A book cover is more than an image, it’s also text that must stand out while using a font that works with the image and the story. You can’t throw any old font on the cover and call it a day, you need to think about where it’s placed, and how easy it is to read. Remember, the font you choose for your title is as much a design consideration as the cover image, so be thoughtful while choosing one and using it.
This may sound a bit daunting, but it’s not. To make the right choices for font, placement, and design, all you need to do is ask yourself three simple questions.
Is it easy to read?
Believe it or not but there are some fonts that are too stylized to be legible. You may think an Old English font would work great for your sword and sorcery novel, but think again. Overly stylized fonts, like anything that uses calligraphy, are the most difficult to read. They are simply too ornate. If you use one, try to keep it to a minimal. Consider using it only for the first letter in the title. You never want a person to stare at your book because they can’t read the cover.
Look at books similar to yours and check out the font they use, then find one that’s similar. There are lots of easy to read fonts that will work for any time period or genre.
Does the font disappear in the background?
So you have your font and decided on a color that will work well with the image, but it sometimes blends into the background. No matter where you place it, a portion of the font gets lost. You could go on a hunt for a different color, but that would be a headache. You’re better off solving the problem with a simple design choice. Go to the layer for the font in your your layout program (I use Photoshop, but there are a host of others to choose from) and add a style to your font. I find the best two style choices are Stroke and Drop Shadow.
Stroke will add a border around your font, while a Drop Shadow will add a shadow. Your design software will allow you to adjust the shadow and or stroke so it looks the way you want.
Here are some covers I designed using stroke, drop shadow and a combination of the two. Feel free to click or tap on them to make them larger.
Are the letters too close together?
You can just set the title where you want, add a stroke so it doesn’t get lost in the background and be done with it, but are the letters bunched up? Do they look claustrophobic? Would the title look better stretched out? You can fix any of these problems by adjusting the tracking to separate the letters a bit.
What is the tracking? The tracking is the space between the letters. The tracking can usually be found in the Character pallet or tile in your layout program.
The effect you get from adjusting the tracking is subtle, and can be the difference between a cover that’s good and one that’s great. I suggest you play with it and see for yourself.
So there you have it, a simple guide to using fonts on your book covers. Let me know if you have questions in the comments below.