Friday, 22 February 2013

Figuring out fonts

For the past couple of days, I’ve been studying fonts. I want to find the exactly right one for the cover of my upcoming book, the Warrior’s Heart. Anyone who has ever tried to do the same knows it’s not easy. The sheer amount of fonts is overwhelming and just because you like a font doesn’t mean it’s suitable for your purpose. There was a timely reminder of the latter on my twitter feed only this week:

I looked at fonts on only one website, Fonts2U, and there only on one category, gothic fonts. The fonts on that site are mostly free to download, but they are not all free to use. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a handy search function that would have limited the search to those I could use so I ended up going through approximately 500 fonts of about 2500 there were in that category. It took me quite a while. I really like fonts and I don't find the task of finding the right one a burden. But, after a while, they all began to look the same.

Today, I went through what I had downloaded. I had found quite a few nice fonts and I tested them all. They weren’t all suitable for this book, but I can use them in others. And there were more than one that was almost perfect so the task of finding the right one isn’t over yet.

So what is the right font then? Frankly, it’s impossible to tell, but you can narrow down the possibilities.
  • The right font has the right atmosphere for the genre of your book. It can be romantic, funny, futuristic or gothic, for example. For the most part, these are pretty straightforward to figure out. If you’re not exactly sure, study the covers of the professionally designed books of the same genre.
  • The right font is legible. As I went through the font samples, I skipped all those that I couldn't read with one glance. Remember, too, that just because a font is readable on large sizes, it doesn’t necessarily remain so when the cover is shrunk to a thumbnail, so test it out.
  • The right font isn’t overused. This is perhaps the most difficult thing for an amateur to know about until someone points it out. I wouldn't worry about this one overly much, but I would avoid the obvious ones. I downloaded the Hobbit font used in - or similar to that in - the Lord of the Rings movies, but it's too recognisable to use in anything but funny private projects.
  • The right font is the one you’re allowed to use. Remember to check the licenses.
I have found these points helpful when narrowing down the possibilities. I hope they will help you too. And if you need more, here's a couple of useful links:

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