Typography & Formatting

November 15, 2019

Picking the Perfect Typeface Part 5

Genre

Let’s look at genre and how that can play a role in choosing a great typeface. For instance, Sabon is perfect for Romances, regardless of the type of Romance. Dante is ideal for Paranormal and Urban Fantasy books. Janson shines in Science Fiction and Electra is great for actions and adventures. Part of that is because some genres have appropriated typefaces and they now fit with reader expectations. If a typeface is used for several books in a genre, readers will recognize the typeface on the page even if they can’t identify it.

This list isn’t inclusive, but your book will fall into one of these categories. This isn’t the time to convince me that your book is the perfect combination of all the genres and therefore can’t be classified using the mere categories provided. This isn’t about you. This is about how the reader perceives the book.

  • General Fiction – Garamond, Baskerville, Minion, Electra, Bembo, Janson
  • Action/AdventureElectra, Janson, Bembo
  • Romance – Sabon, Dante, Electra
  • Fantasy – Fournier, Garamond, Bembo
  • Science Fiction – Garamond, Dante, Janson
  • Thriller Suspense – Dante, Janson, Baskerville
  • Young Adult – Garamond, Minion, Electra
  • Middle Grade – Garamond

When all else fails, and you don’t know what to do, you can safely use Garamond for almost every book. It will be a rare day when Garamond is a bad option. It might not be a great option or the best option, but it will always be good. Immediately behind Garamond are Minion and Electra. Minion is a neutral typeface so it will work well with all projects, but it is rather unexciting. Electra is also a typeface that leans toward neutral, but it has more character and Garamond might work better than Electra for some projects. Ultimately, any of those three typefaces can be used for any genre without cause for concern.

Bonus typeface for a special genre

  • Pulp – Caledonia

Caledonia is a typeface that is rarely used in trade paperbacks and in horribly underrated and underused. However, when pulp fiction was at its heyday, Caledonia was the goto typeface.

I am mentioning it here because under the right circumstances it’s a perfect typeface. It works for a lot of books, but is especially strong when set in a book that embraces the concept of pulp fiction. Indie publishers might not be able to mimic the cost of pulp books or the look and feel of a pulp book, but it’s possible to emulate how the words from a pulp paperback look on a page.

This isn’t a recommendation as much as a challenge to indie publishers who recognize their books might fall under pulp fiction and want to honor those books.

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