sans serifThink me old fashioned and stubborn, but I happen to like good ol’ Times New Roman. When it comes to readability in a book, I can’t go past it. So I unashamedly use it in the paper versions of my books.

Of course there are 1,000 opinions about font selection for a book. Sans serif, serif, modern, classic, avante garde and just plain silly. Bit for me it always comes back to the tried and true classics. While I don’t use Arial, Helvetica, Gill Sans or Baskerville in print, I do think these are great fonts for web use.

With the advent of e-books I suppose it hardly matters anymore anyway as the reader can choose their own favourite font no matter how much care went into the font selection at the time of publishing.

Another stuck in the mud view I have is about page numbers and headers. Unless page numbers are at the bottom of the page, I really think they look like an afterthought. Similarly for the author’s name and chapter title in the header. How obscenely grotesque and a complete waste of page space. Isn’t the name on the cover, spine, back and second page enough?

Then there is the nasty little trick of fattening a book by increasing the page margins. I received a book recently that weighed in at 365 pages, but used page margins the size of the Pacific. Not only did it look ridiculous, it was a waste of paper, shipping costs, carbon emissions and it made me so angry I didn’t bother to read it. If a book only has 25,000 words, making it into a tome will not make it carry anymore weight.

The last book design technique that irks me is the small and sometimes hardly noticeable increase in letter spacing (kerning) and/or line spacing. A 0.1 point increase in both can increase the page count by between 15 – 20%. Not a bad way to make a book look better value?

I think that is enough griping for one day. I must have taken too many grumpy pills for breakfast.

I Like Times New Roman
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3 thoughts on “I Like Times New Roman

  • 07/10/2010 at 9:36 am

    I couldn't agree more Derek. When I write, I use Times New Roman and 12 point always. However when you submit something to a magazine or publisher they change it to suit their purpose sadly. I also hate that extra spacing that happens from time to time in a line on the page. Why do they do it? I can see no benefit from the practice, can you? :)

  • 07/10/2010 at 10:26 am

    I think we are common ground here Jack. Except I tend to have shifted to 11 point! I don't understand the extra spaces either, and I also have an aversion to the new overuse of dashes in dialogue. Not a hyphen, but a bloody big long dash. There's perfectly good punctuation available, or just say the character paused! Very annoying. Like reading Morse Code!

    Don't get me started on quotation marks! lol I'm still a "99" "66" man!

  • 17/08/2011 at 6:30 am

    E-book readers can NOT choose their own fonts! Sure, there are a few formats and readers that allow some freedom> Mobipocket Reader is awesome. But Adobe? Kindle? B&N’s Nook crap? NO font options except size, which means you are stuck with reading half a paragraph per “page” if have any visual impairment. Unless you can bust the DRM and convert.

    Times New Eyestrain on a computer monitor is fscking torture. Anyone who assumes (ass+etc.) that it doesn’t make a difference should try glaucoma on for size.

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