Typography & Formatting

November 15, 2019

Picking the Perfect Typeface Part 4

Tone & Personality

If you have a scale where dramatic and serious is on one side and humorous and light is on the other, where does your book fall. As long as it’s not smack dab in the center (which is probably isn’t), it will favor one side more than the other. Is it serious with a little bit of humor? Or is the reader chuckling through most of the book. Maybe you have a serious theme, but a light-hearted tone? Perhaps, your themes are mundane, but the tone is deep? Decide where your books fall. Dramatic/Serious or Humorous/Light.


Light Hearted

Typefaces have a personality, even if it’s not having a personality at all. This is where we get to the nuances the difference between a good typeface for a book and a great typeface. More often than not, designers will bring out the personality of a book in the chapter displays and other elements on a page and rely on a tried and true typeface. But, even relying on an old standard still requires some consideration of personality. If the designer of the Harry Potter books in the US used Baskerville instead of Garamond, the books would have  different feel to them.

Taking our list of all the typefaces good for fiction, I added some personality traits to them. 

  • Baskerville – Intelligent, wise, traditional, conventional, trustworthy, credible, authority, experienced, literary
  • Garamond – Classy, elegant, professional, harmonious, respectable, relaxed, mature, timeless, admired, masterpiece
  • Fournier – Light, even, elegant, modern, clean, refined, discreet, understated
  • Janson – Crisp, respected, high-end, baroque, serious, serene, reassuring, fidelity, severe, conservative, traditional
  • Dante – Lively, handsome, baroque, stately, romantic, strong, powerful, masculine
  • Minion – Neutral, simple, moderate, subtle, invisible, comfortable, reliable
  • Sabon – Romantic, classy, elegant, flowing, feminine, beautiful, beloved, soft, curvy
  • Bembo – Stylish, classical, playful, warm, comfortable, salacious, fun
  • Electra – Ideal, snappy, modern, personable, energetic, lively, active, warm

Yes, a lot of the typefaces share characteristics with each other and more than one would be great for a book, but chances are, there’s at least one typeface that stands out more than the rest. From the samples, select those that closely align with the personality of your book, of the style of your writing, and what you hope the reader takes from the words.

In the next part, you can see if any of the typefaces you chose works with your genre. If they don’t fit, don’t worry. Stick with the typeface you chose based on personality and tone. Choose a typeface by genre is a short cut, but won’t always get you too the best destination.

Go on to Genre

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