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Font Musings | May 25, 2007

As a copy and production editor, I pay very close attention to typefaces. At both the manuscript and proof stages, my life is made much easier when the body text is in a nice, clear serif font. Running heads, heads, and captions look better in a sans-serif face, and there should never be more than three fonts used in a given document or publication.

These issues came to mind last night as I read an article on Slate about various authors’ favorite fonts, inspired by the MoMA’s current exhibition devoted to Helvetica, that most classic of sans-serif fonts. I was pretty surprised to see that the perference was overwhelmingly for Courier or Courier New, fixed-width fonts from the early days of computer programming. Some people consider these fonts to be easier to read for editing, but something about them makes me miss the most basic and obvious errors. Maybe these faces are just so ugly that my eyes glaze over. A few authors earned points in my book for choosing Times Roman (hooray for Anne Fadiman!) or Century Schoolbook. Neither of those would be suitable for a typeset book, but they’re nice and clear for manuscript editing. I was pleased to see that nobody was so unprofessional as to choose a sans-serif for their manuscripts; I’ve had a few authors submit their MSS in Arial or something similar, and those were cruel reads.

So to my tiny band of readers: What are your favorite fonts for editing or typesetting?

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Posted in Style Sheet

7 Comments »

  1. Oh, good. I almost blogged about this, but forgot. The Courier people are a bunch of typewriter-worshiping weirdos. I always use Times New Roman, mostly because it’s the default in a lot of programs, but also because I’m just used to how many pages it takes up. I’m not wedded to it, though. My resume was in Century Schoolbook for a while, but it’s currently in Georgia.

    Comment by Hillary — May 28, 2007 @ 12:44 pm

  2. Yeah, TNR won’t win any beauty contests, but it’s readable and predictable. Courier is the pits. Garamond is nice for manuscripts, too. Legacy and Sabon are my favorites for typesetting.

    Comment by redsquirrel — May 28, 2007 @ 3:43 pm

  3. I love Legacy, but I tend a little toward the old-fashioned in my tastes for typeset stuff. Like Bembo. Man, Bembo is hot.

    Comment by Hillary — May 28, 2007 @ 4:02 pm

  4. Bembo is also very nice–Legacy may not be very old, but I think it has a very pretty, classic look.

    Comment by redsquirrel — May 28, 2007 @ 4:16 pm

  5. i like batang and bookman. i like batang because it sounds like shazam! batang! but maybe i’m lame and just misprouncing it.

    courier is harsh on the eyes. do i dare say that that courier is TOO old school for me?

    Comment by bethie — June 5, 2007 @ 9:18 pm

  6. No, I can’t stand Courier–deadly to read. Bookman is nice; I’m not familiar with Batang.

    Comment by redsquirrel — June 5, 2007 @ 9:50 pm

  7. Batang is a very nice font from Microsoft Word and perhaps not used a lot in the publishing world. Maybe I can try to change my font in yahoo and sent you a batang e-mail….

    Comment by bethie — June 6, 2007 @ 2:25 pm


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