Which font for your ePub?

Fri, Feb 1, 2013

Digital Publishing, Font, Tip

Finding fonts for Digital Publications is not very difficult — mostly you’ll be searching for fonts that are display well on screens.

The more difficult task can be licensing, as every font vendor has different licensing schemes, and some do not even allow you to embed their fonts in a PDF…

When creating native apps or other “encapsulated” file formats, where it is hard for the average user to get to the embedded fonts, I would recommend contacting your font vendor of choice and ask about licensing. Of course you could always rasterize a font, but that’s not really a good choice in regards to accessibility, readability and searchability, especially when using a Digital Publishing solution like App Studio, which by default keeps text as text (HTML5).

But what about ePubs? ePubs are basically a ZIP archive that contain the font file in a reusable format once you unzipped it. And I could understand that font vendors might be hesitant to license fonts for ePubs.

My recommendation: Use an OpenSource font for your reflowable ePub.

As ePubs typically are not displaying as designed, but reflow where line breaks do not matter anyhow, you are probably not so much concerned about CI. Otherwise you shouldn’t really create an ePub, a native app would be the better format.

And remember that in most Readers (hardware and software readers) your customer can switch font, so even if you carefully chose one, they might display everything in Times or Helvetica anyway.

So, if you decide for an OpenSource font that reads well on screen, my recommendation is Droid:

DroidFontAtFontSquirrel

You can find Droid here (and other fonts that are free for commerical use): http://www.fontsquirrel.com/foundry/Google-Android

 

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This post was written by:

- who has written 31 posts on Planet Quark.

Both an engineer and a layout artist, Matthias bridges the gap between technology and people. Before joining Quark, Matthias pioneered print, Web, and multimedia products for multiple German publishing companies. Since 1997 he has played a central role in shaping Quark’s desktop and enterprise software. Starting 2003 Matthias has focused on Quark's interactive and digital publishing solutions. He is an active participant in design and publishing communities and represents Quark in the Ghent PDF Workgroup. Matthias is a frequent speaker at seminars and conferences worldwide, helping both individual designers and large organizations to uncover the possibilities and implications of digital publishing, including the business considerations, design and technology implications, and business capabilities offered by digital design and publishing tools. Follow me here: Twitter & Forums

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3 Responses to “Which font for your ePub?”

  1. Maya Says:

    Will these Android fonts also work on my Mac? And can I then publish to an iPad?

  2. Matthias Guenther Says:

    Hi Maya, of course you can do that.
    Opentype fonts (OTF) promise to be cross-platform and TrueType fonts (TTF) mostly also work on both, OS X and Windows.

    The Droid font is the standard font on Android but of course will work also work on other platforms like the iPad if you can embed it (as iOS has no way to allow the user to install fonts)

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I think font obfuscation is a way to embed fonts without violating license.
    See http://www.idpf.org/epub/30/spec/epub30-ocf.html#font-obfuscation. however it does contains a note – ‘…Whether this satisfies the requirements of individual font licenses remains a question for the licensor and licensee.’

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