By Annette Wood
Nov 3, 2017
Choosing fonts for book cover design
Your book cover is the single most important visual aspect of your book. It's the first thing people see! And like it or not, if a potential buyer is turned off by the cover, they won't even peek inside to check out your great content.
Maybe your budget doesn't allow for professional design. If you decide to design your cover yourself you can combine a nice photograph with text and come up with a very nice cover. In this instance your font choices are SUPER important! It's just the photo and the text hanging out and if the proper fonts are not chosen it can scream "unprofessional."
Follow these rules and you're on your way to a nice cover.
Keep the number of fonts at 3. More than that and it starts to look cluttered and hard to read. Of course, all rules are made to be broken... I'm talking here specifically about a design with a full page image with text over it. if your cover is just text you can achieve something really cool with a combination of different fonts, but tread lightly here!
Never use Comic Sans (unless you're designing a flyer for a five year old's birthday party). Don't do it. Just don't. Another font that is waaaaay overused and kinda screams unprofessional is Papyrus. I get it... I really do. When I first discovered Papyrus I loved that font. Used it all the time! Problem is, so did everyone else. And it comes pre-loaded on computers now. People think it's cool - oh, look at this awesome font! It's been done, it's over, move on. There are like a bazillion really cool fonts out there now. literally... a bazillion. It's a thing. You can absolutely find something artsy and funky and cool that is way more unique than Papyrus. The World will thank you. In this Ryan Gosling SNL skit he feels my (and that of every designer you will every talk to) pain and describes it as used for "hookah bars, Shakira merchandise and off-brand teas." Check it out!
Helvetica is another font that has been around forever. But that's because it's classic. It's simple and doesn't have a distinctness to it, it doesn't call attention to itself, it just calmly does its job. There are two Helvetica camps... the It's Overused and Archaic Camp and the It's Classic Camp. If you elect to not use Helvetica, there are many, many sans serif choices out there (Myriad, Gotham, etc).
Never use all Caps with a Script font. I know, I know... you see it all the time (think RSVP). Doesn't make it right. Nope... don't do it. When I see this it actually causes me physical pain. It's hard to read. It doesn't look good. If you determine that it's appropriate for text to be in All Caps, take the time to look at different fonts and find one that is designed to display well as All Caps.
You can find hundreds of fantastic, unique fonts at very low cost at Creative Market. FontSquirrel has a large selection of free fonts, as does DaFont.com. Make sure and check the license at DaFont, many are free for personal use but charge a small fee for professional use or ask for a donation.
I wish you great luck with the design of your Cover! If you decide you do want to hire a professional, send me a note... I'd LOVE to design an awesome book cover for you!