Looking at all different books, I noticed that inside the majority of longer novels use classical fonts such as Garamond, Times New Roman etc. Few books have bolder fonts such as Helvetica, which are known to be the more modern style typefaces. Books that use this font tend to be more about factual information rather than a novel based book. Because stories are told in the past tense, it is appropriate to use an older looking font, especially for adult books because of the target audience the author would want to address.
If a more informal font was to be used in a novel, it could immediately turn people away from the book because of the prejudice appearance of it. It would not be formal or appropriate for everyone to be able to read and use. Stacie Vander Pol talks about the typefaces that are commonly mistaken on books, and explains the rules about them.
Rule 1 – Choosing a classic font.
Classic typefaces are often associated for being the best for book covers. They do not stand out too much and are appropriate for all book types for adults. Take this example. The font Monotype Corvisa (left) looks too scattered on the book and looks unfinished. The image on the right is written with the font Baskerville, cleaning up the cover a lot more, as well as making it easy to read at first glance.
Rule 2 – Max 2 typefaces merged.
People can mistake with the more typefaces, the more ‘artistic’ it looks. This is completely wrong. Typefaces just slapped on in any piece of work can look sloppy and messy. Take the image on the left for example; it has got Comic Sans, Georgia, Broadway and Helvetica. All these fonts are fine on their own, but merged together you can see it doesn’t fit with the purpose of the book. The image on the right looks much more professional. The typefaces are narrowed down to Georgia and Helvetica; both of these fonts suit the theme of the book, giving the correct impression of it.
But why use a classic typeface????
Look around, do you see major brands using big, bold, curvy and colourful types all in one?! No. why? Because using classic typefaces is what is used to help us to recognize it a lot better, and it is familiar to look at, giving a psychological sense of comfort when we see it. It sounds old-fashioned, however types that are over the top can prevent us wanting to explore more about the brand, as it takes away the clean, professional look about it.
Take a look at these examples; all of them are used in a completely classical look. Although they are logos, they still make the same statement than a book would make, as although people say they don’t do it, people do in fact judge the book by its cover.
So, what typeface should I use?
Microsoft Sans Serif
If you want to have more than one typeface on your front cover, you have to think about choosing two that are very different from another, but they also compliment each other with vague similarities between the two. You have to be careful to not choose two fonts that are TOO similar either. The best way is to choose one serif and one sans serif first, this way you will automatically avoid choosing fonts that are too similar. You then need to think about choosing one from the two categories that have similar characteristics between each other.
Typefaces more appropriate for children’s books
Children’s books are mainly the only exception to choosing a typeface that is quite dramatic and informal than usual. The rules of type still apply to these books, but the rules are a lot more flexible.
Olivia – The font for this book is classic, but it is bold and has lots of contrast to bring it out.
The Monster Princess – The two exaggerated typefaces contrast with each other, but they are used in very small amounts (aka one word), which keep the effectiveness of the font.
Dinosaurs Love Underpants – Here, the typeface has been altered so that they are not all even. Instead, they are positioned in such a way so that the type is discreetly more informal than normal, but still has that professional edge to it.
Cases and Weights
Cases should only really be used when emphasizing words on a book cover. In other cases, the blurbs use sentence cases to bring out the first line to the audience, and sometimes key words are in all caps only.
The term ‘Less is More’ is also used for typefaces. Although using Bold, Italic and Underlines etc. may look nice, it can lessen the impact of the title. Usually, it is used to emphasize only small parts.
Recommended for Book Covers:
Italics Upper Case
ITALICS ALL CAPS
Italics Small Caps
bold lower case
BOLD ITALICS ALL CAPS
See what I mean?
Using bold and italics must be very specific. Italics are often only used for quotes or a form of someone speaking. It is also used to emphasize a word such as ‘you know what I like.’
Bold words attract the eye a lot more. It is often used to help the reader find what they may be looking for. Take these examples of a book cover. The one on the left shows a poor choice of combination. There is too much going on with no stability on each line. The image on the right however emphasizes the words specifically to grab the reader’s attention on that area of the book when they first glance at it.