Publishing a Book? CreateSpace vs. Lightning Source

Years ago I published my first book, Parallel Mind, The Art of Creativity through Lightning Source, then the premier POD (print on demand) printer for books. All the big publishers used Lightning Source. I encouraged my consulting clients to use Lightning Source as recently as 3 years ago.

Then I found CreateSpace. I haven’t looked back: last year, I celebrated my 7th year of book design when I published my 11th book, The Avatars of Eden. All of my books are now printed by CreateSpace and available on Amazon: Aliyah Marr.


Here is the record of a chat I just held with LightningSource.

–begin chat–

Aliyah Marr
I published 3 books through you, but I have republished all those books (some of them several times) through CreateSpace. Now I have 11 books on Amazon, the print versions throughCreateSpace.

First understand that I am a professional graphic designer who is a published author. I design all my books and design my client’s books. In fact, I sent some of my clients to you and they have become book publishers in their own right. Now, however, most of them are on CreateSpace.

May I state why I decided to switch my business to CreateSpace?

You may.

Aliyah Marr

1. CreateSpace doesn’t charge any setup fees.
This is important when you find that you have a small or large error in your book and you have to correct it.

2. CreateSpace has an astounding user interface.
This allows a professional such as myself a seamless way to upload my files.

3. CreateSpace is Amazon.
Enough said.

4. CreateSpace has distribution world-wide.
They have deals with printers in various countries.

5. CreateSpace connects the reviews of my ebooks (Kindle) with the printed versions on their site.

6. And most important: CreateSpace has better print quality.
I once tried to talk to the tech department at LS about the lack of print consistency from page to page. They were able to tell me that this is due to different toners on the heads, but they were not able to correct the problem.

Another time I tried to talk to a printing professional at LS about how to up the quality in the books from my end. They had no idea what the various printing terms meant. They are not printing professionals, they can only run the book making machines, IMHO.

7. CreateSpace has great turn around too.

8. Lastly, I was never able to really talk to anyone down at LightningSource.
It seemed that my account manager was never in the office, and never returned my calls. Have any of these items changed? I mean, I haven’t really dealt with LS for years.

We do have support available 7 days a week.

Aliyah Marr
Have any of the other items on my list changed?

CreateSpace and LSI are very different platforms for differing types of publishers who have different needs.CreateSpace does use Ingram Distribution and printing. They are a customer of ours. Some publishers feel that the services that come along withCreateSpace better suit their needs as self-publishers.

Aliyah Marr
Yes, I know that CreateSpace is a customer of yours. I assume that I cannot control the quality of a book outside the US, but those that I see from CreateSpace are excellent in quality inside and out. Whereas the ones from LS were not consistent at all.

I’m sorry, but chat serves as a way for publishers to ask quick questions concerning their LSI accounts. If you are interested in discussing CreateSpaces’s services compared to our own, you are welcome to give us a call for a more thorough and satisfying exchange. Do you have any questions concerning your account?

Aliyah Marr
Will you please submit my list of observations to whomever may care to receive feedback?

Yes. I will.

—end of chat—

I assume that my feedback won’t have any effect. But I hope that this helps others who want to publish their books.

via The New and Improved Ingram’s Lightning Source


Margins and Gutter Tips for Creating a Book on CreateSpace

A spread from The Tarot Key

The two leading POD (Print On Demand) printers might use similar equipment, but you must take into account their quirks when you design your book interior. I started out using Lightning Source and migrated to CreateSpace about two years ago. Now I use CreateSpace for reasons that belong in another article.

This post is about how to design a good-looking book for CreateSpace that takes into account they way they handle gutters and margins (the gutter is the space between the two pages of a spread, and the margins are on the outside of both pages—top bottom, right, and left sides). I tend to put a bigger gutter than any of the margins. I do this so that the text doesn’t get lost in the fold when people try to read the book. Some books have such a small gutter that you have to fold it flat to read it. Logic would seem to dictate that the thicker the spine (length of book), the bigger that margin would have to be. Not so!

The gutter in InDesign includes the blue gutter area and the inside margins on each page.

The strange thing about this in CreateSpace is that the proportion of gutter required is actually the inverse of the length of the book! I noticed this when I designed the first version of The Tarot Key. I put a huge gutter in it, but the weight of the pages (400) made it open itself. On a book of a smaller length, CS puts a crease on the cover at 5/16 inch in which makes the cover open there, effectively cutting off that much space in the gutter.

I don’t like small outside margins; anything below .5 inch looks bad to me. Of course, this is a visual decision that has to be balanced in consideration of all the visual elements: the type size, the leading, the other margins, image sizes, etc. CreateSpace tends to need an additional 5/16 of an inch on the inside gutter per side. This is easy to set up and also change in InDesign.

