A Font Fixation

Did you know different fonts can have different effects on readers?

As a writer, I’m well aware that most agents and editors prefer manuscripts be submitted in 12 pt. Times New Roman (a few years ago it was 12 pt. Courier), presumably because that’s easiest on the eyes when reading for hours at a time.

My kindle’s text is set to display in Bookerly for no other reason than it sounded like a good bookish choice. The other options don’t inspire my confidence. Like Baskerville, for instance. That might be ideal for reading the horror genre, but for me it conjures up the wrong images for memoir or sweet romance. Then again, I shouldn’t mock it as I’ve recently learned the font was named for its creator, John Baskerville, who designed it in 1794. “Baskerville is categorized as a transitional typeface in-between classical typefaces and the high contrast modern faces.” Hmmm … okay. I guess it doesn’t have anything to do with hounds.

Elsewhere, I read, “For anyone who uses a word processor … a favourite font can be an identity marker as salient as an outfit or a hairstyle. It can communicate formality or a more laid-back mood. Beyond that, it can illustrate the nuances of the user’s personality.”

I wish I didn’t know that! Now I will be examining every communication I send out, wondering what the recipient might learn about me, not from the contents of my document, but from the font I used. Eep!

Working on the church’s website, or on worship videos, font choices take on a different kind of importance, needing to convey words of comfort, quickly readable music lyrics or invitations that appeal to various age groups. Fortunately, I can breathe easy while blogging, knowing that my font choices here are predetermined by WordPress. That’s pretty much true across all the social media platforms.

One thing I’ve learned through experience is the usefulness of using a different font when proofreading draft manuscripts. I can read through a chapter repeatedly, only to keep discovering new errors. If I ‘select all’ and assign a different font to that chapter before reading it again, my overworked brain gains a fresh vantage point and is more alert to typos and uninspiring text. I don’t think my brain cares which new font I choose for the task as long as it doesn’t resemble the original. Now that I know my choice says something about me, I may be more picky about which one I use — though not many people are likely to have access to one of my unproofed drafts. And, of course, before sending it out on submission, I will be sure to double-check that I’ve returned all the text to that stodgy preferred Times New Roman.


There! Consider yourself enlightened on all my font-ish thoughts. Do you have a preferred font to use in your writing? Does it change, depending on what kind of writing you’re doing?


Published by Carol

A freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction living on the West Coast of Canada.

2 thoughts on “A Font Fixation

  1. I use Georgia in my manuscripts and Times in most everything else. I have difficulty reading some of the fonts used in blogs, so I’m conscious of my choices. I like the idea of changing the fonts so I can easily see the typos and errors. Great idea.

    1. I also find reading the ms aloud helps me pick up typos and other such errors. Now, if I could just find a way to avoid making them in the first place, that would speed up the process immensely. LOL.

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