Typography affects the appearance and readability
of your book.

Typography is the art and science of the design, selection, and arrangement of type. It involves typefaces, point size, line length, leading (line spacing), letter spacing (tracking) and kerning.

Typography: Typefaces

Your choice of typefaces (fonts) affects the appearance and readability of your book. Fonts can also increase or decrease the size of your book; thereby affecting the cost to print your book.

There are two major classifications of type: serif and sans serif. Serif type has been found more readable and therefore, is more suitable for the main body text. Sans serif is more legible, and is therefore, more suited to headings.

The little extensions on the ends of the strokes of type are what distinguish serif type from sans serif type.

M (serif) M (sans serif)

Usually, the main body text is serif type, and the headlines are sans serif type. While that is the most common usage, it is not mandatory. The main body text should always use a serif typeface; however, the headings can be either serif or sans serif.

What you cannot do, is have two serif fonts on the same page, or two sans serif fonts on the same page. It follows then, that if you do not want to use a sans serif font for headings, you have to use the main body text font for headings also. It is acceptable to do so.

When it comes to choosing fonts, it is best, for both legal and practical reasons, to go with the fonts that come with MS Word or your operating system. The default typeface is Times New Roman with Word for Windows 2003. It is a condensed font designed for newspaper columns. It is a very readable font; however, there are better fonts for your main body text.

Word for Windows 2007 uses a sans serif font, Calibri, for its default font. Word 2007 seems to be set up for writing for the web. I don't know why, since most writing still gets printed.

Some suggestions are: Baskerville, Book Antigua, Century Schoolbook, Garamond, or Georgia. Some fonts to consider for headings are Arial, Helvetica, and Verdana. There are many good books on typography, if you want to expand your choices.

Typography: Type Faces for Body Text

The best way to choose a font is to print several copies of the same paragraph in different fonts. Be sure to print them, as they look different on paper than they do on screen.


Baskerville is a serif typeface designed by John Baskerville in 1757. It is classified as a transitional typeface, positioned between the old style and the modern style typefaces. The Baskerville typeface is the result of John Baskerville's intent to improve upon the types of William Caslon.

He increased the contrast between thick and thin strokes, making the serifs sharper and more tapered, and shifted the axis of rounded letters to a more vertical position. The curved strokes are more circular in shape, and the characters became more regular.

These changes created a greater consistency in size and form. The refined feeling of the typeface makes it an excellent choice to convey dignity and tradition.

Book Antigua

Book Antigua is a highly readable font similar to Palatino. Both Book Antigua and Palatino are great typefaces for long documents.

Century Schoolbook

Century Schoolbook is a modern serif typeface designed by Morris Benton in 1919. Century Schoolbook is based on the earlier Century Expanded typefaces begun by Morris Benton's father. Century Schoolbook is familiar to many in North America as being the typeface many first learned to read with.

Benton used research that showed young readers more quickly identified letterforms with contrasting weight, but with the lighter strokes maintaining presence. In designing Century Schoolbook, Benton increased the x-height, the stroke width, and overall letter spacing. Century Schoolbook is an attractive and easy to read typeface.


Garamond is an old style typeface (1540s) designed by Claude Garamond. Garamond had likely seen Venetian old style types from the printing shops of Aldus Manutius. Garamond based much of the design of his lowercase letters on the handwriting of Angelo Vergecio, librarian to Francis I. There are many digital versions, some with increased x-heights making them easy to read.


Georgia is a transitional serif typeface designed in 1993 by Mathew Carter for the Microsoft Corporation, as the serif companion to the Microsoft sans serif screen font, Verdana. The initial version of the font was released as part of the Core Fonts for the Web collection.

The Georgia typeface shares many similarities with Times New Roman. It is designed for clarity on a computer monitor even at small sizes, partially due to a relatively large x-height. It is a highly readable typeface. The Georgia typeface name is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation.

Typography: Type Faces for Headings


Arial, sometimes marketed as Arial MT, is a sans-serif typeface and computer font designed in 1982 by Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders. Arial is also a typeface family comprising of standard Arial (Arial Std) and variants, including Arial Black, Bold, Extra Bold, Condensed, Italic, Light, Medium, Monospaced, Narrow, and Rounded.

Arial is a contemporary sans serif design. The treatment of curves is softer and fuller than in most industrial style sans serif faces. Terminal strokes are cut on the diagonal which helps to give the face a less mechanical appearance. Arial is similar to Linotype Helvetica. It is an extremely versatile family of typefaces.


Helvetica is the name of a widely used sans serif typeface developed in 1957 by Swiss typeface designer Max Miedinger with Eduard Hoffmann. The aim of the new design was to create a neutral typeface that had great clarity, had no intrinsic meaning in its form and could be used on a wide variety of signage.

In 1960, the typeface's name was changed to Helvetica, which was derived from Confoederatio Helvetica, the Latin name for Switzerland in order to make it more marketable internationally.


Verdana is a sans-serif typeface designed by Matthew Carter for Microsoft Corporation in 1996. Verdana was designed to be readable at small sizes on a computer screen. The lack of serifs, large x-height, wide proportions, loose letter-spacing, large counters, and emphasized distinctions between similarly-shaped characters are chosen to increase legibility.

Typography: Type Size

The next decision is to choose the size of your type. Type size is measured in points with 72 points equaling one inch. Considering the trim sizes offered by CreateSpace, the size should probably be between 11 and 13 points. If you are writing for children or seniors, you may want to try a larger font.

When you have chosen the font for your main body text, print copies of the same paragraph in different font sizes to help you select the size that looks the most natural. Be sure to include the half point sizes, and, as before, be sure to look at them on paper. Repeat this experiment after you have selected your line spacing.

Typography: Line Spacing

It is a common practice to expand the line spacing slightly to improve readability of the main body text; although it is not always necessary. Line spacing is influenced by sentence length and x-height.

Longer sentences need more line space between them. X-height refers to the height of lower case vowels and consonants that don’t have ascenders compared to the height of letters that extend to the height of the typeface. Typefaces with high x-height look significantly larger than the same size typeface with a lower x-height.

Typefaces with a high x-height make sentences look closer together; and therefore may need additional line space. For main body text, an increase of 2 to 4 points should be sufficient. Do not use 1.5 line spacing.

It is just the opposite with headings. If any of your headings run two or more lines, line spacing should be reduced to improve appearance and readability.

For my book, The Misadventures of Russell Quigley, I chose 12 point Book Antiqua for the main body text and 14 point line spacing. Title and headings are Arial.

Following appropriate typesetting conventions can mean the difference between a professional and an amateurish presentation.

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