60 fonts you should never use on your book cover design

All rules are meant to be broken, and I won’t swear that I never use these fonts (I even included some in my genre-based lists of fonts you CAN use). But you can only break the rules if you learn them first. If you’re not a designer, steering clear of these overused (and gag-worthy) fonts is the safer bet. I was going to include some alternatives I like, but they’ll probably become overused too. If you like one of these fonts, look for an alternative that is similar, but less common.

Other rules: Use fonts that fit the genre, but aren’t so flashy or decorative that everyone recognizes them immediately.

Don’t add bevel

Don’t add an obvious dropshadow (show pics)

Don’t use same (fancy) font for the author name

Contrast serif and sans serif fonts (make checklist PDF to download, add to list.)

Make the text stand out with natural contrast against the background.

It doesn’t need to POP or STAND OUT nearly as much as you think it does. Let it be a part of the picture.

If you want to drastically improve the standard of self-published book covers, please share this post.




For best free and paid fonts for interior book formatting, check this list.

Download this book cover checklist and make sure you aren’t making other critical mistakes with your cover.

About Derek Murphy

Hey there! I'm a philosophy dropout and book cover designer with a PhD in Literature. After spending a decade as a starving artist, I vowed to create the life of freedom my restless spirit demands. I covet a cabin full of cats, where I can write young adult fantasy novels and do a few editorial critiques to pay for my cake addiction. Sometimes I live in castles. FREE GUIDE: Book Marketing is Dead.


  1. That’s funny, I know a fellow who uses Cooper on all his covers, and currently he’s a full-time author supporting his family of five on book sale royalties alone.

  2. Basically, don’t use any pre-installed fonts from Microsoft Office (and then some…)

  3. Oy, papyrus, that’s a cringe worthy list. Did you mean to list same thing twice? Missing link for which fonts to use, and book cover checklist.

  4. Derek, did you mean to share links for “best free and paid fonts for interior book formatting, check this list.”

    And “Bonus, download a book cover checklist and make sure you aren’t making other critical mistakes with your cover.”

  5. Lawrence Ambrose

    Really? Why? Some of those fonts have been used on bestsellers (e.g., Trajan for John Grisham). They’re not all Microsoft (it doesn’t have IMPACT or ELEPHANT, for example – at least mine doesn’t). One of my favorite font designs is on the cover of a book you might know – PRESCIENCE. That is a fucking good title font, if you’ll excuse my Latin. 🙂

  6. Oof, major cringing right now. I’m currently using Harrington on my fantasy book cover (thankfully it’s not been published yet!). What would you suggest, instead?

  7. I mean I understand most of these, but I used Trajan for my temporary logo, and I think it looks rather nice. (It’s temporary at least though. I’m gonna pay someone to help me with the final one)

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