Pointless point sizes

This is a post that is meant mostly for authors looking to self-publish their first book using a DIY service such as Create Space, and it has to do with that pointless bit of insanity that is commonly known to as point sizes.

Let me show you what I mean:

a dozen font samplesNow what do these twelve samples have in common?

The answer, believe it or not, is that they are all supposed to be the same size. Yes, you read that right, they are all supposed to be at 16 pt (or at least they were before they got turned into an image). In fact there are fonts that are both bigger and smaller than the ones I used in this example, but I figured that these would do to get my point across.

The thing is that if you want to get these to look more or less the same size for whatever reason you would have to make the following changes (here I picked four fonts, the first and last, plus two that are a common choice when it comes to a book’s interior layout):

font size comparisonSo much for the reliability of that point size as a reference. This means that when you think about your book’s interior layout you should separate these two concepts, pick your typeface first, and then settle on a font size… and please remember that chances are that your book won’t be printed on full sized letter/A4/legal paper. That means that the old standard (dating back to the good old days of typewriters) that says that a page should be printed in a 12/14 point font and double spaced does not apply. In fact, if you are dealing with a work of fiction that is meant for an adult or even young adult audience, you may want to go with something like a 10/12 point font size (depending on your choice of typeface) with an interlineation of 1.2/1.3. If your target audience is under the age of 10/12 you may want to increase that font size a little (one or two points per year should do).

Okay, I know this one came out of the blue, but I figured this was one that maybe would spare someone some headaches.

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