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Cover AND Interiors: Typography

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One of the more challenging aspects of book design is typography. Some covers are more about the font (the way the letters look) than they are any other design. I once told a designer I was mentoring that a truly outstanding font can do wonders to elevate an otherwise mediocre design, but a terrible font will destroy an otherwise excellent cover.

It’s mission-critical to use fonts which include a commercial license. If the font is installed by default with Windows or Mac, it doesn’t guarantee you’re licensed to use it for commercial projects.

All Adobe Fonts, included with your Adobe product subscription, are good to go for commercial use:

Several other sites offer free fonts for commercial use. When you visit sites like fontsquirrel or 1001fonts, products are clearly marked if they’re safe for commercial use. However, whether using free or purchased fonts, read the fine print. I bought a font which said it was okay to use commercially. When I opened and read the terms, it included one critical exception: it explicitly stated it couldn’t be used for eBooks. Since as an author and book designer I knew I’d be working heavily with eBooks, I deleted the font and ate the (thankfully small) fee I paid to purchase it. It’s cheaper to dump a font than to lose a lawsuit.

As you might guess, Adobe fonts are widely-used because they don’t cost anything above the price of the Adobe product subscription. Same goes for free font options on the bigger font sites.

For a cover that stands out in a good way, it requires digging a little deeper. There are tens of thousands – maybe hundreds of thousands – of fonts out there. Some are free for personal use only. However, I reach out to the designer and ask about a commercial license. Some offer their fonts for commercial use for a low cost. Others say no. One lady told me, “Oh, I’m fine with it being used for books and tee shirts. I just don’t want anybody selling the font itself!”

Font sites range from free to inexpensive to pricey-but-worth-it. Some of my favorites include:

  • The Hungry Jpeg (free and inexpensive fonts, graphics, and Photoshop add-ons)
  • Creative Fabrica (free and inexpensive fonts, bundle deals)
  • Deal Jumbo (lots of bundle deals, free to expensive)
  • Mighty Deals (bundles and individual elements, including fonts)
  • Letterhead Fonts (Premium fonts, higher priced in general but also higher-quality fonts you can’t buy elsewhere)
  • Master Bundles (bundle deals, as the name implies, but also individual graphics, fonts, etc.)

Keep checking back on this page as I hope to add additional links as time goes on.

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