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Archived Author Help > Fonts - What do you find acceptable?

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message 1: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Everson (authorthomaseverson) | 424 comments This is going to be an extremely subjective question because we all have different tastes, but how do you feel about the use of different fonts for things other than inner dialogue.

Current different fonts that I'm using. Garamond for normal text. Gabriola for letters. Juice ITC for one character, but it is used quite a bit in the second half of the book.

I'm trying to balance creativity through the use of certain fonts, versus it being an easy read for people. My one beta reader didn't have a hard time reading it, but they're a strong reader.

All thoughts are welcome!


message 2: by Jane (new)

Jane Jago | 888 comments Purely personally, I don't like mixed fonts. It does my head in. Sorry.


message 3: by Hákon (new)

Hákon Gunnarsson | 53 comments I don't think there is any rule to something like this. I remember one book by William Faulkner, at least I think it was him, was supposed to have the letters in blue and red depending on what was going on. It wasn't done in the original release, only years later.

I haven't read many books that do this, but it is done in the copy I own of The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton. I didn't bother me there, but I'm not sure if it added anything to the reading experience.

I think it may, or may not work. It probably depends on how it is done. It is probably better to have it in small portions.


message 4: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Everson (authorthomaseverson) | 424 comments Is it prominent in The Andromeda Strain? I may have to take a look and see how it was addressed there.


message 5: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Since I prefer to read via e-reader, fonts will be uniform unless you decide to take the textbook conversion route and make a PDF style book. I've only read one author who does that (our own promo elf, CB) and it didn't bother me *too much* (he uses text boxes as you find in a video game). But if it was something where I'd have to keep track of what font belonged to what character, well, that might make me go cross-eyed.


message 6: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments In ebook, it wont matter, unless you publish it as an PDF. The font can be change by the users so they probably wouldn't notice.

In prints it's different. I could totally see letters being written differently, maybe to mimic the hand writing. That would be awesome. However, I am not sure i'd be ok with changing fonts too often. Maybe because of my bad eyesight. I'd have to see an example to see if it would be distracting.


message 7: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (last edited Oct 14, 2016 02:29PM) (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4277 comments Mod
I'm ignorant. I don't know many fonts by name and cannot identify many by sight. I will just say that I've never read a book that had a font that I found difficult. Size of letters matters as I get older, but font doesn't seem to be an issue.

99 percent of the time I write in Courier New just because I like the look of it, but I'm sure that's not what you're asking.


message 8: by P.D. (new)

P.D. Workman (pdworkman) I wouldn't use Juice.

Are you using Gabriola with swashes, or just plain? If with swashes, it is going to be very fatiguing to read if there is very much of it. So a short, three-line passage would be fine, but not a whole page. If just plain Gabriola, then it is still a serif font not that different than Garamond, just a little bit more casual, and I'm not sure using it would add anything more to the experience than just insetting Garamond text for letters. Can you post a jpg of what your page spread would look like?

As others have said, all of this applies to print only. Your ebook shouldn't have embedded fonts, and I really hate the ones that use a graphic to insert a letter with fancied up fonts. Reading them on my phone is never a good experience.


message 9: by Hákon (new)

Hákon Gunnarsson | 53 comments Thomas wrote: "Is it prominent in The Andromeda Strain? I may have to take a look and see how it was addressed there."

No, I don't think it is prominent. The stuff that is written with a different font is the information that the characters are getting from the computer, either as a print out or on the screen. So every time one sees that font one knows where it is coming from. Some chapters have more of it that others. It is an interesting touch. I think you should check it out if you are planing to use different fonts in your book.


message 10: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) I forgot that I actually *did* use different fonts in one of my print books, but it's not a particularly traditional story. There are sections that are emails and diaries. The emails are San Serif to mimic a basic mail client and the diary entries have a time stamp in a different font. There are also scraps that are meant to look like newsprint. But within the narrative itself I have no font changes.


message 11: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Everson (authorthomaseverson) | 424 comments Thanks all for your input.

