Typefaces in Tomorrow’s Songs Today

Normally I don’t think much about typefaces, unless something egregious like inappropriate use of Comic Sans is involved. When I sent out the latest chapter draft of Tomorrow’s Songs Today, though, I got some feedback that forced me to consider my choice of font. I’d been using Open Office’s default of Times New Roman, but it turns out to be a poor choice of fonts for a book about filk.

Why should subject matter affect the choice of fonts? Well, the character sequence “fi” occurs a lot in this book, and when it’s italicized in Times New Roman, it doesn’t look that great. The “f” and the dot of the “i” collide in an unsatisfying way.

'Westerfilk' in Times New Roman italic

When the Golds pointed this out to me, I tried some other fonts and found that Baskerville handles that combination better. The top curl of the “f” replaces the dot of the “i.”

'Westerfilk' in Baskerville italic

Barry suggested trying Georgia. Its letter shapes are similar to Baskerville, but it’s more readable. This is partly because it’s larger for the same nominal point size, but also because it’s wider with thicker strokes. The “fi” combination keeps a separate dot for the “i,” without a collision.

'Westerfilk' in Georgia

The typeface will definitely change, though whether I’ll use the font of the Baskervilles or go down to Georgia isn’t something I’ve decided yet. I’ve got more of an appreciation than before of how typefaces matter.

Please support my IndieGoGo campaign, so the book will have the editorial support to make it the best history I can produce.


2 Responses to “Typefaces in Tomorrow’s Songs Today”

  1. Gary E Says:

    Interesting question. Might be worth pinging one of our resident authors like Tanya or Maya or Seanan about standard book fonts. While they may not know the answers themselves, they have editors they can ask. And I’m sure there has to be a website or two somewhere out there aimed at self-publishers with font guidance.

  2. Avram Says:

    The technical name for this kind of thing, where two letters are combined into one, is a ligature. If you’re using a Mac, a lot of OpenType fonts (the font files end with .otf) have nifty added features like ligatures that can be activated by applications that know how to take advantage of them. I don’t know if OpenOffice is one of those.

    If you want simple typography advice, check out Butterick’s Practical Typography, a site which explains a lot of typography terms, recommends best practices, and gives advice about choosing fonts.

Comments are closed.