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What Fonts to Use in Your Cookbook

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One of the more important parts of your cookbook design is choosing which fonts to use. Poor font selection can result in a book that is hard to read and can frustrate your readers. Sticking to basic fonts will not make your book stand out, but you can ensure it will be as readable as possible. Print and eBooks will have different fonts because some fonts are easier to read on a computer and others are easier to read in print.

Standard Fonts for Printed Cookbooks

There are several standard fonts used for printed cookbooks. The major ones are Georgia, Adobe Garamond Pro, Minion Pro, Palatino, Baskerville, and Goudy Old Style. These are all serif fonts, which tend to be easier to read in printed books.

The font size can vary depending on the context (recipe headnote vs body text vs ingredients) though 10 to 14 is usually used.

For headings, a larger or bolder version of the body font can be used or a more stylized font such as Bookman Old Style or Century Schoolbook.

When selecting the fonts you will use for your print cookbook, be sure to actually print some sample pages out. The fonts will look very different on your screen than they do on the printed page. It's almost impossible to accurately judge the look, feel, and size of fonts without printing them.

Here are the fonts I use for my most recent books.
  • Main Body and Regular Text: Goudy Old Style
  • Header 1: Georgia with bottom border
  • Header 2: Bookman Old Style Bold
  • Ingredient Header: Goudy Old Style Italic

Standard Fonts for eBooks

For Kindle and other ebooks, the generally accepted method is to set a body font that the user can then override with their device settings. The Kindle supports many basic fonts including: Arial, Baskerville, Caecilia, Courier, Georgia, Helvetica, Lucida Sans Unicode, Palatino, Times New Roman, Trebuchet, Verdana, so it is usually best to stick to one of those as your default. You can then utilize the bold, italic, and underlined versions of this font throughout your book. A separate font can also be used for headers if desired.

We have published our books using Palatino, Verdana, and Georgia as our base font for different books. We then use the bold version of the font at double the size for our largest header and move the size down from there.

For fancier presentations you can also embed fonts into your Kindle books. It's usually best to only do this for headers because many readers like to pick their own body fonts. Preventing them from doing this will just upset them and lead to bad reviews.

For this reason it is also best not to lock the font size of the body text, different people like reading it at different sizes. 12pt is generally a good default font size that the reader can then overwrite if needed.

Be sure to add in some line spacing, usually 120% to 150% works best.

For PDF books I highly recommend using a sans serif font or one that is designed to be read on a computer screen. This will make it much easier for your readers to read it.

General Cookbook Font Tips

A good rule of thumb is to mix and match serif and sans serif fonts if your header font is different than your body font. Two different serif fonts next to each other can look a little strange. Some work well with each other but it's something to keep in mind.

An important reminder is that when most people are reading your recipes they will be in their kitchen and not in a normal reading situation. Because of this, it is best to err on the side of too large instead of too small. This is especially important with print books or PDFs where you have fixed the font size.

Make sure you leave ample spacing between paragraphs. Usually a 0.8 to 2 extra lines are added.

Some people recommend always setting your text to full-justification for a more professional looking text.

You can view the fonts and styles we use in our books by downloading our sample template.

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