@Christina and GG, good point on the e-reader font. I'm going to double check on that. I may have to upload as PDF to make sure readers are getting the experience I strive for. If it all shows up in one font it might actually confuse the reader.

@PD Just plain Gabriola. It shouldn't be hard to read, but I'm probably just going to change it to my standard Garamond.

@Hakon Thanks, I definitely will. I just need to find my way to a book store. Haha.


message 12: by P.D. (new)

P.D. Workman (pdworkman) Reading PDFs on an ebook reader is a horrendous experience. Don't do it.


message 13: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments A word of advice: If you do it in PDF, think about making your font bigger and your page smaller so people don't have to keep having to move the text around to read it. Of course on a small device as a phone for example, they will still need to do that but nothing ruins your reading experience as much as when you keep having to move the page around to read it.
It's easier to have it done right the first time than to have to re-upload a file later on...just a thought.


message 14: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) G.G. wrote: "A word of advice: If you do it in PDF, think about making your font bigger and your page smaller so people don't have to keep having to move the text around to read it. Of course on a small device ..."

Yep, what GG said. If you use a 6x9 template instead if standard letter and make your words 12-14 pt font they should work out to an average size. But, keep in mind there are other drawbacks. Certain kindle devices cannot read textbook conversions (which is how you would get a PDF). Also, you won't get an active table of contents and the user experience is limited.


message 15: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Sanderson | 19 comments Patrick Ness uses different fonts in the knife of never letting go to represent what is heard through telepathy. I thought it worked really well in that series. Probably it's a bit down to context and consistency.


Sam (Rescue Dog Mom, Writer, Hugger) (sammydogs) | 968 comments Hi Thomas,
If you're talking about Book 3 of your series, what G.G. and Christina stated about going with 6" x 9" format would look nice, and your first two books are that size already.
I wonder how my e-reader (Kindle App) would translate that, as I can change the text font and size.
Good luck! Hugs, Sue


message 17: by R. (new)

R. Billing (r_billing) | 228 comments The problem is that font changes may not survive translation onto some devices. The only thing I use is to change the indent, but the story will survive without that.


message 18: by Anthony Deeney (last edited Oct 16, 2016 03:33AM) (new)

Anthony Deeney | 437 comments Just my two cents (if my input is worth that much). I personally think the font is not the story! I would only change the font to help clarify the text (e.g. inner thought). Anything else is a distraction.


message 19: by John Hooker (last edited Oct 16, 2016 05:55AM) (new)

John Hooker | 90 comments P.D. Workman (Pamela) wrote: "Reading PDFs on an ebook reader is a horrendous experience. Don't do it."

Especially when it is in a small font; double-columns; and you had to to pay about $50 for it! (personal experience).


message 20: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Sue (Rescue Dog Mom) wrote: "Hi Thomas,
If you're talking about Book 3 of your series, what G.G. and Christina stated about going with 6" x 9" format would look nice, and your first two books are that size already.
I wonder ho..."


I was talking about the eBook file. Print you can do anything, but ebooks simplify books to make the reading experience as user friendly as possible. The only way to keep formatting is with a PDF and a specific conversion, but as others have said, I would advise against it because it will be limiting and you may lose readers who have an incompatible device.


Sam (Rescue Dog Mom, Writer, Hugger) (sammydogs) | 968 comments Whoops, my mistake, Christina. Got confused there. : /


message 22: by P.D. (new)

P.D. Workman (pdworkman) Look at it this way. PDF and ebooks are two ways to read your book digitally. But they are not created equal.

Think of PDF as print-equivalent. I have physical maps at work that are two feet tall and three feet wide. When I look at a PDF of those maps on a screen, I have two choices, I can either zoom in and no longer be able to see the context and have to pan and pan and pan to view the entire area. Or I can view the whole map and see the context but none of the detail. Those are my only two choices. And if I want to view one of those PDF maps on my phone, well...

