Formatting & Fonts: When Publishers Get it Wrong

Here are some examples of the three most common crimes I’ve encountered.

Crime: Page format – where’s the white space?

Shadow Game by Christine Feehan

Publisher: Piatkus

Description: A very incomfortable read. White space is a rare commodity among these pages. Never squish too many words onto a page. I don’t know how this managed to pass the proof copy stage. My low 2-star review reflected the poor formatting.

Love the cover of this edition but when I opened it up to the first page, my heart dropped. The small font combined with almost non-existent line spacing made this reader-unfriendly. The words looked like they’d been desperately crammed on to the page and though environmentally friendly, using fewer pages, it’s not something I’d expect from well-established publishers. It made this book seem almost never-ending considering the total number of pages.

Crime: Font type & size unreadable

Migraine by Oliver Sacks

Publisher: Picador

Description: A tiny serif font where the dots in the i aren’t always printed. Weirdly, the font types showcased on the pages before Contents are all more readable than that in the rest of the book. Attempts to read it are painfully migrainous, ironically. I may have to cover a small section everyday.

Crime: Font colour unreadable

Critical Thinking Skills: Developing Effective Analysis and Argument by Stella Cottrell

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Description: Blue. Bright blue. Every page, every sentence, every word. I tried to read it, I really did, I just couldn’t manage it. I bet a good proportion of the price went on that coloured ink, too. What a waste.

Critical Thinking by Stella Cottrell

I’m also not a fan of deckled edges when they’re not relevant to the content within. I’m lookin’ at you Speechless.

Font and formatting decisions are vital to reader enjoyment. Some publishers do a better job than others.


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