How to Get a Cheap Cover – Part X

(I’ve been running a series on my MySpace blog called “Adventures in Indie Publishing” where I tell everyone how I made a muck up of it all so that they don’t have to.  At the moment I’m exploring “How to Get a Cheap Cover” and, after a suggestion from Ruth, I decided to post it here as a series )

The font – or typography – on your cover can be just as important as the picture you chose. I’ve seen covers that would have been brilliant had the font worked well, but instead were only mediocre.

So, where do you find a font? Well, there are a lot of “free” font sites out there, but my favorite is They have a great variety, it’s neatly organized into categories, the fonts are labeled with their individual licenses in the preview pane and, even cooler, you can choose the text you want displayed in the previews.

When I was looking for a font for my cover, I knew I wanted a serif font. Wait, Serif font? That’s a font like times new roman that has the little bits on the ends of the letters. This blog explains it with a great illustration: .

So, anyway, I wanted a serif font that was close to times new roman and was in all capital letters. So, I hopped onto Dafont and….

covers 2

Now you’ll see there are different kinds of Licenses on the fonts: Free for Personal Use (this means you can do what you want with it so long as it’s for yourself, like personal webpages, gift labels, etc), Free (this should mean free for all, but you should always check the website of the font creator, or the read me file included in the zip file you download to make sure they mean free for commercial use), Shareware (which allows you to use the font for free as an evaluation, but you need to eventually pay for it) and Public Domain (which literally means not copyrighted).

Remember, even if it says Free you should still check the website or read me file. I’ve found fonts before that were labeled free, but then their technical information said that in order to use it for anything that you received payment for you had to notify them and send them a free copy of the product.  The font I used – Optimus Princepts – has the stipulation that if I make any real money off of it I should donate some to a charity. However, I haven’t made any yet, so….

Picking Just the Right Font:

So, even looking at only the free fonts, how do we know what font is THE font? A lot of it comes down to the gut feeling. “Does it look right?” If it doesn’t, then that’s not the font you want. But, I’m going to try to give you some design pointers.

1. You will probably want to use two fonts on your cover – one for your title and the other for the author name or tag line. You could even use three fonts, so long as they really go together, but any more than that will make your cover look too chaotic.

2. That really cool, twibbly font may look awesome, but can you READ it? You want people to be able to read the title and author name easily.  If they have to squint to figure it out, you’ve failed. Covers should impart information quickly, so a simple font is best, even for a “fancy” cover. There are plenty of clear, easy to read fonts that have some extra loops or swirls.

3. If you must use that super swirly, twirly font then try using it for the capital letters of the books title only, ala illuminated manuscripts of the medieval period. This will give people half a chance at reading the rest of it.

4. Don’t mix too many different kinds of fonts. For instance brush script would look horrible with a futuristic, bubble font.  Use only one dressy font and then use very plain fonts for your other(s). You only want one to really grab their attention; if they’re all trying to stand out at the same time then it will just be a confusing mess.
5. One way to give the illusion of mixed fonts, without having to actually use more than one is to take advantage of bold and italics.  of course, don’t go overboard.

Once you have your font(s) chosen then download, unzip and install.  If you don’t know how to do that, then this guy shows you how:

some more handy links!

serif/sans serif explained:
how to install fonts:

find fonts:
dafont :
1001 free fonts:
Urban :

Manfred Klein: (all free for commercial use)

Larabie Fonts:

Typodermic Fonts (some are free, some cost)

Ultimate font download for $30.00

Does anyone else have any good font resources?


  1. I don’t have any font resources, but you gave me a good idea about using a different font for my name and the title. Great information, Jo. And thanks for explaining that “free” doesn’t necessarily mean “free”. Hopefully, you’ll need to give money to charity. 😉

    1. yeah, it’s often surprising ho “free” means “free for what i say you can use it for”. I’ve found a lot of brushes/picture tubes etc for art programs that have insane stipulations, down to what kind of art you can use their brushes on. needless to say I don;t keep nay of those! LOL!

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