Best Fonts For Your Book: Understanding Typography

How to choose the right fonts for your book or work

For those of you who feel less than skilled when it comes to visual design, typography is your secret weapon.

Typography is a surprisingly easy way to create lots of visual appeal and add that extra polish to your work without having to learn all about page layout and graphic design.

If you spend any amount of time trying to learn about typography, you’ll notice it’s a much debated topic among design professionals (designers can be quite an opinionated group)!

Don't let this scare you away.

In this tutorial post, we're going to give you the basic principals you need to understand how to pair different fonts and some examples pairings to get you started. While most tutorials cover way too much information about the history and minutiae of a particular font, we know all that information isn’t useful or actionable when it comes to designing your book. 

When it comes to typography, it need not be complicated.

Book Fonts & Pairings Simplified

Here’s what you need to know:

For our purposes, you’re going to think about fonts in two different categories: text and display.


Text fonts are for larger chunks of text like the body of your book. The goal is readability above all else. 

choosing the right fonts and font pairings for your content

The two basic choices for text font are serif and sans-serif.

Serif fonts have little serifs, or tails, on them as you can see in the top half of the image image to your left.

  • Serif fonts are often considered better used for body copy, as the serifs act as trails or pointers that lead the eye from character to character. This can reduce eye strain and make the reading a little smoother.

Sans-serif fonts (“sans” meaning “without”) do not have the tails.

  • Sans-serif fonts can also work well for body copy, but because they lack the serifs, they often appear to be closer to together. This, if not done well, can make for eye strain and tough reading. So generally the sans-serif fonts are bumped up in size a bit, to increase legibility.

Personally, I find that as long as the font size is adequate, serif and sans-serif fonts work equally well and the choice comes down to preference.      


Display fonts are what you will use for chapter and section titles, headlines, block quotes, and any other type of text you’d like to draw attention to within your work. The goal is to evoke a feeling and add visual interest to the page. 

Display fonts are usually larger than regular text, more decorative, shorter in sentence length, and/or colored. 

Generally speaking, your options here are endless. We’ll go over a few suggestions in the pairing section below. 

Choosing Fonts

The easiest way to avoid amateur mistakes is to pick one of three strategies: 

Strategy 1: Pick one text font and use it for everything

Some text font families are extremely versatile because they include lots of different weights. 

best fonts for book covers

What is a weight?

Weight refers to how heavy or light the text will appear. This basically means “thickness” and can include labels such as: hairline, thin, light, medium, regular, semibold, bold, heavy, black, and ultra. The image to the right shows an example of Helvetica Neue in various different weights.

This is an excellent way to avoid the fear of pairing two fonts that don’t match. The font is the same (and therefore will certainly match), you’re just using a larger size and/or different weight for your display font. 

Strategy 2: Choose a font family with a serif and a sans serif; use one for the display and one for text

best fonts pairing for books

This is another easy strategy to avoid the fear of pairing the wrong fonts. Again, because they are the same family, they most certainly match. Choose the sans-serif for the display font and the serif for the text font. 

Or the other way around. Whichever you prefer, both work perfectly well.

Strategy 3: Pick one display font and one text font 

Use one display font for all your chapter titles, headlines, block quotes etc. and your text font for everything else. Make use of italics to diversify your text font for example, captions under images. 

Pairing Fonts 

So how do you know if two fonts go together? 

The truth is, there are no hard and fast rules about combining fonts, which makes the process of pairing them time-consuming and maybe even a little exhausting. Instead, just avoid the following blunders and you’ll likely pick a winning combination:

Pick two different fonts (i.e. they shouldn’t look “similar”)

Using two similar fonts is a waste and can make your design look amateur built. Why use two similar fonts, when one font will do? If you take to two-font path, make it count! 

Don’t use two highly decorative fonts

Remember the goals of each type of font (display vs. text). The goal of text font is readability, while the goal of the display font is to stand out. It can’t stand out if it’s competing with a decorative text font. This will not only make your design look amateurish, it will look cluttered and illegible as well. Stick to one decorative font and one text font! 

Can you read one more easily than the other?

If you can’t read it, it doesn’t matter. First try bumping up the size a bit. Next, try playing with the font weight. Still can’t read it? Then get rid of it and try something new. A great way to test this is to try squinting at the screen. Can you see a visual hierarchy? 

