shutterstock_206975728While it was tempting to make this article a two-worder that read Comic Sans (and if you don’t get that reference, you can kindly leave), I’ll restrain myself.

As with any piece of design, book cover art has two main facets – the imagery and the text. Both are absolutely key to a successful design. A well-chosen font can convey the mood of the book, whether upbeat and comical, or moody and intense.

The wrong choice can have a massive impact on a book’s sales. The fact is that a potential reader doesn’t have to have a design degree to be put off by the wrong font. The feeling when browsing through covers and spotting an out of place font can range from disregard to disgust, and even the most aesthetically backward of shoppers are still capable of this sort of gut feel.

As such, it is vital that you carefully work through your font options, and land on one that you are comfortable with and that isn’t Comic Sans.

To Serif or to San the Serif

Do you want to give your font a kick? The wonderful world of fonts can be conveniently split into two distinct groups. Serif and San Serif. The difference between the two lies at the ends of each character they produce.

In serif fonts, such as Times New Roman, Georgia and Garamond, you’ll find little ‘kicks’ on the end of each character, such as the feet at the bottom of an I or T. A practice that started as far back as Roman times – one theory is that it helped neaten the ends of lines that were chiselled into stone – serif is used in more traditional and larger word count publications (novels, newspapers) and can create an official air, or a sense of formality.

San serif fonts, on the other hand, are the more contemporary kids on the block. Favoured by the internet and for anything that requires a bit more punch, san serif provides a cleaner look, and can often be more legible than serif.

When it comes to book covers though, traditional uses matter not. What does matter is what works well in your specific situation, and both types can be used as an elegant solution to different design problems.

Novelty Fonts

It’s tempting, I know. How awesome was that James Bond movie poster that turned ‘007’ into a gun? Extremely. It was extremely awesome.

And it’s not like you’re short of options. There are thousands of these novelty suckers out there. From blood splatter fonts to karma sutra fonts, it seems there is nothing that people with far too much time on their hands aren’t able to turn into letters and numbers.

I sincerely tip my hat.

BUT – and, like J-Lo, this but is big – there are only very certain situations where a novelty font would be an appropriate choice for your cover.

A novelty font can override the message you’re trying to send with your front cover imagery. It will be a loud, attention grabbing choice, and may destabilise that magic equilibrium of the perfect text and picture combination.

Font choice, more often than not, is about minimalism. If you do have a novelty font that you feel is just perfect for your cover, be sure to chat to your designer about it. Just don’t be disappointed if you hear some dissent.

Licence and Registration, Please

The internet, as with everything, is a gold mine for finding fonts. How did they go about it back in the day? I don’t even know.

There are a multitude of free font sites that offer up thousands of fonts, and scrolling through to find yourself the perfect style couldn’t be easier.

The word ‘free’ often has an asterisk though. These fonts may well be free for personal use, but when it comes to commercial use, i.e. your book cover, the licence may require you to pay a fee. If the site is a legitimate one, the licencing agreement should be easily accessible when browsing the fonts.

If you use a designer there’s no need to fret – we keep all the licences for the fonts we use on hand!

War-Torn_4 Robot7 Small Sinarth-ebook SantaB2 SmallA Knockout Combination

You’ll notice when browsing covers that there are often two different fonts used in a design – one for the title and another for the author’s name. If your design demands the use of two different fonts, you’ll need to choose a pair that are not only complimentary, but that fit in with the overall cover design seamlessly.

For a non-professional, that can be a big ask. About as big an ask as trying to get a chump like me to write a 500 page bestseller. But before you assume the foetal position on those cold bathroom tiles, there are a couple of simple rules of thumb that may help in your choice.

Try not to use two serif fonts in the same design. They tend to clash and not work well with one another. Like having psychopathic twins (sort of?).

If you choose two fonts, try not to make them too similar. Joe Blow on Amazon may not identify them as different, but their small variations can be disconcerting to him.

There Are Always Professionals Ready to Help

It’s a complicated business, this font choice. And it’s just one aspect of the greater book cover design problem. But just as you’d contact a professional snake handler for the problem of finding yet another snake in your dishwasher, so too can you call in a professional to assist you with you cover design issue.

I know. Another snake handler/cover designer comparison. Where will the similarities end?

Book cover designers have access to giant libraries of fonts, and have keen eyes for what works in a design. Not only that, they have experience as to what will get a book flying off the shelves.

But if you’re committed to home-handymanning your next cover, choose a few fonts, get your book into a dressing room, and try a few on. You’ll soon figure out what feels right and what doesn’t.