An ebook is a web-equivalent. With a good, responsive website, it adjusts to whatever device you are reading it on. If you look at it on a tablet or phone, menus collapse and stack. Pictures are shrunk. Lines wrap. You can still have an immersive experience just by scrolling and tapping, with no need to pan back and forth, squint, turn it to landscape view, etc. The text adjusts to your device.

When you publish an ebook, you don't know whether it is going to be read on a big desktop screen or a tiny phone screen. You don't know which font the user is going to choose and whether the user is going to use a big font or a small one, whether they are going to view it black on white or white on black. And all of your formatting has to adjust to that reality. Your text always has to be reflowable, so that it no matter how many characters long the reader's line is, they still get the same immersive experience.

If I have to read a pdf book on my phone, the experience is crap. A rigid rectangle page shrunk down to three inches is unreadable. I can do my best, rotating the view to landscape so my lines are longer, zooming as much as I can to cut the margins off. And then panning back and forth as I read every line, which is very distracting and pulls me right out of the story. A PDF book cannot be read comfortably on a phone screen. And if you, the author, format it to be read on a phone screen, then it is going to look terrible, huge screaming letters, for the person who wants to read it on their desktop screen.

There is very little that you can do with your fonts in an ebook that will not detract from the user experience. Embedding font changes in anything other than a chapter heading or drop-cap is really not acceptable. The user picks his font and font size based on what the ebook program offers and what works best for him, and you shouldn't be touching it.

You can all-caps the first few words of your chapter.

You can indent all paragraphs other than the first paragraph of the scene.

You can use italics or bolding (non-fiction only) for emphasis or to set short passages of text apart.

You can inset a passage of text to emphasize or set it off (block quote). But not too much, and don't indent it more than three or four characters in.

You can insert a page break before or after a passage (or both).

You can insert a set of characters or a small graphic divider between texts.

But don't try to get cute. An ebook does not need to look like the print edition. An ebook should not be full of special effects and artistic touches. It should be plain-Jane, so that anyone can read it, on any device, without being distracted by formatting that doesn't work for their particular device.


message 23: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Sanderson | 19 comments Excellent advice Pamela!!


message 24: by Thomas (last edited Oct 17, 2016 12:26PM) (new)

Thomas Everson (authorthomaseverson) | 424 comments I double checked my e-book copy and the fonts exist in there and they're resizeable because I didn't upload as PDF the first time, so I won't be re-uploading as PDF. Thanks for the tips on not uploading PDF due to those types of complications.

I'm going to find a neutral beta reader and run the book by them with all the fonts in place and gauge their reaction.


message 25: by R. (new)

R. Billing (r_billing) | 228 comments Pamela, that is entirely correct, thanks.


message 26: by JOQuantaman (new)

JOQuantaman | 10 comments If you are using ms WORD for your source document, Cambria is the best font for online viewing. It is a clone of Times New Roman, except the characters are a tad further apart. The KDP convertor will preserve Cambria if you specifically cite the font. (Be sure your paragraph classes declare Cambria) For eBooks, use one font throughout if possible.


message 27: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Kuhn (kevinkuhn) | 20 comments I asked my publisher to print my entire novel in comic-sans. They freaked, it was fun. ;)


message 28: by Missy (new)

Missy Sheldrake (missysheldrake) | 252 comments Kevin wrote: "I asked my publisher to print my entire novel in comic-sans. They freaked, it was fun. ;)"

LOL!


message 29: by Nalini (new)

Nalini Warriar | 7 comments Kevin wrote: "I asked my publisher to print my entire novel in comic-sans. They freaked, it was fun. ;)"

Yep! Challenge them! Don't make it easy! LOL


message 30: by Nalini (new)

