1. Baller Dale
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    Baller Dale Member

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    Different fonts in one short story - acceptable?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Baller Dale, Oct 18, 2012.

    I am writing a short story in the form of letters, diary entries and newspaper articles - all, in the real world, having different fonts.

    Is it okay to have different fonts? Or should I just use the same font throughout the whole story?

    Thank you
     
  2. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    If it makes sense for the story, why not? I think that The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco used several different fonts. I haven't read it, but I have read about it.
     
  3. littleshoe
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    littleshoe Member

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    Unless it is your webpage (You can control format), forget about different fonts. The only parameters you can change are size, italic/normal, bold/normal.

    To make evident the differentiation (letters, articles…), look at English exercise books for foreigners (They have exercises where you need to scan for information which is supposed to come from different source, like letters, articles, and so on). Articles have a title (in bold) and the name of the author(s). Letters have a heading (Dear ….). Mails have a specific format to (from: xxxx@xxxxxx.xxx ; to: xxxx@xxxxxx.com). Diary’s entries have dates.

    Letters, articles and emails are easy to tag (sender and recipient). Diaries entries are not; use different writing styles.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Unless you don't intend on publishing it, I would recommend sticking to one font. IMO, using multiple fonts seems gimmicky.
     
  5. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with thirdwind. I'd stick to the one font.
     
  6. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    One of the basic rules of writing is to separate presentation from content. When you are writing your story, just do the story and don't think about how it will be presented.

    Only when you have finished do you worry about presentation. If you are going through a publisher then it will be hard to sell the idea of multiple fonts, because it costs more to produce. If you are self-publishing then either stick to a single font or go the whole way (if the format allows it) and present it as letters, newspaper cuttings and so on, with printed dates and lined paper for the diary entries, torn edges for the newspaper cuttings and so on. Yes, some people will (rightly) find it gimmicky, but others will like the gimmick. Well, it worked (taken to even more of an extreme) for Dennis Wheatley in the 1930s, anyway!
     
  7. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    It will be hard to control if it gets published unless they understand the importance of presentation to the story. There are many books now that use layout, fonts and even graphs to tell the narrative, as traditional formatting is being set aside for more creative ways to present a work.
     
  8. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    It depends if they are important parts of telling the story.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    No. If your story depends on font changes for clarity, it is badly written.

    Stories are written and submitted in manuscript, which is always in a single font.
     
  10. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Mostly, but not exclusively. More and more people are breaking out of the mainstream way of presenting ideas and becoming more creative. It's certainly not recommended for new writers to break the conventions of presentation, and certainly not if they want the attention of established publishers, but with more independent avenues of distribution opening up, so does creativity.

    Besides, that's like saying that if a film needs to make flashbacks look different to the main story, for clarity, then it's poorly directed.
     
  11. Kectacoco
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    Kectacoco Member

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    Just changing fonts probably won't give you much of a visual impact, but it may work as an additional element of something more typographically dramatic. Though, you would probably have to drop the sort of epistolary style that you want.
     
  12. Thromnambular
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    Thromnambular Member

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    I don't think he ever said anything about the story depending on different fonts to clarify anything.

    This is probably a creative choice he wants to implement. Whether or not he should go through with it depends on the medium he's going to use to distribute this story.

    If this is going to be published on a website, for example, he could easily make the letters/newspapers actually look like letters and newspapers, adding a nice detail.

    On a magazine, this could be done as well...but it'd be up to the publisher.

    While not impossible to pull off in a book, it's relatively rare to see particularly creative presentation.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    basic rule for new and unknown writers is for the submitted ms to be in one font [most preferred is courier new], all 12 pt... that includes title, chapter headings, etc... and with nothing in bold or italics and nothing underlined unless indicating italics for a foreign or stressed word...

    go beyond that and you risk your ms being tossed unread...

    fancy fontery is at the discretion of the publisher, after your work has been accepted for publication...
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, if you're counting on self-publishing, anything goes. Not that there is much chance you will find success in the "independent avenues of distribution."

    Nope, that's a very poor analogy. If the script writer submitted the flashback scenes in a fantasy font in lime green, that would be analogous. The writer would be told to go sleep it off, or would simply be dumped, for pulling such an unprofessional stunt.

    Depending on font stunts is not creativity, it's lazy writing.

    Sure, manuscript format is becoming more relaxed. You can actually use italics instead of underlining to denote italics, although that will still annoy some submissions editors (underlining is easier to see), and you can use actual em-dashes instead of --. But switching fonts, or decorating fonts, is strongly discouraged.
     
  15. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    I have to agree with Cogito. Being a graphic designer I basically live, sleep and eat fonts and i dont think loads are needed in writing. I'm guessing your thinking of the type of writing that was done in diary of a wimpy kid and its knock offs. The one thing I learned when designing a poster is not to use too many fonts as it gets confusing and aesthetically it can look ugly and disjointed. It doesn't allow for flow, and in a book more than a poster that's kinda important. You could end up with a picture book instead of a novel. Terry Pratchett uses the closest i seen to a font change well when his character Death speaks. But then all he uses is a lower caps version of the novels font. After all there must be a reason why all book (with a few exceptions) use the same typeface.
     
  16. Intentionally Blank
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    Intentionally Blank Member

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    I go through nightmares getting eBooks to format themselves properly. I would recommend you use only one font, and only use different fonts for things that require it (e.g a letter or a diary). Otherwise, formatting and conversion becomes a real pain in the @r$e (particularly when converting ePub to Kindle MOBI for example, as MOBI is a more simple format and doesn't work well with fonts). Also, adding fonts to a file increases it's size considerably. You don't want a short story to be as large as a 100 000+ word novel do you?

    As for the printing aspect, someone has also mentioned it is more expensive to print books with multiple different fonts.
    I disagree. Just because you may end up with a butt-headed publisher does not mean there is no reason not have different fonts if the situation calls for it.

    After all, it's just another form of creativity, and isn't writing supposed to be creative?
     
  17. maidahl
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    maidahl Banned

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    Letters. Diary entries. Newspaper clips. Examples of font changers that work for me.

    Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield is a cool read.
     
  18. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I wasn't talking about the script. I was talking about the film. You know, the bit with the visuals. You just didn't understand the analogy. That's cool.
     

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