One of the biggest struggles for those in self-publishing is how to design book covers that use professional looking typeface and font.
Because copy often receives less attention on a book cover design than say, a graphic, it’s easy to overlook the importance of seemingly small details such as typeface and point size. However, those small details can increase book sales and set professional book covers apart.
This article provides the information you need to ensure your type looks good and contributes to the professional appearance of your book covers.
For information on letter spacing, kerning or word placement on the page, read Kerning and Leading: Spacing Letters and Lines on Book Covers .
This cover uses a single typeface in three sizes: 12, 30, and 90. A fourth size (24) is added for the word The in the title.
Assuming they will garner the most attention, the words Love Letters are placed in the largest point size. By emphasizing certain words and minimizing others, this design makes a big impression on the viewers most likely to be interested. It will also compete well against the other book covers in the same category.
To better understand how point size works in the context of designing book covers, let’s first look at how it influences what you are trying to say. As discussed in Book Covers that Increase Sales, your book covers are the packaging for your books, and therefore should convey a complete message in a single glance. (That doesn’t mean they can’t covey additional messages at a closer look.) However, when we first look at a product, rather than read each word on the packaging or cover, we tend to glance over the whole thing, taking it in at once. This is what I call the first glance appearance. What do your book covers look like at a first glance? Do they inform the buyer? Are they confusing or are they clear?
Without actually reading the cover, a buyer should be able to see which group of words belongs to the title, which group is part of the author information, and which one is descriptive text or endorsements. (For book covers, the size of the text elements tell us which are the most important at first glance, and which are available at a closer look.) Our eyes should know exactly where to look to find each piece of information, right away, without having to work for it. This creates near-instant comprehension, and is a key component of good packaging because customers respond to it favorably. It works exactly the same way on book covers.
The size of your cover text helps facilitate the quick and easy recognition that consumers crave when glancing over an assortment of products. For book covers, that means using three point sizes. One size for the key words of the title (usually 48 or higher), a second size for the author name and subtitle (anywhere from 18-36 points), and a third for blurbs, promos, and descriptive text (usually 10-12 points). If needed, a fourth size can be used for less significant words in the title, such as the and of.
Left In the first example, all of the copy is in 24 or 30-point type. Though the words are clear and readable, the lack of variation in text size makes the cover more difficult to understand, especially at a first glance. Copy overwhelms the page and the viewer can’t quickly or easily find the most important information. You can easily see why this strategy is never used for professional designed book covers or even top-selling, self-published book covers.
After Using the same words and phrases, in the same order, this book cover becomes comprehensible and better looking when the typeface is sized and varied, by importance. Three point sizes are used and a fourth is added for The in the title. Notice that even though many of the words and sentences become smaller and harder to read, the cover itself becomes easier to understand. Viewers are drawn first to the title, and from there they can explore the cover for the secondary information, should they need it. It can now compete with other book covers on the shelf (or in the listing).
The letter a is shown below in Garamond, using the traditional point scale found in most word processing programs. You can rely on this scale for sizes that complement one another on your book covers.
Size 10-14: Use for blurbs, quotes, excerpts, endorsements, descriptions and other detailed information on the front and back cover.
Size 18-36: Use for the subtitle, author name and less significant words in the title (the, of, and, from).
Size 48-72+: Reserve for words in the main title. Feel free to go larger than 72 for key words.
Lower case a’s are shown above in the same point size, but as you can see, the actual, physical size varies, depending on the typeface.
That’s all for now on point size for your book covers. Thanks for reading!
Next Article: Type: Contrast & Legibility
Previous Article: Typeface and Font for Book Covers
Other articles that may interest you:
- Kerning and Leading: Spacing Letters and Lines
- Book Cover Copy: Front and Back
- Copy Placement: Where do the words go?
By Stacie Vander Pol