Nalini Warriar | 7 comments It is kind of odd don't you think that with all the Indie publishers/printers out there it'd be easy to find out which font to use without going into Vol 1 and 2!
For my first POD book, I chose what the formatting let me do and it came out as a large print version TNR 14! Now I stick to TNR 10 which prints out very well and keeps the page number reasonable. It cost me a bit but hey! live and learn, right?


message 31: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Everson (authorthomaseverson) | 424 comments Kevin wrote: "I asked my publisher to print my entire novel in comic-sans. They freaked, it was fun. ;)"

I bet they did!


message 32: by Zoltán (new)

Zoltán (witchhunter) | 267 comments Kevin wrote: "I asked my publisher to print my entire novel in comic-sans. They freaked, it was fun. ;)"

As long as it's not wingdings :P

My 2 pennies:

The print(like) vs e-book comparison was well elaborated above.

In print, my personal view and taste is:

I like special fonts at the following places:


Blurbs
First characters
Chapter starter quotes
Embeded mails, handwritings and alike (eg. cursive)
Embedded console output, text messages and alike (mono types)
Special inserts (like posters)


For the bulk of the text, I like to have the same font (normal, italic, bold considered the same).


Sam (Rescue Dog Mom, Writer, Hugger) (sammydogs) | 968 comments Kevin wrote: "I asked my publisher to print my entire novel in comic-sans. They freaked, it was fun. ;)"

LOL!! Just keeping them on their toes? : D


message 34: by C.B., Beach Body Moderator (new)

C.B. Archer | 1090 comments Mod
Oh my goodness yes!

I use different fonts. There, I admitted it. So many fonts do I use, it's not even funny! :D

I have different fonts for:
- Book Title on first page
- Series Name
- Chapter Numbers
- Chapter Titles
- Regular Text
- Upside Down Text that one time
- Stars
- Computer Displays
- Text Messages
- Mail Messages
- Certain Characters (sizing)
... I can't even think of them all, there is a lot. However, there was always a reason to do this.

However, as mentioned above, my novels are run through the Kindle Textbook Creator, so anyone reading will not be able to change their settings. This really preserves the final view the person gets, but removes a lot of function.

If you are going to get really fancy (like me) you are going to be stuck doing that, at least for now, and some devices will not be able to read your document (at least for now!). Normal fancy I think you can still do in an ebook, but you need to be careful, as settings are up for grabs, so people can change things, and it might make your Interobang an umlaut.

Saying that, in print books, you can do whatever you want, they are not going to have settings in them (for awhile).

If you are going to use a different font though, I think there needs to be a legitimate reason for it. Zoltán has a good list up there of some good times to use it.
I can add one more.
Telepathy (although this is usually in italics)

Finally, as I have some experience now with the Textbook Creator I can tell you what not to do if you are making it.
The 6"x9" size you often in print books, with the typical normal font size (10-12pt) will be impossible to read and annoying to deal with. Trust me, I made this mistake.

What isn't impossible to read is making it 4"x6", with the same font sizes. 12pt Garmond is what I am going with right now with that size and it 'feels' right. This is a nice size because it scales to 6"x9", for your covers and other projects.

If anyone needs any help with the Textbook Creator, you know who to ask!


message 35: by P.D. (new)

P.D. Workman (pdworkman) I would never have even considered Textbook Creator for a fiction book!

But now that I'm more aware of what it offers and does, I might use it for future (most likely non-fiction) projects.

It could be good for study guides, how-to books, a companion volume that uses things like tables and timelines extensively. I think we need a new thread to brainstorm things to do with Textbook Creator...


message 36: by C.B., Beach Body Moderator (new)

C.B. Archer | 1090 comments Mod
I can contribute a great deal to that thread!


message 37: by Sushant (new)

Sushant Devarachetty (pedni) | 2 comments To decide the font stack for digital editions, I consider the "font-share" statistics. Couple sources I have referred to are:
http://www.awayback.com/revised-font-...
http://www.ampsoft.net/webdesign-l/Wi...


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The Andromeda Strain (other topics)

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