with something simple and easy for your readers to cover. You don’t want to interrupt their experience with overly elaborate fonts. The story is the most important thing. But that doesn’t mean the end of flowery fonts for writing. I often scratch my fancy-font itch by going with whatever I want for the rough draft and toning it down when I’m ready to go back for revisions. Writing should be fun, after all!

What are your favorite fonts for writing? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. I look forward to hearing from you!

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