What I learnt about formatting a book—part 2

Is this too much? Sometimes less is more.

In my last post, we were looking at issues affecting your choice of font when writing a book, now it’s on to part two. This is mainly about the text within the book and not the title or cover pages—those have more issues to think about.

Fonts—part 2

  • If creating a book printed in colour as opposed to black and white, do you want to use a font in colour instead of black?   I would take care not to use a colour that is too bright.  The reader will have to look away because it’s too intense.  If I was to print a book in colour, I may entertain the idea of printing the chapter headings in another colour or put a different colour stroke (outline of the letter) or fill (the colour within the stroke) for easier readability.  No fill means the letters are just outlined.
  • What kind of feeling do you want the font to evoke?  For example: happy, scary, elegant, handwritten, modern, trendy, powerful, peaceful or childlike?  Do you want to create movement or luminosity within the words?
  • Height versus width of each letter.  If you are doing a two column page format for the main body of the book, you may not have the luxury of using a wide font as the columns are narrow.
  • Look at the tracking (the spacing within the whole word), leading (the vertical spacing between the lines of text) and kerning (the space between the letters) of the font.  Tracking and kerning are different things.  Look at the ascender and descender height of the letters.



Common font problems.


  • The size of the font.  If your audience is older adults, you may like to use a larger font size.
  • What punctuation or symbols are included with the font? Some fonts have a limited amount of extra characters like °,é*@$%.  Not every font comes with numbers either.
  • If you don’t use them already, learn about alt keys for glyphs. They’re great.  Instead of writing 3/4 for a fraction, you can type ¾.
  • When creating chapter headings with two lines of text, try not to have more words on the top line than the bottom—otherwise it looks top heavy.  Try not to end the top line with a small word like a, of, or the.
  • Does the style of your book lend itself to using drop caps at the start of the chapter?  How decorative or easy to read should they be?
  • Look at the font sizes in relation to each other, i.e. the title, chapter, sub-chapter and paragraph (main body of the text).
  • The font should be quite plain when there is a lot of text on the page.
  • Use of words in capitals.  These are not as easy to read.  From the time we learn to read, we train ourselves to not read every letter but look at the outline of the word.
  • What other elements will be present on each page such as bullet points or numbered lists?  How will these be indented? Do you want to draw your own bullet points and insert them as images?
  • Finally, how many fonts are needed on the one page?  Too many fonts can be intense but you can have different ones for titles, chapter headings, captions, text on pictures and the main body text.  Alternatively you can use different effects of the one font such as bold, regular, or italics.


These tips will get you started on the right path with fonts.  I wrote 16 pages of notes on fonts and spent around 2-3 months studying and coming up with the right font for my books.  It was a lot of fun learning about fonts even though I was frustrating finding the right fonts for me.  If you are struggling with fonts, try designing or modifying a font for your name and go crazy with it.  You’re more likely to try some different options than when writing the title of your book.

Happy quilting and font hunting,




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