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Old 02-24-2012, 06:54 AM   #1
vootie
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Best font stack?

I'm creating an ePub with InDesign 5.5, to be distributed to the stores supported by BookBaby, except for Amazon., which I'll do directly. I want to use a safe serif font for the body text and a safe one for the heads and subheads. What is the best practice for defining the font stack in the style sheet? Should I specifiy several of those supported by the various readers and then conclude with generic serif or sans serif? Is there an ideal stack for the Kindle versus other eReaders?

Thanks

Chris
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Old 02-24-2012, 07:34 AM   #2
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It's best not to define a general body text font, at all. Headers, sub-headers and special text, sure... if you want. But unless your text contains special characters that can't be displayed with normal fonts, then you should probably let the reader (the device or the user attached to it) decide the body text font that they prefer.

Last edited by DiapDealer; 02-24-2012 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:00 AM   #3
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Charis SIL is a very nice font to use and it's the font used by most publishers when they embed fonts as it's free. This is the code to use Charis such that it will work and still allow readers that can change fonts to do so.

Put the fonts directory in the same place as the stylesheet. So if you have OEBS/style.css then you want OEBS/fonts/.

Code:
@font-face {
  font-family: serif;
  font-weight: normal;
  font-style: normal;
  src: url(fonts/CharisSILR.ttf)
}
@font-face {
  font-family: serif;
  font-weight: bold;
  font-style: normal;
  src: url(fonts/CharisSILB.ttf)
}
@font-face {
  font-family: serif;
  font-weight: normal;
  font-style: italic;
  src: url(fonts/CharisSILI.ttf)
}
@font-face {
  font-family: serif;
  font-weight: bold;
  font-style: italic;
  src: url(fonts/CharisSILBI.ttf)
}
body {
  font-family: serif;
  widows: 0;
  orphans: 0;
  margin-top: 0;
  margin-bottom: 0;
  margin-left: 0;
  margin-right: 0;
  text-align: justify
}
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:07 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DiapDealer View Post
It's best not to define a general body text font, at all.
+1

embedding fonts into epub is just unnecessary bloat
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:11 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frostschutz View Post
+1

embedding fonts into epub is just unnecessary bloat
Some readers such as ADE for Windows don't have the ability to change fonts and the default font is ugly. Plus you don't get true italics. So while you think it may be bloat, it's not really as it makes the text look nicer.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:25 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
Some readers such as ADE for Windows don't have the ability to change fonts and the default font is ugly. Plus you don't get true italics. So while you think it may be bloat, it's not really as it makes the text look nicer.
It makes it nicer in bad readers, whereas in well designed readers (those that let you choose your preferred font) it looks worse (from the user's perspective, since he can't choose the font anymore).
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Old 02-24-2012, 11:32 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
So while you think it may be bloat
I don't *think* it's bloat, it *IS* bloat.

Fonts should be provided by the reader, not embedded separately in every book. All it serves is make the files bigger. The Charis SIL font is 6.5MB large (3MB compressed), that's several time the size of a regular book with cover.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
it makes the text look nicer.
If you want the text to look nicer, you should spend your time and effort on clean consistent formatting, as well as on the text itself (grammar, spelling, ...). Overloading your book with fancy fonts and styles does not help, quite the opposite. With ebooks, simpler formatting actually tends to look better.
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Old 02-24-2012, 11:43 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jellby View Post
It makes it nicer in bad readers, whereas in well designed readers (those that let you choose your preferred font) it looks worse (from the user's perspective, since he can't choose the font anymore).
Not so. If you do it the way I have shown, then readers that allow font changing will still work to change the font. Notice I used serif instead of the font name. Thus means that it's not overriding the font changing systems. Using the font name could very well override such. So with my example, you still have a better default font and you have the ability to change the font is the reader software allows.
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Old 02-24-2012, 11:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frostschutz View Post
I don't *think* it's bloat, it *IS* bloat.

