Michael Blaker’s Bookish Wednesday: Typography and You

Michael Blaker
Game Industry News is running the best blog posts from people writing about the game industry. Articles here may originally appear on Michael's blog, Windborne's Story Eatery.

Hey all, I’m back with the first entry in a new sort of topic to cover for this week’s Bookish Wednesday. It’s Typography and You!

New sort of topic?: Yeah, so I get asked what are the most important parts of getting into creating stories every so often. I figured I’d point out some really basic things that most authors miss or ignore and don’t really understand why they’re done the way they are. I don’t plan on doing this column topic regularly, but it should pop up from time to time. This week I’m doing some basic Typography that every aspiring writer should know.

Like what?: Well, the most important thing you can take from Typography, which is the study of the actual way the words look, i,e. the Font.

Why is Font important?: It’s a really, really basic thing that most new writers never learn, but knowing when you are using the proper font, beyond avoiding silly ones like Wingdings, is to know where and how your reader is going to read the story. If it’s going to be in a physical book, you’ll want to use a certain kind of font. But that same font is what you should absolutely avoid if the story is going to be presented in a digital format, like this column.

Which is which?: Thankfully, it’s a really simple distinction. For physical printed copies, you want to use Serif fonts like Times New Roman. Serifs are the little eye catch hooks you see on things like the New York Times logo on the ends of a letter. In physical format, it’s a great way of catching the eye and helping the reader get a smooth reading experience. A human’s eyes flow over a physical piece of paper easier with a Serif font. But that isn’t the case in a digital format like a forum or a website.

For some reason, the eyes actually flow easier while reading in a digital format if you are reading something that uses a Sans Serif font like Cambria. Using Serif Fonts on things like logos is okay, as you don’t actually want the reader to look away, but when reading an article on the web, it actually hurts the eye to read something written using a Serif font. It causes confusion. This is most easily noticed if you read faster than the average person, and it only gets worse the faster you can read. For someone like me, who can read at 65k+ words an hour, once I get going it’s a huge problem.

So, if you want to write a story and have it be successful, one of the most important things you need to know is what Font to use. It sounds super basic, and it is, but most writers don’t learn the why. Now you know.

That’s it for this week’s Bookish Wednesday. If this helps any aspiring writers, feel free to leave a comment below.

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