Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Beyond Comic Sans: 11 free fonts handpicked for children's book interiors


Have you fallen into the Comic Sans trap?

Comic Sans was considered a great font when it was first released in 1994.  But over the years, it’s gotten tired.  These days, many indie authors use and recommend it as a good font for kids’ books, because it’s clear and easy to read.  But it will brand you as an amateur more quickly than almost anything else.

I’m sure you recognize this – right?


Here are some great choices of alternative fonts you can use – and they’re all free, so there’s no excuse.

Before we start, you should know the difference if you don’t already between Serif and Sans-Serif fonts.  Serifs are those doo-hickeys you always see hanging off the letters.  The four classic fonts that usually come with Microsoft Word are Times New Roman (Serif), Cambria (Serif), Arial (Sans-Serif) and Calibri (Sans-Serif).  Here’s what they look like:


Whatever you do, don’t use ANY of these fonts in your kids’ book.  Children might not recognize them, but parents sure will.  Using these fonts guarantees that your book will look like you ran it off on your printer at home… instead of having it professionally designed and printed.

As long as you’re avoiding these built-in, tired fonts, whether you choose Serif or Sans-Serif is usually a matter of personal taste.  I’ve included 8 serif fonts in my list and 3 sans-serif.

Another mistake writers often make is choosing a font that looks like a kid actually WROTE the words.  That’s a no-no.  Just because your book is FOR children doesn’t mean they want to struggle with print that isn’t clear.


Typographic consultant Ilene Strizver recommends choosing a font with a “warm, friendly design with simple, open letter shapes.”   She also suggests that for the youngest readers, you choose fonts with the simpler (one-storey) version of character shapes like “a” and “g” that come in more complex versions for grown-ups.

For a font kids and adults will both enjoy reading – because it gets your message across as smoothly as possible – avoid the most common mistakes and choose one of these 11 fonts instead.

Serif Fonts

These are the fonts WITH doohickeys, by far the most common in the literary typographical world.  I’ve included links for all the fonts wherever I could.  If you can’t find the exact font either by clicking through or Googling, try visiting this related post, also at my site, to see if I’ve listed a similar font with a link.


Sans-Serif Fonts

Don’t be scared by the scarcity of sans-serif fonts I’ve listed here.  For certain books, they are exactly the thing to make your message pop.  They’re also ideal for early readers, because their letter shapes are open, pristine and inviting to kids just learning about the magic of reading.  NOTE:  All these fonts are standard Windows or Microsoft Word fonts – if you don’t have these on your system, click through to this post (also on my site) to find equivalent or similar sans serif fonts.


  • Century Gothic (comes with MS Windows, I think)
  • Gill Sans (comes with MS Windows, I think)
  • Segoe UI (comes with MS Windows or MS Word)

Remember, when it comes time to add titles and chapter headings to your book, you’ll want to pair up text fonts with heading (or display) fonts for maximum impact.  Just like choosing a skirt and a sweater, the potential for clashing is enormous.  But the ultimate look you end up with totally depends on your choosing the right combination. 

Try this guide to ten FREE font pairings for children’s books to make the decision a no-brainer.  You’ll also find a bunch more text fonts that didn’t make this page’s list.  I love them all – and there are SO many great fonts out there to choose from. 

That means there’s no excuse for Comic Sans these days.  Pick a better font and help readers fall in love with your words.

More essential advice when it comes to children’s books and fonts or design:


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