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Playing with Font

I confess, this past week hasn’t been one of the most productive. Honestly, I didn’t so much as glance at either story since last Monday or so, though I did move The Nobodies’ massive stack of chapters onto a shelf while tidying up over the weekend.

You may think this lack of progress is due to what I vaguely mentioned last post. Well, you would be right. In part. More to blame was the launch of the PlayStation Vita, my first handheld gaming platform since the Game Boy Advance (released in 2001 and discontinued in 2004 to give you an idea of how long it’s been). I’ll talk about my experience with the device in a future Hobby Hole, but for now suffice it to say I’ve devoted almost every free minute it’s been charged to playing through and finishing Uncharted: Golden Abyss. And, my oh my, has it been glorious.

Realizing the other night just how much I suck, I sat down to read through Amazon’s fairly extensive self-publishing guidelines. I won’t duplicate them here in their entirety since you can easily read them for yourself (if you feel up to it), but one section that immediately concerned my was formatting my title:

Layout: Use indentations, bold characters, italics and headings, as they will translate into your Kindle book. However, bullet points, special fonts, headers, and footers will not be transferred, so be sure to avoid those.

Page Breaks: Enter a page break at the end of every chapter to prevent the text from running together. To insert a page break in MS Word, click "Insert" at the top menu bar and select "Page Break."

Image Placement: Images should be inserted in JPEG (or .jpeg) format with center alignment (don't copy and paste from another source). Select "Insert" > "Picture" > then locate and select the file. If your book has a lot of images, it can be viewed in color by readers using our free Kindle apps for PC, MAC, iPad, iPhone, and Android. Otherwise, remember that images on Kindle are displayed in 16 shades of gray for great contrast and clarity.

Spellcheck and Grammar: This tool is always your friend to ensure a professional presentation free of typos. Use this tool, but also manually proofread your file to ensure no errors are missed by the automated checker.


First and foremost, having already conducted spelling and grammar checks and still working on Sanity’s Flaw’s cover (more on that soon), was ensuring page breaks, section breaks and proper layout were used. The latter proved a minor issue as, when I first wrote the book, I wasn’t aware of Word’s incorporated vertical centering as it’s a bit hidden if you’re not familiar with the program. This I corrected (a pain in itself, as each time I did so, Word would insert unnecessary page breaks or format a section I hadn’t selected). Then I turned to my font.

Like most authors, I’m sure, I wrote Sanity’s Flaw in standard Times New Roman, accentuating different areas as needed but otherwise sticking to the generic font the whole way through. As nifty as Times is, though, it seems to me too… juvenile, too… crude to be used as a font for a professional title and, as such, needed to be replaced.

After researching some design ideas (sadly, I can’t find the sites I looked at right now), I settled on the simply concept of sticking to a San Serif font for the body and a Serif for the headers. This keeps the look and feel of the book clean while adding a certain sense of style and charm as well.

Using a few excerpts for comparison purposes, I pored through Word’s extensive catalog and chose a select few I thought deserved a closer examination. In the end, I was left with four pages of eerily similar types.

For you, I’ve narrowed it down to my top five. Those I selected for the body (the example below is from my dedication page) were:


Californian FB
To the one woman who is now and forever the love of my life,
I would not be where I am today without you.
I love you.

Corbel
To the one woman who is now and forever the love of my life,
I would not be where I am today without you.
I love you.

Franklin Gothic Book
To the one woman who is now and forever the love of my life,
I would not be where I am today without you.
I love you.

Gautami
To the one woman who is now and forever the love of my life,
I would not be where I am today without you.
I love you.

Verdana
To the one woman who is now and forever the love of my life,
I would not be where I am today without you.
I love you.

And those I picked for the title (note that, while I’ve only included the title here, I also used chapter heads and other excerpts for my own comparison purposes):

Bodoni MT
Sanity’s Flaw

Centaur
Sanity’s Flaw

Century
Sanity’s Flaw

Footlight MT Light
Sanity’s Flaw

Perpetua
Sanity’s Flaw

I’ve already chosen my favorite for the body, though I’ve yet to come to a firm decision regarding the title and chapter heads. I think I’ll decide for sure once I format the book as a whole.

Next week: Creating Front Matter

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