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What font or type faces should I use on my book cover?

The font face choice is where so many book covers are let down. You may have a lot of experience with Photoshop or Gimp, and your image might beat the pants of other book cover images but the wrong choice can make your cover turn from professional to amateur in a swift punch. You might have read my past article about what images to put on your cover, and if you decide to stick with typography so this is the next natural step in the process of design.

Type is just as important as the imagery.  

Don’t underestimate the impact of the right type face. And you know what? Not even I get it right every time. Type is tricky and you have to have patience, play with it, experiment.

Follow through and put as much time in to your font choices and placement as you do with your design.

Guidelines for using type and fonts:

  • Do not stretch your font face. If you want a tall font face, find a condensed font. If you want a stretched font face, find a wide font. These fonts are made for this look, and if you stretch a font you will make it a) pixelated and b) distorted and c) horrible.
  • Play with different weights of a font. Font faces often come in more than just bold and italic. Weights of a font face means it could be thin and light all the way down to heavy and bold.
  • Choosing the right font for your book cover has just as much to do with the font face as it does with placement and application. Consider where your putting your title and your author, and if you don’t know where it should go then use other covers in your genre as an example. Learn by example, draw on inspiration by the books on your bookshelf.


    So what fonts should I use on my cover?

    These are the basics. They’re not display fonts, or distorted decorative fonts.  These are font faces I am suggesting through professional experience and you can rest back on as a classic choice, and these fonts- if overused- will definitely gain a ‘Papyrus’ curse. So in the future this advice might not bode well. But design is just like fashion; Crocs were cool one time, so was Comic Sans.

     BY GENRE

    Font faces that can be used on any genre (also mostly applicable for non-fiction):

    Futura

    Trajan Pro

    ITC New Baskerville

    Adobe Garamond

    DIN

     

     

    Akzidenz Grotesk

     

     

    Bodoni

     

     

    Frutiger

     

    Gill Sans

     

    Avenir


    Examples of fonts and typefaces on a book cover:

    The following three categories are chosen because there’s a good chance your genre is connected to one of these, or is close:

     

    Romance and Chick-Lit:

    Edwardian

    Scriptina

    Chopin

    Bodoni

    Garamond

    Zapfino

     

    Examples of fonts and typefaces on romance and chick-lit book covers:



     Thriller/Sci Fi/Mystery/Crime:

    Futura

    Century Gothic

    DIN

     

    Akzidenz Grotesk

     

    Univers

     

    Metro

     

    Rockwell


    Examples of fonts on thriller, sci fi, and crime book covers:


    Historical/Literary:

    Garamond

     

    Baskerville

    Trajan

     

    Avant Garde

     

    Didot

     

    Examples of fonts on historical and literary book covers:


    Remember- these are the fonts I recommend for your book cover, not the interior. The interior will come in a later blog post.

    As always I recommend: learn by example. Look at other books, and not just one or two. Look at twenty or thirty. The more influence you receive the more you have to work with.

    What font faces do you recommend for a book cover? Have you seen some really great, or really bad, choices?

About Scarlett Rugers

Scarlett Rugers is an award winning book cover designer from Melbourne, Australia. She loves design and literature, and is a huge fan of film and food. She can be found at her website Books@scarlettrugers.com. She's also over at Google+ and Twitter, so feel free to come by and chat with her!

2 Comments

  1. Scarlett, great post. It appears most of the font selections you have are from premium font forges. How about updating the post with available free font choices that fit too? Links to the sources could help like Adobe on the premium side and the free side for fontsquirrel, google web fonts, etc.

  2. Carlos

    Thank you Scarlett,

    This is very useful!

    Carlos

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