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Author Topic: Font and Font size for 8x11 book  (Read 9216 times)
Seamus
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Posts: 116


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« on: April 25, 2009, 02:04:44 PM »

I know nothing about typography and layout, but I have 6 months to figure it out for our first release (if I can't do it in that time, I guess I'll have to plunk down money for a Layout person). We are making a Spy-themed game, and I thought Courier would be a nice headline font, paired with Future Bk body text. My first question is, does anyone think either of these, or the combination of the two, doesn't work?

The game book will be 128 pages, 8x11. I want the font to be readable. My eye sight isn't so good, and some of those twin columned small font books give me a lot of trouble. Is 12 points of Future Bk way too large for a published book? Would it look awful in one column. Sorry if these are remedial questions, I just have a lot to learn, and I want to make sure our book doesn't look terrible.
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Bedrock Games
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Vulpinoid
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Kitsune Trickster


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« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2009, 04:47:06 PM »

The first bit of advice you'll hear from most typographers, layout artists, graphic designers and editors..."Don't use more than 2 fonts in a work".

You've got that covered, so you're doing better than a lot of first timers.

Beyond that, the best advice I could give you is to come up with a couple of mock-up pages. One for a chapter title page, one for a regular page, and then maybe a third that contains some type of table or graphic in it.

Don't worry about using the real text from the book at this stage, and don't get too precious about the appearances. At this point you're just trying to make sure it looks good, and is legible. Play with font sizes up and down a couple of points, some fonts work better in 13-14 pts, others are still pretty legible in 10-11 pts. You may need to play with kerning and leading (the spacing between individual words and the row space between lines), these two factors can play just an important role in legibility as font size.

Once you think the mock-up pages look good to your eyes, show them to a couple of other people. Most will probably say "that looks fine", or something similar, but someone might point out a problem that you hadn't noticed. Make adjustments based on that feedback, but make sure it still looks good in your eyes. After all, it's your project.

It's a bit like the feedback loop involved in playtesting.

Eventually you'll hit something where you say, "That's what I want!!!", then use your mock-up pages as templates to lay out the entire book.

The process isn't that hard, it doesn't even need expensive programs, but it can be time consuming.

Just some ideas...

V

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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
Luke
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« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2009, 10:21:38 AM »

Try Futura 10 pt over 13 pt leading. If you're going to do a single column, make it 3.5" wide in the center of the page. No wider.

If you want to hit 128 pages, you're going to have to keep your font size relative to the amount of text you want in the book. My books have 250-300 words per page. They're 304 pages long. I use a nice 9/12 Bauer Bodoni. Of course, Mouse Guard uses a positively airy 10 pt Tiepolo over 14 pt leading. That's very readable.

Best thing to do is find a book you like and copy it note for note.

-L
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2009, 10:33:55 AM »

I have been a fan of Palatino Linotype ever since someone suggested it to me a few years back as a body font. It's larger than Times New Roman at the same font size, so is better legible at smaller sizes. It's an easy to read serifed font with a bit more personality than Times, as well.

I have no specific opinion about your proposed font combination. I'd have to see them laid out as you're considering before I could really give one. My gut says 12pt is too big, though.. But I tend to be the oddball when it comes to that. I like small icons on my desktop, and small fonts, because it just seems like you can fit more information in a given space. Information density isn't necessarily a desirable trait in laying out a book, though.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2009, 09:18:49 AM »

I'd echo what Luke says. Go browse some books in a shop or library and find something you like. Then mimic that layout as best you can. It probably helps to see what other people have done to make a book "feel" like a spy-themed book.

If you want a larger font for readability then my feeling is that 12 pt will seems too large, but you'll maybe find 9 pt text too small. I have a soft spot for 10 on 12 pt (that is a 10 pt font with 12 pt line spacing) or 11 on 13 pt.

A column of text should ideally have no more than 9-11 characters per line on average, so as Luke says a 3.5-inch column should be as wide as you go. It will also leave room for marginal notes. A single column as wide as the page in 8x11 format would be hard going. The line length will be too long and you'll get lost skipping from one line to the next when reading. You can use the full width when presenting multi-column tables, though.

Courier is a "typewriter" type of font, and it might work well for the spy feel as a header. It will work in a heading but I would not use it for body text. It's also quite common (which can be both good or bad, of course). There are some other typewriter type fonts that are distressed or slightly different so maybe look at other "typewriter" fonts too.

For body text, I would say the simplest and most readable fonts are serif fonts like Times or Palatino. Modern sans serifs can be readable too. If you look on somewhere like www.adobe.com/type you can search by use. Try looking under "Body text (books, journals, magazines". I see ones such as Bauer Bodoni, Caslon, Frutiger, Gill Sans, Jenson, Minion, Myriad, Optima, Palatino, Sabon, Warnock. There's a mix of serif and sans serif in there, but they should all be highly readable over large amounts of writing.

I think Futura might be better for short text blocks rather than longer runs of text that your book may have.

When you have a large sample block of text and images, try making some layout pages with a few different fonts to see how they work (or not) for you.
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Seamus
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« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2009, 11:17:35 AM »

Thanks to everyone for the help.

Someone mentioned something about Font copyright. I tried looking it up, but didn't get much clarity. Do I need to pay just to use a font like Future BK or Adobe Garamond Pro? If it is already in my INdesign program, do I still need to pay or ask permission when I go to a printer?
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Bedrock Games
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mjbauer
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Posts: 115


« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2009, 06:50:31 PM »

Thanks to everyone for the help.

Someone mentioned something about Font copyright. I tried looking it up, but didn't get much clarity. Do I need to pay just to use a font like Future BK or Adobe Garamond Pro? If it is already in my INdesign program, do I still need to pay or ask permission when I go to a printer?

