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I am typesetting my first book. I am using Computer Modern for the font. I am trying to decide which font to use for the covers/dust jacket.

I took a look at a number of similarly formatted books, and they all seem to use sans serif fonts for the cover, even if they are typeset with serif fonts in the body. Is there a good reason—aesthetic or otherwise—why one should use a sans serif font (e.g., CMSS) over regular CMR for the cover?

Backstory: My university has, in my opinion, an incredibly ugly format that is required for all Masters and Ph.D. theses. Double spaced, single sided, letter paper, small margins, single column ... it just looks terrible. For my Ph.D. dissertation I of course used the required formatting for the archival versions that go to the university library, however, I also created my own style file that I think looks a lot better. I am going to use my "prettier" format for printing copies of my dissertation for my advisors, friends, family, &c. The book binder I am using allows me to customize the cover of the book.

Disclaimer: I realize this question isn't specifically related to (La)TeX, however, it is realted to typesetting; I hope it is not off topic!

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3 Answers 3

up vote 19 down vote accepted

I think the KOMA documentation puts it very nicely, when describing which title is created using \maketitle and how it differs from the book cover:

A cover is actually something that should be created in a separate document. The cover often has a very individual format. It can also be designed with the help of a graphics or DTP program. A separate document should also be used because the cover will be printed on a different medium, possibly cardboard, and possibly with another printer.

This means: the layout/formatting of the main document has absolutely no bearing on the layout and formatting of the cover.

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1  
Very good answer indeed :-) –  Joseph Wright Sep 14 '10 at 15:52
    
Thanks, that is what I had assumed. The gist of my question, though, was whether or not certain fonts work better for the cover (regardless of which font is used for the main body). I seem to recall reading some studies, for example, about the readability of certain fonts for signage. That may be a bit too off topic for this forum, however. –  ESultanik Sep 14 '10 at 16:30

I wonder if your collection of books all come from a single source with a certain house style? It doesn't match my experience.

I current have 14 books sitting on my desk. Of those, 4 have sans serif typefaces for the printing on their covers, and 10 have serif typefaces on their covers.

I'm no expert, but I can't think of any reason why covers ought to use sans fonts; perhaps some people do it because it is one place where sans fonts do look appropriate, and they want some variety.

Computer Modern Roman doesn't seem like a great title font to me personally, but I think that's just a matter of taste. It's your book; if you like it, go for it.

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On my desk right now I have Springer, Princeton U. Press, Prentice Hall, and Dover books; all use Sans on the cover and Serif in the body. –  ESultanik Sep 14 '10 at 16:26

From the KOMA-Script manual:

There is a rule in typography which states that one should mix as few fonts as possible. Using sans serif for headings already seems to be a breach of this rule. However, one should know that bold, large serif letters are much to heavy for headings. Strictly speaking, one would then have to at least use a normal instead of a bold or semi bold font. However, in deeper levels of the structuring a normal font may then appear too lightly weighted. On the other hand, sans serif fonts in headings have a very pleasant appearance and in fact find acceptance almost solely for headings. That is why sans serif is the carefully chosen default in KOMA - Script.

(though I must add that I hate how serif and sans-serif paragraphs are mixed in the KOMA-Script manual itself.)

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I don't think any of this applies to covers/dust jackets. –  Hendrik Vogt Dec 24 '10 at 12:30
    
You are right, but I think that the case here is similar with chapter/section headings and covers. The catch is that you should not worry too much about having only one typeface across your document. –  Federico Poloni Dec 26 '10 at 23:50

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