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Book design: Editor's Notes #169
July 31, 2014
Hello,

Success in life is founded upon attention to the small things.
--Booker T. Washington


In this issue:

1. Font matters
2. Tickled my funnybone
3. Interesting Web site

For those who have been waiting for Facebook author #3's story, do not despair. A combination of circumstances has forced me to postpone that issue, but it is coming. In the mean time, I hope you enjoy learning a little about fonts.

1. Font matters

Desktop publishing has made us all designers to some extent. Those of us who self-publish do well to know at least a little about design whether we hire a designer or not.

Here is a quick introduction to some of the things a designer knows and considers when choosing a font for a book.

First, some terms:
  • x-height: the height of a lower case x.
  • cap height: the height of upper case letters
  • ascender: the part of a lower case letter above the x-height (b, d, h, etc.)
  • descender: the part of a lower case letter below the x-height (g, j, p, etc.)
  • bowl: the empty space inside some letters (a, b, d, etc.)
  • serif: short cross-strokes at the top and bottom of a letter. (Fonts without these strokes are called sans-serif.)


Now let's use these terms to help you choose a font for your book, your business cards, or the body of your letters. Good font choice sends a message about you or your content.

If you want to convey conventionality, use a serif font with a small x-height and long ascenders and descenders.

If you want to give an air of being contemporary, use a sans-serif font with high x-height and short ascenders and descenders.

For dignity, choose a serif font with slightly pinched bowls.

If you want to send a message of friendliness, choose a font with rounded bowls and rounded serifs.

Now, open your list of fonts, and choose wisely.

(Note that the rules change somewhat for display text like headlines, letterhead, or posters.)
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2.Tickled my funnybone
What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.

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3. Interesting Web site
Here is a good jumping-off place to move further into the understanding of fonts.
http://desktoppub.about.com/od/typetutorials/a/bodycopy.htm

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