Fonts should be provided by the reader, not embedded separately in every book. All it serves is make the files bigger. The Charis SIL font is 6.5MB large (3MB compressed), that's several time the size of a regular book with cover.



If you want the text to look nicer, you should spend your time and effort on clean consistent formatting, as well as on the text itself (grammar, spelling, ...). Overloading your book with fancy fonts and styles does not help, quite the opposite. With ebooks, simpler formatting actually tends to look better.
Again, I have to disagree with you. It's NOT bloat to make things look better. This has nothing to do with the content. Use ADE for Windows. You don't have the ability to change the fonts on the fly. The default built-in font doesn't look so good. So using a font such as Charis SIL does look nicer and gives a better reading experience. Even if the ePub was perfect, it would still not look as nice with the default font on some readers.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:56 PM   #10
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For Reading systems based on RMSDK (Nook, Bluefire Reader, ADE 1.8 Mac, etc...) the font changing system is based on user stylesheets, which carry a higher level of precedence than a normal stylesheet. Placing the font definition in a body rule (or even just a p/div) rule should be okay. Placing it in a class rule (ie p.myClass or .myClass) will cause problems with overrides for those readers (this is what InDesign does by default, BTW).
Using a class rule won't cause problems with Nook Color/Tablets, and soon not on the NST, but that's a whole different can o' worms.

I don't know how Reading Systems (iBooks, etc...) not based on RMSDK work for this, and would suggest testing to make sure you get the results you desire.

That being said, I agree with Jellby - as a general rule don't embed the font.
If you really think you need to embed the font, please keep your CSS clean (only use the level of specificity you have to).

Note: This is my personal opinion, and not necessarily that of my employer.

Last edited by Jim Lester; 02-26-2012 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 02-26-2012, 07:20 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
Notice I used serif instead of the font name. Thus means that it's not overriding the font changing systems.
It is, if the user prefers a sans-serif font, and I'm not sure you can use generic family names (like "serif") in a @font-face rule...
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Old 02-26-2012, 08:02 AM   #12
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i wanna chime in to +1 all those that said not to specify the font. I very much enjoy my reader's default font as well as the ability to change it at will.

If some people have readers with crappy default fonts, then it just sucks to be them; should'a bought a reader that invested in a decent font set.

Of course you could always create epubs specific to/tailored to individual readers if it is really an issue with specific cases.
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Old 02-26-2012, 11:06 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jellby View Post
It is, if the user prefers a sans-serif font, and I'm not sure you can use generic family names (like "serif") in a @font-face rule...
Yes, you can use serif. It works fine in ADE. On a T1, it means, I can setup a default embedded font and the user can still change it if wanted. No need to then have to remove the fonts from the ePub or change the CSS code.

It should work fine in most readers that allow font changing. It won't work in a Kobo because Kobo doesn't give a damn (font-family in body doesn't work) and you won't see the embedded fonts.
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Old 02-26-2012, 11:09 AM   #14
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i wanna chime in to +1 all those that said not to specify the font. I very much enjoy my reader's default font as well as the ability to change it at will.

If some people have readers with crappy default fonts, then it just sucks to be them; should'a bought a reader that invested in a decent font set.

Of course you could always create epubs specific to/tailored to individual readers if it is really an issue with specific cases.
I've some ePubs that do have embedded fonts that are meant to be there because there is a specific look being obtained. ADE for Windows does not allow font changes. So the only way to get a better look is to embed fonts. Not everyone has a reader and some people do read via the computer.

What would really help is if there was a way to subset the embedded fonts.
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Old 03-03-2012, 06:53 AM   #15
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Thanks for those that have contributed to this thread. I've learned quite a bit from it and the temptation to embed fonts is significant. But for my first book I think I'll err on the side of caution. The safest thing would simply be to use "serif" for the body text and "sans-serif" for heads and subheads, if I understand correctly.

Chris
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