Best Font Pairings: Some Inspirations and Examples

Futura / Bodoni 

Minion / Gill Sans

Bodoni / Futura

Myriad / Minion

iBooks Author - Full Screen Images Step By Step

How to create full screen images in iBooks Author. 

In this iBooks Author tutorial, I'm going to show you three different ways to create a full screen image within the iBooks Author application. 

One of the neat features of an interactive book for the iPad is the ability to take advantage of the beautiful retina display by showcasing full screen images or by making small images pop up fullscreen with a tap. Even better, is the ability to zoom in and out of a picture. 

There are three ways you can do this and I'm going to walk you through each to decide which is the best solution for you. Here they are:

  • Tap-to-view image full screen
  • Full screen background image from your photos
  • Full screen background image using a shape

Tap-To-View Image Full Screen

One of the most common questions we get asked is how to make a smaller image pop-up full screen when tapped. Our templates already have this integrated in, but here's how you can do it for additional images: 

  1. Select the image
  2. Open the Inspector
  3. Go to the Widget tab (very last one that looks like a brown folder)
  4. Select interaction toggle
  5. Check the "Maximize on tap or click" box
Inspector tab ibooks author tutorial
tap to view image full screen in ibooks author

Note: if this box is 'greyed' out and you can't select it, make sure you've selected the image first.

Full Screen Background Image From Your Photos

Let's say I wanted to create an image that was already a full screen background image.

  1. Here's what i would need to do:
  2. Find the photo you wish to insert
  3. Drag and drop it into your iBook
  4. Go to the Metrics tab in the inspector
  5. Resize proportion to 1024 width and 748 height, x = 0 and y =0

You'll notice that you can resize it using the white boxes on the actual image. Or you can resize the photo within the inspector under the Metrics tab. If you want to maintain proportions, keep the "contain proportions" tab checked. This will mean you need to have already resized it to match. 

ibooks author image tutorial
display image full screen

Full Screen Background Image Using A Shape

The final option allows you to use a shape to insert an image. This is beneficial for two reasons: you can choose interesting shapes (like a star or circle) to mask your image and you can also do interesting things like have the image tile or stretch to fill a shape.

Here's what you need to do:

  1. Go to the shape tool and select a shape
  2. Go to the Metrics tab in the inspector 
  3. Resize proportion to 1024 width and 748 height, x = 0 and y =0
  4. Select the Graphic tab
  5. Go to fill and select image fill
  6. Select Scale to Fill (or other option if you want to play)
ibooks author full screen images
image display ibooks author themes

The template used in this example was the Retina Template. Go check all our iBooks Author Templates here.

How to share your book with friends (not in the iBookstore)

iBooks Author is the most powerful digital authoring tool available.

ibooks author tutorials

When iBooks Author launched in January 2012, most people were talking about textbooks and novels. But during the demo at Apple Inc. it was clear that iBooks is capable of so much more…

Imagine a representative of sales visiting a client and using the iPad to show off the company’s portfolio of products. Imagine a paper brochure being replaced by a digital catalogue complete with videos and interactive elements that make the product really shine. Imagine a product instruction manual that someone will actually read and understand what to do next.

The possibilities are endless.

If you've created a book that you don't want to sell in the iBookstore, here is the easiest way to share it:

  1. First, create your book in iBooks Author.
  2. Then, on the Apple menu bar, select “Share.” There, you will see two options: Send via email, and Export.
  3. You'll see a “Send via email” option with three other choices below: iBooks Author for Mac, iBooks for iPad, and PDF.  Whichever you choose, you will be brought to an email window. (Note: the file will be significantly larger if you choose to send it for iBooks Author for Mac or iBooks for iPad. The PDF is the smallest file choice).
  4. Click “Proceed.” The file will already be attached, and you’ll just need to enter an email address, your subject, and a message if you wish. 
  5. You can also choose to simply export the file on your computer, and then share it with a client by other means. Through this option, you can export the file as an iBooks file for the iPad, as a PDF, or as a text file. Simply choose whichever option you prefer, click next, choose where you’d like to save the file, and click export. It will export very quickly to wherever you save it. From there, you can transfer it to a friend’s computer with an external hard drive, flash drive, or by uploading it online. You could even share via a cloud service like Dropbox.

You are all set! Now you can share your portfolio or deliver your client’s photos in a completely new and engaging way. Are you taking advantage of the possibilities? Let us know in the comments below!