Michaeline: Font Size Matters

 

Japanese newspapers see caption

These are two of the newspapers we get at home — above is The Japan Agricultural News (Nihon Nogyo Shimbun), and below is the Hokkaido Shimbun. Both carry the same headline outlined in black: Nationwide State of Emergency Declaration. The agricultural newspaper’s headline takes up about a sixth of the front page, while the regional newspaper allots about an eighth of the page for the headline. (E.M. Duskova, taken April 17th)

Just a quicky today, but the newspaper we got yesterday caught my eye. Look at the size of that headline! Even if you don’t read a word of Japanese, you know that some editor thinks this story is a big effing deal – that’s the size of font usually reserved for war. In this case, both headlines say the same thing: “Nationwide State of Emergency Declaration.” For more information, here’s an article from the Mainichi Shimbun with the same headline. 

So, what’s the font size on your book? If you are mostly interested in self-publishing ebooks, I don’t know if the font size really matters anymore on the inside of the book. The reader can adjust it. You do want to make it friendly and inviting, though, so don’t go for 8 points or smaller. (For reference, the default font on my Word Document is 10.5 when it’s at 100 percent. A point is about 1/72nd of an inch, or around 0.353 mm according to Wikipedia.) 

From what I’ve seen, the biggest element on the book cover for many authors is the picture. A picture can convey a feeling, a genre and a whole lot of information. If the title and author’s name are too big, it will leave less room for the illustration to communicate.

However, for some big name authors, the name IS the selling point. And, in a few rare cases, the title might be the best way to grab attention.

Cover Design Studio recommends 48 pt or larger for the keywords of the title, 18 to 36 pt for the author name and subtitle, and 10 to 12 pt for blurbs, promos and descriptive texts. 

You can see how big fonts play out in this humorous BBC article about modern book cover clichés.  In particular, note how LARGE FONTS = GIANT AUTHOR in the heavy-weight literary category, and how in the thrillers, Little Known Author gets a relatively small font.

I also find the Lee Child book cover interesting – KNOWN AUTHOR is huge, the title is fairly large, and the series title (JACK REACHER) is definitely large and readable. If you look at YA series, such as Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, the series names dominate the cover completely in many editions.

Also interesting: you can kill two birds with one stone by incorporating the title into the artwork. The “female-orientated fiction” uses silhouettes with huge fonts for the titles, and the name (our friend, Little Known Author) gets a much smaller font.

Anyway, just a short little meditation on something we all know. I must admit, my mind has not been on writing very much this week. I’m nesting – grooming dogs, cleaning house, and spending an hour or so recuperating under cats in the evening. So, here. Have a picture of a Good Boy and a Good Girl.

Doggies with somewhat long fur, freshly brushed and the wind ruffling them up.

OK, to make up for the shortness of the piece, have a double doggie picture worth at least 1,000 words. Rex, front, has been betrayed by me because I shampooed and rinsed his back. Nana, who was not betrayed today, gnaws on a fake bone. The weather is lovely, but as you can see by the ears and fur, windy. (E.M. Duskova)

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