Press Note: Selecting Fonts to Use for an Anthology

In this series, editors of the Poetry International Chapbook Series and Poetry International staff will discuss the process of running a contemporary press and literary journal: from collaborating with fellow editors to navigating design technologies to promoting a new publication, and all the spaces in between.

Selecting Fonts to Use for an Anthology
by Jessica Amos

Perhaps one of the most tedious parts of creating an anthology (or any kind of book) is deciding what kind of font to use. From serif to sans serif, bold to black, and the plethora of font families in Microsoft Word, choosing the perfect fonts to use can be difficult, and we have learned this getting closer to publishing our anthologies. With the pieces picked and organized, it’s become time to pick which fonts we editors will be using for the text. Because there are so many fonts, some editors may feel like this may be harder than we thought, but just like we’ve tackled other issues, we can tackle this. Here are a couple tips I’ve come up with to keep in mind while picking fonts so your time can be used effectively.

  • Consider the type of anthology you’re creating. If it were an anthology of love poems, maybe a sophisticated serif font would be nice for body text and the title. If it were an anthology of essays, maybe a sans serif font for the title would be nice with a serif font for the body text. A manual could have a bold sans serif font for headings and subheadings with the font not boldfaced as the body text. The possibilities are endless, but narrowing down appropriateness based on content could help.
  • Try sticking to one font family. An editor needs a font for the title, author, chapters, headings and subheadings, body text, footnotes, etc. An editor may want to use a sans serif font for things like author’s name and headings, whereas a serif font may be more suitable for everything else. A way to keep things less complicated would be to pick fonts from the same family. For example, Lucida has serif and sans serif fonts within the family, so there’s a font for every type of text within the anthology, even the page numbers.
  • Don’t assume that your choice of font must be fancy or familiar. I know, Comic Sans is a universal no-no in books, but that doesn’t mean an editor has to utilize Monotype Corsiva. Really go through the different fonts, not just the fonts you know so well like Arial, Times and Cambria. You may find the perfect one that you’ve never heard of.

Fonts give off a tone maybe more so than the actual content. Therefore, picking the right fonts for an anthology or any book is just as important as the cover art or title. This should not be stressful, despite its significance. Picking fonts – the many ways that text can be presented – should be a fun and enlightening experience revealing how many fonts there are. As editors, picking a font means literally bringing your book to life before it’s physically created. It’s the first glimpse into how your anthology will be seen by readers once it’s a physical book. The publishing process is tedious but should also be fun and amazing because an idea is being brought to life.

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