Monday, January 12, 2009

Writing the Novel - Which Font is Best?

This is a question I get asked a lot, and as simple as it seems, it can create a lot of confusion.

What is the best font to use for my novel?

The simple answer is to use whatever works for you, is appealing to your eye, and most importantly, easy to read.

The more involved answer is that agents do have preferences. They don't want anything flashy or creative or flamboyant. Beginning writers often try to play with different fonts as a way to express their individuality or creativity. Nothing screams out amateur greater than this. The font is not where you will stand out to an agent, it's the writing. A flamboyant font is enough of a red flag for agents to toss your manuscript into the trash.

What agents want is a professional looking (and reading) manuscript that follows strict format. They also want a font that is easy to read.

Originally, I wrote in Courier because I was told it was the most neutral. I've since switched because the spacing between the letters creates too many pages for the word count. After speaking with Robert Dugoni, I now use exclusively, Times New Roman, and have since learned that this is a very commonly used, accepted font with professional writers.

Other basic fonts should be acceptable, but the beauty of Times New Roman is that the page count you'll get using this font is nearly identical to the page count for the finished product. In other words, my novel at 102,000 words is 454 pages, just as it will appear when printed (or close to it.)

Save the standing out for your writing. When it comes to font, it's best to blend in with the rest.


darkspark said...

i admire the things that you have done in your life. i am an aspiring writer, however while i may have the ability with words, i do not have the technique yet. i would appreciate if you can give me some guidance please. thanks.

Todd D. Severin said...

Thanks for writing, Darkspark. I'll do my best to go over all the techniques I've learned along the way. If you have any specific topics you'd like to see discussed, post a comment, and I'll do my best to get to them.

Thanks for writing.

Gabriel Gadfly said...

Lately, I write in Calibri 14 point, because I find it easy on my eyes. I adjust to a more industry-accepted font when submitting something for publication, but for the down-and-gritty writing, I haven't found anything I like better than my Calibri 14.

Simon said...

I read a lot of Stephen King and Dan Brown, and I wanted to get the same effect for italicized words as they did--after some testing, I've found that their most recent novels are printed in Garamond 12-14pt

Anonymous said...

When I write my story, I usually use a font that best suits the character. But when I get my story published, I know I'm going to have to change the font, I just absolutely hate Times New Roman! It's too...normal!

Artist CG said...

What about preferred font size? I have been in the habit for years of using Garamond 10pt. for my poetry. It's tiny, I know. I'm not sure why the petite font looks so appealing to me. Perhaps I like that more can fit on a page, rather than the poem getting stretched over 2 or 3 pages. I realize I could alienate some readers from my words with this small size. Maybe I can get use to looking at the Times New Roman in 11pt. Help! I need font therapy!

Anonymous said...

I am quite young, but love writing, as it seems to give me time to think and relax, while doing something productive. I am also in love with fonts! I do not like Times New Roman, and I was wondering if you have any other fonts that you would recommend. Thank you very much for your help. Let me know!

Lilly Andron said...

Would you reccommend any other types of font?

dragonfly said...

Gosh, I feel like a real newbie, even though this story I am writing since 1999, has taken me here to learn which font to use. I am just glad to write, but to be concerned about a font and type size I guess is necessary, so I will follow other's lead. It has brought me to your pages/site. Thanks for the chance to engage in the lessons.