Fonts and formatting
When asked to write on this topic, I thought, What am I going to say that is new and enlightening? Another “reinventing the wheel” moment was creeping up on me and I seriously considered deferring the topic for a later date.
Glad I didn’t.
After some research, mostly on the trusty internet, I discovered some gems of information that I never knew before or had forgotten. Or is it a case of changing trends?
I first published, indie-style, back in 2015 through CreateSpace. After diligently doing my research on formatting and fonts for producing a hopefully professional quality print book, and then following the advice given on CreateSpace, I converted my Word document to PDF and uploaded it to the scrutiny of CreateSpace. After a week of uploading several more corrected copies of my book, getting the margins, formatting right and ridding the document of that mysterious phenomena, embedded text, finally “they” were happy and congratulated me on successfully publishing my book.
Ah, those were the days.
Since then, CreateSpace has been taken over by Amazon. Which is fine. Amazon also has plenty of advice and a step-by-step process to make the whole ordeal of uploading one’s precious work for publishing a pleasant experience.
So, asked to do fonts and formatting and I thought, Simple; for formatting, use template provided by Amazon, or whoever one chooses to go with to print one’s books, and select a popular and familiar font that is reader-easy. How hard is that?
When I began the research, I began to understand why. In the eight years since I published The Hitch-hiker and Mission of the Unwilling, changes in how to present one’s body of work had crept in.
So, thus enlightened, here are…
10 new, and maybe not so new, facts I have learnt about fonts and formatting:
- The body text of your print book should be in a serif font. A serif font has little flourishes or links at the base of the character that make the words easier to read. New Times Roman is an example of a Serif font.
- Headings or captions—San Serif, “san” meaning “without”. So without the little bits at the bottom of the letter that make the words easier to read in a body of text. But they make good headings or captions. Calibri is an example of a San Serif font.
- Some fonts are under licence, and you have to pay for that license if your book is going to print. Even some fonts offered by Microsoft Word were not exempt from having to pay the price of print. And here I’d been using my favourite font with abandon. A font that was recommended by CreateSpace back in 2015. On further investigation about fonts offered by Microsoft word, I found Microsoft’s explanation for the use of fonts. In the Microsoft Website it states:
Fonts that come with Publisher do not have license restrictions, which means they can be embedded in your publication and printed anywhere. Fonts that do not come with Publisher, however, might be restricted.
Well, that’s good to know. After all, we pay a yearly subscription for Microsoft Office, so there should be some benefits.
4. Popular font “Garamond” has been around since the 16th Century and was invented by Claude Garamond who was a Parisian engraver.
5. Avoid downloading free fonts. You might end up downloading a virus.
6. Your font is recommended to be 12pt in size. Well, that’s news to me. Way back in 2015, the recommended size of font was 11pt. Are readers’ eyes needing a larger font?
7. Line spacing is recommended now to be 1.5 spacing. I must confess that a little more space between the lines is easier on the eye. Now, with my novella, The Hitch-hiker, I formatted with double spacing and I felt that the book looked like it was aimed at junior high school level. However, with my other books, I had the normal 1 space to minimise the number of pages. More pages in a book, more the book costs.
8. A popular print book size is 15cm wide x 23cm tall. That’s with the book closed. When put into print form on the page, the spread of the two pages side by side is 30cm across. However, there are options for variation. Your professional printer or publishing platform should provide you with the options. For breathing space, set your margins to 2.5cm on all sides. I remember reading a very popular fantasy book bought from a well-known bookstore. The margins in that book were too narrow. After reading for hours, I suffered cramp in my thumb after pressing the spine to hold the book open to read this very thick book. So, be kind to your readers and don’t give them thick-book-narrow-margin thumb. Again, your printer/publishing platform should have parameters for you to follow. They might even provide a template into which you can copy and paste the body of your text.
9. For fiction writing, indent paragraphs by 1cm. For non-fiction, paragraphs can be divided by one line space. Check other books in your genre to see what the formatting conventions are and follow suit.
10. Don’t forget to insert page numbers. No need to number the title page, though. Odd numbers are on the right hand page, and even numbers on the left.
What do you know, once I get started, I virtually can keep on going. However, there’s plenty of information offered on the internet, or in books on the subject. Below I have listed references I have found useful to help you on your way to publishing your book/s.
Wishing you all the best as you tackle this next stage in indie publishing.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2023
Feature Photo: an example of my MAG newsletter editing © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2023
- The Write Life—How to format a book
- Selfpublishing.com—Book Formatting
- Reedsyblog— 10 Brilliant Fonts for Your Book Layout
- IngramSpark—The Best Fonts for Books
- Creativindie—8 Amazing Fonts