If you were formatting a book – just the inside – you’d have to choose a strong, perfect body font for the main paragraphs and a complimentary and interesting font for titles, subtitles and chapter headings.
Except you don’t really need to do that, because (I assume) you’ve already put together an amazing cover design, and your cover design (I hope) already uses a perfect, brilliant font that suits the genre for the main title.
Which means – when you begin formatting your interior layout, you don’t really have to make any difficult choices.
All you need to know about book layouts…
The main mistakes I see on homemade, DIY or cheap/amateur book layout are:
1. Not enough space between lines and between elements like the headers, footer, page edges, and titles.
2. Really boring headers/chapter designs
3. TOO much decoration or strange fonts that don’t agree with the cover design.
Luckily, there are a handful of very good, very strong body fonts that are tried-and-true. You don’t want your body to be distinctive or stand out. You want it to look just like any other book in the bookstore. You want the text to be clean and readable. You want it to be invisible… so that people can get into your story.
Here are a few samples I just made up.
Note: I’m not suggesting you use these header fonts – the chapter heading fonts will depend on your book cover, but any of these body fonts are very good, very safe options.
Note 2: My design style is a little flashy. Generally first pages of chapters don’t have headers or footers (nor page numbers), and the first paragraph has no indent. Some books have a page number on the center/bottom of chapter pages, and on the header of normal pages.
A dropcap on the first line is not absolutely necessary. All caps on the first six words or so is pretty common as well. I didn’t add any special graphics in these, which I would normally probably do, because this post is about the text and font combinations.
Don’t try to do too much on the chapter page… too many flashy elements is distracting. Pair an interesting, expressive font with a very basic sans-serif (sans-serif fonts make good chapter headings because they contrast with the body text, which should almost always be serif. Don’t use two really artistic fonts. Use one only.
The body fonts on these range from 11 to 14, spacing is about 18 to 20 on most.
1. Adobe Caslon Pro (body)
Big Top (Chapter), “Aaargh” (Subtitle)
2. Bembo (body)
3. ITC Baskerville (body)
4. Minion Pro (body)
5. Garamond Premier Pro (body)
6. Sabon (body)
Sabon (body, example 2)
7. Dante MT (body)
Amor Sans (Chapter), Bickham Script (Dropcap)
8. Franklin Gothic Medium (body)
Note: You don’t usually want to use a sans-serif for body text like #8… but in some genres – mostly children or YA, it might be OK.
You probably noticed almost all the examples look pretty much the same. Any of them are good choices.
The first paragraph should start about halfway down the page. Leave lots of open space on the top half.
Need some free body fonts?
The ones I mentioned up above are premium fonts, but you can also try these free, almost as good alternatives. I have a list of 27 free fonts to use in your book formatting HERE.
Of course there are other lovely fonts to choose from. But your book formatting is not a place to do a lot of experimenting or risk-taking. Some fonts have just a tad more character that may align more closely with a specific book… but unless you’re a designer – and even then! – you should probably go with one of these to be safe.
Best book formatting software
You can format a book in microsoft word (I have templates for that), but it can be a pain. There are better tools, built just for formatting, that make everything easier. You may not have as much freedom with font choices, but it’s worth it to get it finished and looking professional without all the hassle.
Vellum is the absolute best; it’s a mac program but you can run it on mac-in-cloud.
Atticus is one alternative.
DIYformats.com has some word templates for different genres so you can just add your text.
Best fantasy fonts for book design
Here’s a list of fantasy fonts. It’s important not to get carried away; the best book design is clean and simple, and your interior formatting should match your book cover design. Some of these are premium (paid) fonts, and there are about 5 you’ll see *everywhere* on fantasy or urban fantasy covers, because they’re the best. Don’t get too creative.
More fantasy fonts for formatting
Here’s something quick I made up recently; these are some of the free fonts I built into my online cover maker tool. I’ll be building book cover templates with them. They may be too fancy for formatting; don’t go crazy with fun fonts. In general, the younger the reader (MG/YA) the bigger or bolder the design. Most adult fiction will be clean and simple. You can do it youself, but seriously – I use Vellum all the time now even though I *could* format in ms Word, I’d just rather not. Even if doing it with macincloud is kind of a pain in the butt, it’s still easier than manually doing it in word which takes hours.
Best scifi fonts for book design
This is not an exhaustive list at all; actually I’m just playing around with my new book cover creator tool and these are some of the free fonts that are built in, that are kind of suited for science fiction.
In general, scifi fonts will be blocky serifs fonts.
A massive list of fonts
Here’s a graphic I made awhile ago, the quality isn’t great but you should be able to scan it and pick out something you like. But keep your body font simple, and just choose one “fancy” font that communicates your genre and matches your cover.
Where to buy fonts?
Some programs include free fonts, but they typically aren’t great. For a really powerful cover, you might need a professional font; these you’ll have to buy a license for. There are a bunch of stock sites, but I like CreativeMarket, or Envato Fonts.
The trick is, choosing the right font for your genre and book cover.
Need help formatting your book?
Visit www.diybookformats.com for free book formatting templates, some tutorial videos and tons of free bonuses!
- How to Find the Best Book Cover Designers with Examples and Step-by-Step Instructions
- 300+ Fool-Proof Fonts to use for your Book Cover Design (an epic list of best fonts per genre)
- Where to find royalty-free stock images for your book cover (and how to avoid choosing the same one as everybody else).
Have another font you absolutely love, that deserves to be on this list? Share it in the comments!
UPDATE: This post is a bit dated, so I recently made a brand new list of more modern font choices to use in your book design. You can get it in my formatting course, along with a ton of done-for-you book formatting templates. For a limited time, I’m also including some of my most popular book marketing strategies to help you get more reviews, build an author website and email list, and launch to #1 bestseller.
The total value of all these publishing and marketing resources was $628 originally, but I really want to help more writers, so I’ve discounted it to just $37 for a limited time. I’ll definitely raise the price once I finish rebuilding the site with new templates. Happy writing!
I’m a philosophy dropout with a PhD in Literature. I covet a cabin full of cats, where I can write fantasy novels to pay for my cake addiction. Sometimes I live in castles.