Times New Roman – why I try not to use it

man-with-glass-writing-at-desk-clerk-thank-you-card-paying-bills-dot-is-pen-ink-drawing[1]The Smashwords Style Guide indicates that when formatting your book to use the all-too-famous Times New Roman font. It’s the dream font, the golden ticket to getting things correct.  Mind you, it doesn’t say to use only that font or your book will be excluded from their premium catalog. It only gives it as a suggestion.

But I try not to use it anyway.

Why?  Elementary, my dear reader. Nooks, Kindles and possibly Nextbooks don’t use it. (I have no idea what my Nextbook uses; it won’t let me change the font settings to find out.) Why would I employ a font in my formatting that’s not going to get used in the first place? I’m not allowed to embed it – that would be considered distributing. It’s not in the reader systems to be found automatically by command. It’s silly to rely on it.

What font you use in your formatting is, in fact, largely irrelevant for the Smashwords system. Unless you’re uploading an epub (which you now can do providing it follows the Style Guide) you can’t embed a font for use. And all of the ereaders will go to their automatic default when they open that Smashwords book which calls for Times New Roman. In some cases that’s going to be Gill Sans, and in others that’s going to be Georgia. No two reader models are alike, they rarely even repeat fonts from one to another, and yes those fonts choices tend to be slightly unimaginative.

Okay so you feel a serif font like Times New Roman is easier to read as opposed to a sans-serif type like Gill Sans… but that’s not going to make a difference. Let me reiterate: in most cases Times New Roman is not there. It’s so that I’m left scratching my head wondering why Smashwords would recommend Times New Roman in the first place.

Well the obvious answer is because of all the authors out there who think Comic Sans is a nifty font – maybe it’s very nifty, but it’s also not very readable and often comes off as unprofessional. But even so, why not recommend Gills Sans or Trebuchet, both of which are in use with some ereaders? Possibly because not everyone’s computer may have Gill or Trebuchet installed, but they’re most likely to have Times. Except of that’s the case it’s just as logical to suggest Arial or maybe to give the readers a choice between the two fonts.

The darkest part of me suggests it’s a dark plot on the part of Mark Coker to drive me insane with authors who read the Style Guide and want their money back because I formatted using Helvetica. He sips wine at night in front of burning, black candles plotting my doom, watching the wax dribble down from the sheer heat of his onerous temper, while his vetter slaves tack away at Commodor 64 keys in the background.

While formatting, I’m doing things in such a way I get an idea of how things will look on your Nook, Kindle or even iPhone. This means I’m going to choose various fonts the readers use and not what Smashwords says to use. I’m going to use fonts that make sense – fonts I see when I test that file on my Nook Color. Fonts you will see when you sit down to read that book on your Kindle Paperwhite. And I’m not going to cater to just the newest reader models, either.

From time to time I’ll do a web search to see what fonts are in use. Tonight I found another possibility for the suggestion of Times New Roman – Apple iBooks uses Times New Roman, as well as:

  • Athelas
  • Charter
  • Georgia
  • Iowan
  • Seravek

At last we know where Times New Roman is in use. Some.

Well I don’t own an Apple anything. I can’t afford an Apple anything. It’s a big deal if I buy an apple, being as they give me intense heartburn. And last I checked, not everyone uses Apple. So my reasons still stand.

Currently my favorite fonts of choice are Gill Sans, Helvetica, and Caecelia. Caecelia and Helvetica are used by both Kindle AND the Nook. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone. If you have those fonts installed, you get to see what your book is going to look like (a little) when I’m done.

To wind this down, here is a list of fonts that are in use by other systems that are not Apple. They’re in no particular order, and I listed where they’re used by memory after compiling the list so I might have some of that part wrong. Still. It’s a good list in case you want to format your books in such a way you see how things are going to look the way I like to.

  • Caecelia (kindle, nook touch)
  • Helvetica (kindle, nook touch)
  • Baskerville (kindle paperwhite)
  • Futura (kindle)
  • Malabar (kindle paperwhite)
  • Gill Sans (nook touch,)
  • Amasis (nook touch)
  • Palatino (nook touch)
  • Trebuchet (nook touch)
  • Ascender Sans (nook color)
  • Dutch (nook color)
  • Georgia (nook color)
  • Century School Book (nook color)

… not seeing Times New Roman in there… anywhere… keep looking…..