Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Typography for Early Readers

One of the most important parts of your book design is the typography. Children learning to read are only familiar with basic letter forms and are taught to read black text on white background. This is an important thing to think about when designing your book. Use the illustrations and design elements to create the aesthetic you are after rather than an overly expressive typeface.

There are certain letter forms which are recommended for beginner readers. For example:

Make sure the typeface you use has the correct letter forms to make it easier to read. Sans serif fonts are more appropriate for children as they are closer to the way we learn to write therefore are easier to recognise the letters. Serif fonts are used in long blocks of text like novels and newspapers as they are designed to aid the flow of your eyes reading from left to right. Children's books have a limited amount of text and are not designed to be read a high speed therefore a serif font is not appropriate. Some fonts I recommend are:

AG Schoolbook™ BQ Font Family
Report School Font Family

These fonts are available from
Find your fonts

Limit the Number of Fonts
To keep your book looking professional and consistent try to only use 1-2 different typefaces/fonts throughout. If you use too many the book starts to look very messy and inconsistent. I would use a sans serif for the body of your story then another font that is more expressive for the title of the book. The title of the book can be more expressive as it is only a few words; however it must still be very legible as young readers are your market.

The size of the text depends on the level of the reader. I would never go any smaller than 12pt for a children's book and would recommend between 14-18pt with 16 to 22pt leading. Leading is the space in between the lines. It is important that the type is big with lots of white space around it so the reader can easily follow the line of text they are reading and separate the letterforms and words.

Other Things to Consider
Keep a lot of white space around the text. It is important that the child is able to concentrate on reading the text without being distracted by graphics or illustrations.

Read the text as you lay it out and split the lines accordingly. Try to eliminate any orphans (one word lines).

Do not hyphenate any words, as the reading level does not necessarily understand hyphenation yet and it is also a messy way to display your text.

Stick to black text on white background unless you know what you are doing. This is the main way we learn to read so it is easier for a child to switch into reading mode when the text follows this colour combination.

Make sure you are legally allowed to use the typeface you pick for commercial use. A lot of the free typefaces online are not legal to use in a commercial product like a book.

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