If you are using a typeface you should purchase it first. If it's a default font that came with InDesign or your Operating System then you already own it. 
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mjbauer = Micah J Bauer
Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2009, 04:01:10 AM »

If your font is properly owned then you can embed it in your PDFs. As MJ Bauer says your Operating System will have standard installed fonts and programs like InDesign come with fonts such as Adobe Garamond Pro that you are allowed to "embed" in your PDFs. So, you can safely embed these fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman and so on (don't listen to people who say you can't).

Two things to watch out for if getting fonts from the internet...
1. If you fetch "free" (or shareware) fonts from the web you may find that they are simply not allowed to be embedded in a PDF (InDesign will warn you of this when you try to do it). This is something that is hardwired into the font, it just won't allow embedding. In this case, I would find another font since you will need the fonts to be embedded in the PDF.

2. You may want to use a "free" font but the licence (in a readme file packaged with the font) only grants "non-commercial" use. Selling your book or PDF means commercial use and you should contact the font creator and pay for a licence for commercial use (it might be only $25 or so, or perhaps an instruction from the creator not to use the font commercially).

However, if you stick to the ones bundled with your OS and your software you will be fine. If you like you can buy fonts online, but in the first instance I would advise using something you already have to hand on your computer -- they will surely suffice for your needs.

Courier for headers and Adobe Garamond would work well. If you have Palatino it's good too. I find it quite elegant and SLA Industries, for example, looked good using it.

--
PS. Oh, when people talk about companies owning copyrights to fonts and so on, what they likely mean is that fonts are like software. You cannot distribute or share them unless specifically allowed. So, you can't share your Arial or Times New Roman font files with friends, but you _are_ allowed to embed the font in a PDF file.
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David C
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lost in the woods...


« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2009, 09:11:58 PM »

I've heard that for printed work, you want to use only True Type Fonts.  (use wikipedia.)   
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...but enjoying the scenery.
Carnifex
Member

Posts: 20


« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2009, 11:58:09 PM »

I've heard that for printed work, you want to use only True Type Fonts.  (use wikipedia.)   

Wrong. While it might work you should use PostScript Type 1 fonts or OpenType fonts. OpenType is the best.
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Graham W
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« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2009, 12:47:31 PM »

Could you explain why OpenType/TrueType is the best? Assertions aren't very helpful by themselves.

Graham
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btrc
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« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2009, 03:20:48 AM »

I've been partial to Century Gothic for a while as a nicely readable sans serif. One other point that is worth noting is that some fonts show up better on screen than others, which is relevant if you are doing a pdf and expect some people to use it on their computer rather than print it off. I guess the most important thing is that the font helps convey the theme of the book. A spy book should have something that goes with the spy motif, while retaining readability. I'd expect a different font than you would use for say a Victorian Era game or a Classical Greece game.

Greg Porter
BTRC
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2009, 04:52:55 AM »

The font format is actually only indicative of the font's quality - all font formats are complex, they by themselves do not guarantee much of anything about the actual contents of the font file. And then there's the fact that even if the font has the right type of information, who's to know how well-done the font's kerning, special glyphs and such details are?

In other words, saying that "opentype is best" or "type1 is best" or such is meaningless; you have to be able to trust the creator of the font to do quality work all over, or be able to verify the work yourself. The font wrapper format is a relatively inconsequential issue in comparison, as both Truetype and Type1 can be used to describe fonts pretty reasonably. Opentype is of course best, being a newer generation of format, but all three of those can be used for professional work - unless your printer tells you that they only handle certain font formats or something, of course.
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Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Carnifex
Member

Posts: 20


« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2009, 05:44:19 AM »

The font format is actually only indicative of the font's quality - all font formats are complex, they by themselves do not guarantee much of anything about the actual contents of the font file. And then there's the fact that even if the font has the right type of information, who's to know how well-done the font's kerning, special glyphs and such details are?

In other words, saying that "opentype is best" or "type1 is best" or such is meaningless; you have to be able to trust the creator of the font to do quality work all over, or be able to verify the work yourself. The font wrapper format is a relatively inconsequential issue in comparison, as both Truetype and Type1 can be used to describe fonts pretty reasonably. Opentype is of course best, being a newer generation of format, but all three of those can be used for professional work - unless your printer tells you that they only handle certain font formats or something, of course.

First you state that "saying that "opentype is best" or "type1 is best" or such is meaningless" and then you say that "Opentype is of course best"...
I'm only talking about the technical format of the font - not how well the font is made or how good a font looks.

TrueType is not compatible with earlier versions of PostScript (level 1 and 2) - which some print shops might still use. That's why I avoid TrueType formatted fonts. When I started working as a graphic designer you could not print a document with truetype fonts at all (as PostScript level 3 came 1997). PostScript fonts, on the other hand might cause some other problems when printing to a non-postscript printer.

OpenType format is clearly a superior format. A OT font can have more than 65000 characters and supports advanced typography features. You don't have to have separate font files for italic, bold, heavy etc. It's the ISO-format font. The same font file can also be used both on PC and Mac.

Note that most fonts are made in several different formats. Times New Roman, for example, exists in both TrueType, Type 1 and OpenType format.

The only reason not to use OpenType is when you're working with old versions of Word or Windows.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenType
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PostScript
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_1_Font
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2009, 12:49:45 PM »

And, of course, because the font you have happens to be in an older format and you don't want to rebuy your font library in Opentype. My point was that it is likely better to use the typographically best font you have available, making the wrapper format a secondary concern. Some rare printers might not be able to handle Truetype, but I've yet to encounter that in practice, myself.
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Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
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