And no, no matter the situation, Comic Sans does not feel right.

While it was tempting to make this article a two-worder that read Comic Sans (and if you don’t get that reference, you can kindly leave), I’ll restrain myself.

As with any piece of design, book cover art has two main facets – the imagery and the text. Both are absolutely key to a successful design. A well-chosen font can convey the mood of the book, whether upbeat and comical, or moody and intense.

The wrong choice can have a massive impact on a book’s sales. The fact is that a potential reader doesn’t have to have a design degree to be put off by the wrong font. The feeling when browsing through covers and spotting an out of place font can range from disregard to disgust, and even the most aesthetically backward of shoppers are still capable of this sort of gut feel.

As such, it is vital that you carefully work through your font options, and land on one that you are comfortable with and that isn’t Comic Sans.

To Serif or to San the Serif

Do you want to give your font a kick? The wonderful world of fonts can be conveniently split into two distinct groups. Serif and San Serif. The difference between the two lies at the ends of each character they produce.

In serif fonts, such as Times New Roman, Georgia and Garamond, you’ll find little ‘kicks’ on the end of each character, such as the feet at the bottom of an I or T. A practice that started as far back as Roman times – one theory is that it helped neaten the ends of lines that were chiselled into stone – serif is used in more traditional and larger word count publications (novels, newspapers) and can create an official air, or a sense of formality.

San serif fonts, on the other hand, are the more contemporary kids on the block. Favoured by the internet and for anything that requires a bit more punch, san serif provides a cleaner look, and can often be more legible than serif.

When it comes to book covers though, traditional uses matter not. What does matter is what works well in your specific situation, and both types can be used as an elegant solution to different design problems.

Novelty Fonts

It’s tempting, I know. How awesome was that James Bond movie poster that turned ‘007’ into a gun? Extremely. It was extremely awesome.

And it’s not like you’re short of options. There are thousands of these novelty suckers out there. From blood splatter fonts to karma sutra fonts, it seems there is nothing that people with far too much time on their hands aren’t able to turn into letters and numbers.

I sincerely tip my hat.

BUT – and, like J-Lo, this but is big – there are only very certain situations where a novelty font would be an appropriate choice for your cover.

A novelty font can override the message you’re trying to send with your front cover imagery. It will be a loud, attention grabbing choice, and may destabilise that magic equilibrium of the perfect text and picture combination.

Font choice, more often than not, is about minimalism. If you do have a novelty font that you feel is just perfect for your cover, be sure to chat to your designer about it. Just don’t be disappointed if you hear some dissent.

Licence and Registration, Please

The internet, as with everything, is a gold mine for finding fonts. How did they go about it back in the day? I don’t even know.

There are a multitude of free font sites that offer up thousands of fonts, and scrolling through to find yourself the perfect style couldn’t be easier.

The word ‘free’ often has an asterisk though. These fonts may well be free for personal use, but when it comes to commercial use, i.e. your book cover, the licence may require you to pay a fee. If the site is a legitimate one, the licencing agreement should be easily accessible when browsing the fonts.

If you use a designer there’s no need to fret – we keep all the licences for the fonts we use on hand!

A Knockout Combination

You’ll notice when browsing covers that there are often two different fonts used in a design – one for the title and another for the author’s name. If your design demands the use of two different fonts, you’ll need to choose a pair that are not only complimentary, but that fit in with the overall cover design seamlessly.

For a non-professional, that can be a big ask. About as big an ask as trying to get a chump like me to write a 500 page bestseller. But before you assume the foetal position on those cold bathroom tiles, there are a couple of simple rules of thumb that may help in your choice.

Try not to use two serif fonts in the same design. They tend to clash and not work well with one another. Like having psychopathic twins (sort of?).

If you choose two fonts, try not to make them too similar. Joe Blow on Amazon may not identify them as different, but their small variations can be disconcerting to him.

There Are Always Professionals Ready to Help

It’s a complicated business, this font choice. And it’s just one aspect of the greater book cover design problem. But just as you’d contact a professional snake handler for the problem of finding yet another snake in your dishwasher, so too can you call in a professional to assist you with you cover design issue.

I know. Another snake handler/cover designer comparison. Where will the similarities end?

Book cover designers have access to giant libraries of fonts, and have keen eyes for what works in a design. Not only that, they have experience as to what will get a book flying off the shelves.

But if you’re committed to home-handymanning your next cover, choose a few fonts, get your book into a dressing room, and try a few on. You’ll soon figure out what feels right and what doesn’t.

And no, no matter the situation, Comic Sans does not feel right.

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