The Complete Guide in Choosing Book Cover Fonts (Part 1)

Font can make or break your book cover, so you should choose carefully. This complete guide will help you get started.

Monica Dube |

Book cover fonts can make or break your book cover, so you should choose carefully. This complete guide will help you how to choose a font for a book cover.

We already wrote about how important it is to get your book design right: first impressions count, as you might not get a second chance. See some professional book cover examples and read more about 3D covers here.

Just because you are not likely to fonts, they still matter. You can hire the best photographer or artist to create your book cover picture, but if you don’t get your typography right, your book may look out of place within its genre.

In this article, we guide you through the process of choosing the best font for your cover with some examples using creative book cover fonts.

General rules for book cover fonts

How to get fonts and what (not) to do with them

Make sure your font is free to use, or pay for the one you really need. You definitely wouldn’t want somebody to just use your book however they like – neither typographers. Make sure you read the small print and check if the font is free to use for commercial purposes.

Most typefaces come with a built-in theft check feature: you can use them on your computer, but cannot embed them into a pdf (and that is needed for your cover to look the same on every computer and even in print).

f you are not sure, you can find out who owns the font (it can be the graphic designer or a company) and ask them to clarify. There are a variety of commercial fonts and sometimes you might have to purchase one, but free ones are out there too (which we list at the end of this read).

Aim big

There are two different categories of typefaces: text or display. Some fonts are designed for several blocks of written body text. They work best between 6pt and 14pt (points) and some fonts are designed to look better while displaying a message, creating a certain feeling or impression. They draw attention and work well when used in larger sizes.

Many fonts have both text and display variants: they look the same at first, but the important difference lies in the small details. The fonts.com website brings a perfect example of a font that has a text, a display, and a banner variation. The display version seems much lighter.

(Source: fonts.com)

When it comes to titles, size matters. You want your short or long title to be legible even in a thumbnail. Once you are confident that it looks good, be sure to view it in thumbnail size: around 100px.

Treat your typeface with care

Do not stretch the fonts or try to change them in any other way. These fonts are carefully designed to look perfect (as a text or as a block), so if you disorientate them, they look bad. Most fonts come with different weights, more than just simple bold or italic; if your font can’t do what you want from it, use a different one.

There is an area where it's like you'd have to manipulate your font: the kerning. Spacing between the letters is important for aesthetical reasons. It's also important because poor kerning cause letters or even words to mess up.

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Placement

If you want your book cover design to stand out and to be unique, the simplest typeface will do the trick. In the following, we show you great book cover examples where the uniqueness lies not in the selection per se, but in other typographic solutions.

Try playing around with different versions of the same font for author and title. The Light Between Oceans shows the same font used for the author’s name as for the title. Small, weightless words, like “the” is well played out with cursive or a different case. They also played with colors: the title is yellow which resembles light.

The Kawasaki cover is also simple: one typeface, two main colors, some italic. That answers how many fonts on a book cover. (But note that the rules are different for non-fiction book covers; more on this with examples later.)

The designer play with space: the emptiness creates the illusion of lightness for the origami butterfly. The added review pieces could also bring extra attention if you keep them subtle enough. Us and Look Who’s Back are perfect examples of how a well-placed title and original typography can be the fundamental (or the only!) element of a cover.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and try different alignments. As you already see from the examples above, no strict rules are defining the placement of the author and title. The author’s name can be at the top or the bottom, the title can either be at the top, center or bottom.

The most important element is to harmonize your cover image, your genre, and your style. For inspiration and good examples, check your favorite bestselling books, go to a bookstore or just search “beautiful covers” (as you most certainly already did).

The best advice we can give you on this topic is the following: use the main tropes of your genre to guide your readers and help them discover you. Based on the cover, they have to be able to guess what to expect when opening your book, or it should be tempting enough to be interested in it. And then hook them up with something that is special and makes you stand out from the thousands of other books on your submarket.

Book title font generator

Book title font generators could be an easy and great way to test many different fonts and settings without actually having to download and install the fonts on your computer - just for testing though.

Do not use any effect either. If you want your title to be written in the style of Stranger Things, there are websites that can do the trick, but it can also be illegal. The 1001 fonts website is worth mentioning. It is not a generator, but it lets you use your own text when previewing the fonts, which is rather useful.

Book cover fonts by genre

Check out Derek Murphy to see his compilation of hundreds of fonts into genre themed pictures. In the following, we help you to find the most beautiful book cover fonts by genre with great examples.

Non-fiction book cover fonts

The least we can give is a simple rule: use sans-serif font. Most professional designers do for non-fiction. The serif or sans serif typeface suggests modernity and honesty. They look straightforward and professional – and this is exactly how you would like to be perceived when publishing non-fiction.

Cookbooks, self-help books and academic anthologies all work well with sans-serif. A handwritten title looks very well on biographies if balanced out with the author’s name in sans-serif and the title is still legible.

The first font we tried out is Route 159, free for commercial use. The package contains light, regular, bold, heavy and italic versions and a combination of these; we chose heavy. A font like this works very well even if used in inverse, putting a pattern under them on a blank cover.

Widolte light is not one of the free fonts, therefore you can only see the demo version. We used this simple type to show a bad example of placement: if your title resembles a humming top, change something.

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Horror book cover fonts

Book cover fonts - fantasy is a fun one and when it comes to typefaces, a bit of fading, some blood drops or fangs can add some spookiness to your horror cover. Don’t overdo it, though: if the font has some letters with additional drawing, it only looks good if the letter doesn’t repeat within the title (examples below). Depending on which age your horror is set in, goth fonts can work very well.

Cocaine Sans is a great font that's free to use.

Nightmare 5 fades and has a grunge quality, but is still easy to read, and has a bit of playfulness. It is free for private use but must purchase for commercial use.

The Kevin Brockmeier book is an excellent example of the typeface being unnoticeable. The placement draws your attention to the middle of the picture, so at first, you might not even notice what is so spooky about this cover. The title is in all capitals and simple sans-serif, combined with the author’s name in serif - common in horror.

Horror covers usually use dark backgrounds and “spiky” decorations, tall fonts, just like on the cover of the Palahniuk book. This cover is a fantastic example of how a good font supports the cover picture.

In part 2, we cover comic book cover fonts, romance book cover fonts, sci-fi book cover fonts, fantasy book cover fonts, children’s book cover fonts, and a list of fonts we recommend for you.