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How to Select Fonts for Your eBook Cover

Aug 17, 2007
Choosing the right fonts is an important decision you will have to make when designing a quality ebook cover. You will want to choose a font that is readable and appropriate for your audience.

The following general information about fonts will help you to make the right choice:

Size: An ebook cover image is usually a rather small image. Therefore, you have to be sure that the font you use will be readable on the small image. A lot of fonts just don't work well at very small sizes.

Weight: The term "weight" refers to the thickness of the elements that make up each character in a font. Most fonts have a regular version and a bold version. The bold version has greater weight because the letters are thicker. A bolded font stands out more, even at smaller sizes. Some fonts also offer a "heavy" and a "black" version that is even thicker than the bold version. Arial black, Helvetica black, and Impact are just some examples of popular fonts that are used to create titles and headlines. These fonts also work well for ebook covers.

If you look at book or article titles, you will notice that they tend to be "heavier" and larger in size than any of the other text. This is because the author wants to emphasize the title/subtitle.

Serif vs. Sans Serif: Take a look at the letters in the Helvetica font and Times New Roman font. Helvetica is a sans serif font, while Times New Roman is a serif font. The difference is the extra flourish at the ends of each line in each character in a serif font. The term serif refers to these flourishes. Compare the letter "I" in both of the fonts mentioned above and you will easily see the difference.

Sans serif fonts tend to be more readable when used in titles, subtitles, captions and headlines. They also tend to be more readable at the smaller font sizes. Serif fonts, on the other hand work better where there is a large amount of text (a paragraph or more).

Appropriateness: It's important that you choose a font that is appropriate for your audience. For instance, if your book is targeted for women, choose a more feminine font. If your book's focus is children, then it would be appropriate to choose a font that conveys a sense of playfulness. However, regardless of age and gender, if your subject is serious then you would want a font that conveys a serious tone.

Keep in mind that there are no hard and fast rules in this area of font selection. What seems appropriate for a masculine subject in one situation may not be so in another situation. The point here is simply to pay attention to what message and feeling you're communicating with your selected font.

Here are some more font tips for ebook covers:

* Use one or two fonts. Never use more than three different fonts. Better yet, use different weights of the same font. For example, use Arial Black for the title and Arial Bold for the subtitle.

* Don't use too much text on your cover. It won't be readable anyway. The less text you use, the larger and more readable your text will be. You may want to consider using a shortened version of your actual book title for the cover image.

* Use the largest, boldest font for the book title, a smaller size for the subtitle, and even smaller sizes for author name and any additional text.

* Use text colors that contrast with your background to make your title stand out. However, make sure that the color of your text does not clash with the background color. Depending on your background colors, red, white and yellow often work well.

* You can bold, italicize, or underline words and phrases for emphasis. Use italics and underline sparingly. If overdone, you'll loose the affect and reduce the readability.

* You can make your text stand out with special type effects such as drop shadows and outlines, but use these effects sparingly.

* Use capitals only for short headings. Sentences or paragraphs in all capitals letters are hard to read. For longer headings, use upper/lower case.

* Consider placing the author's name and the web site URL as a watermark on the cover graphic to make it harder for people to steal your images.

* Put your book title on the spine of large book and box images.

There are literally thousands of fonts to choose from. Build a small collection of fonts that work well for ebook cover design. This collection will probably include the standards like Impact, Arial Black, Arial Bold, Helvetica Black, Helvetica Bold, Times New Roman, Garamond and other fonts you like that are readable and practical in smaller sizes.

Like just about all rules, most font rules can be broken. The bottom line is, if your prospects can not read your book title, or if your ebook cover conveys a message that is not appropriate to your subject, then your choice of font can result in a loss of sales (or free downloads).
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