What’s the best interior font for your CreateSpace book? Generally, there are two factors that you should consider: aesthetics and effect on page count. This week, I’m test Cardo, a free-for-commercial-use font that has a few aesthetic advantages over the default Garamond.
The default font CreateSpace uses in their templates is Garamond, a fine font aesthetically. Here’s a closer look along with some stats for a standard book layout:
Garamond – The CreateSpace Default
Font Size: 11
Lines Per Page: 43
Words Per Page: 435
Line Spacing: Single
PDF Sample: WPPComparison_Garamond.pdf
If you feel like you’ve seen it before, you have. It’s used everywhere in books and magazines. It’s a bit wide, meaning you get fewer words per line and, subsequently, fewer words per page than might be possible with a narrower font. It’s also a fairly plain font, easy on the eyes but boring.
Using the standard margins in the 6″ x 9″ CreateSpace template (here’s a refresher on why I always go with 6″ x 9″, if you need it), Garamond 11pt allows for 43 lines per page, which grants a book a pleasant word density for reading. The best alternative to Garamond will be just as readable while packing more words per line and/or more lines on an average page.
For the record, I’m using a repeated 10-paragraph “Lorum ipsum” filler text for these tests and taking an average over 10 pages. Your results will vary somewhat in terms of actual word count, but the proportional differences between the different fonts should be the same regardless of the content of your book, so long as it is dense prose.
This week, the proposed alternative font is Cardo. Let’s dive right in.
Cardo is fairly similar to Garamond when looking up close, actually appearing a slightly heavier, but if you compare the two on a full page, it’s clear the Cardo is a bit more refined and delicate. It’s definitely a skinnier font than Garamond, but it’s also taller with long tails that prevent forcing the lines any closer together than a full single space.
The result is a significant drop in lines per page (43 vs. 39, or -9.3%) with a moderate drop in words per page (435 vs. 413, or -5.1%) even with a drop in point size from 11 to 10. You can drop Cardo down to 9pt and actually increase your words per page by around 20% compared to Garamond, but the result is slightly smaller than what would be considered comfortable by most readers.
Looking at specific letters, Cardo’s lines are more balanced than Garamond’s. Check out the capital “V.” The left arm is significantly thicker than the right for Garamond while the arms are a bit more even for Cardo. The same can be said about the legs of the capital “A” and the capital “M.” This increased balance on the micro level adds up to a page that appears much more even overall.
Verdict: Cardo is a solid choice aesthetically that will give your book a more refined and less generic look compared to the default Garamond. However, the 5% sacrifice in words per page grows in significance as page count increases, so be sure to take that into account if your book is several hundred pages long. If, however, you have the opposite problem and you’d like to make your book a little longer to hit a certain page count for the sake of appearances, Cardo is a great choice to stretch a 280-page book over the 300-page line.
Note: To get this exact look from the PDF samples for your page, you need to turn on the super secret “Do full justification the way WordPerfect 6.x for Windows does” option that I discussed in a previous post.
Thanks to FontSquirrel.com for their huge selection of fonts specifically selected because they are all free for commercial use. I’ll continue this series of posts in future weeks comparing additional freely available fonts to Garamond. Check back soon for more help with optimizing your CreateSpace book.