Fonts- The Mood Enhancers
In the movie To Kill a Mockingbird, the soft, slow-rolling tones of the narrator's voice takes us back to 1930's Maycomb, AL, where time was slow and "there was nothing to buy and no money to buy it with."
The rough accent of the narrator in Goodfellas places us quickly in the brutal milieu of the mob, where we watch the narrator climb his way up the family business ladder.
The ideal typeface for a book is like the perfect narrator for a film: It draws the audience in and helps set the tone and style. "Every typeface has a personality," says Lisa Clark, a book designer whose work includes notable projects by the Harvard University Press of Godine Publishing.
"If you are doing a book on Lewis Hines' photographs, you might choose a typeface from the '20s or '30s," Clark suggests. "If I were doing poetry, I might choose Berkeley, for instance, because it's elegant and intimate and quiet."
Book publishers often find typeface selection important enough to acknowledge it on back pages. For example, publishers of the books Killing Time by Caleb Carr (Random House, 2000) and the Harry Potter series (Scholastic, 1999 and 2000) note that the books were set in Galliard and Adobe Garamond respectively. The nuances of typefaces are subtle, and, in different context and combinations, typefaces offer different messages. Still, in general, many designers would agree, for example, that:
Galliard Roman, designed in 1978 by Matthew Carter, with its chiseled look, curving serifs and balanced proportions, is classic and elegant.
The sans-serif Helvetica Regular, designed in the 1950s by Max Meidinger, offers a clean simplicity that makes it suitable for a wide range of products.
The no-nonsense serif Times Roman, which first appeared in 1932 and was designed under the direction of Stanley Morison for London's The Times, is balanced and has few striking features. It is often labeled bland, but it is serviceable for a wide range of subject matter, nonetheless.