The gutter and margins are considered “white space” and as such, balance the rest of the design. In the field of graphic design, the negative space or “white space” is considered an important element of the design:

In page layout, illustration and sculpture, white space is often referred to as negative space. It is the portion of a page left unmarked: margins, gutters, and space between columns, lines of type, graphics, figures, or objects drawn or depicted. The term arises from graphic design practice, where printing processes generally use white paper. White space should not be considered merely ‘blank’ space — it is an important element of design which enables the objects in it to exist at all; the balance between positive (or non-white) and the use of negative spaces is key to aesthetic composition. Inexpert use of white space, however, can make a page appear incomplete.

When space is at a premium, such as in some types of magazine, newspaper, and yellow pages advertising, white space is limited in order to get as much vital information on to the page as possible. A page crammed full of text or graphics with very little white space runs the risk of appearing busy or cluttered, and is typically difficult to read.[1] Some designs compensate for this problem through the careful use of leading and typeface. Conversely, judicious use of white space can give a page a classic, elegant, or rich appearance. For example, upscale brands often use ad layouts with little text and a lot of white space. For publication designers, white space is very important. Publications can be printed on a variety of different papers, which can have different colours, textures, etc. In these cases, white space is used for good presentation and for showcasing the different stocks. ~

Copyright 2015 Aliyah Marr

About the author:

Aliyah Marr is a visual designer, specializing in books, and other media. She has now produced 9 books of her own in print and ebook editions, and helped many other authors publish their books.

You are free to share this article as long as you include the credits and provide a link back to this blog.

How to Remove Forced Indenting on Kindle Book

I have researched this and even followed the Smashwords guide, but my Kindle books always forced indents on my paragraphs, and removed the paragraph breaks I had set in my Word doc. But I just discovered a new trick to force Kindle books to show a block paragraph instead.

Remember Kindle is basic HTML: HTML is tag coding, and in its most basic form, it has very few formatting options:

1. Flush left or centered text.

2. No font choices (these are determined by device or user).

3. Font size (please don’t go crazy with this. I use only 2 font sizes: 12 point for body, 14 point for headings, anything else is taken care of by using BOLD).

4. Bold, italic, regular font styles.

5. Some “special characters,” but no lists or bullet points.

6. Tables (they don’t really work, I prefer to use a picture of a table).

7. Paragraph breaks and line breaks.


Point #7 is what I use for making Kindle show me true block paragraphs. Mark Coker recommends using a .01 indent to make a “nearly invisible” indent, but Kindle ignores this and gives you paragraph indents anyway. Besides, I am a designer, and this tiny indent bothers me (designers can make themselves and everyone around them crazy).

So, I place a paragraph break (shown as a “p” in the picture below) at the end of every paragraph and then follow it up with a line break (shown as a bent arrow below).

My last book, The Tarot Key is a really large manuscript, and I was facing a massive editing job to do this by hand, but there is a quick shortcut which I outline next.


STEP #1: Clean up your document to remove multiple paragraph breaks!

STEP #2: Duplicate your document and work off the dupe in case something happens.

STEP #3: Go to the advanced “Find/Replace” in Word.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 12.49.31 PM

STEP #4: Click on the “Gear” icon in the middle and choose “Advanced Find & Replace.”

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 12.51.00 PM

STEP #5: Duplicate what I have in the above window:

Find what: ^p

Replace with: ^p^l

(That’s a lower-case “L” with a “carrot” character preceding it to make a line break.) The first window is looking for paragraph breaks. The second window replaces the paragraph breaks with a paragraph break and a line break.

STEP #6: Click “Replace All”

STEP #7: Review your manuscript. If you need to put in a manual line break, it can be done by hitting the RETURN key while holding down the SHIFT key.


Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 11.08.23 AM

Here is what happens. You can see the line breaks follow the paragraph breaks in the document. The paragraph may indent the first line, but as this is blank, the indent is “white” and doesn’t show. The line break “fools” the Kindle mashup machine to think that the paragraph begins at the empty first line, and forces the paragraph with the line break to really start at the line below it: officially the “second line.” (Double paragraph returns won’t work because Kindle will indent each one. Only a line break will work.)

You can then scan your document and see that before each new paragraph you have a line break indicated by the bent arrow. Turn on the “reversed P” button on the top bar to “show all non-printing characters” on your page.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 1.03.16 PM

And here is the final result: a perfectly formatted Kindle book with the block paragraphs that I designed.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 1.07.34 PM

I hope that this trick helps my fellow Kindle book publishers. I now have to get busy and fix all my books!

About me: I am a designer and author. I have published eight books of my own using CreateSpace, Kindle, and LightningSource, and I have helped numerous other authors with their work.

Copyright 2015, Aliyah Marr, All rights reserved.

You may only link to this article, please don’t copy it to your blog or website.


Read my book Squawk! Social Media for the Solitary Bird
#4 in E-commerce/Small Business #24 in Business & Money/Technology on Kindle.

More about me on Amazon’s author page:

See my books here:

Hyphens, En Dashes, Em Dashes : What is the difference in usage between an em dash and an en dash?

Most people don’t know how to generate an “em” dash in Word; most don’t know the differences between the kind of dashes either. There are three: the hyphen, the “en” dash, which is a bit longer, and the longest, the “em” dash.

The “em” dash is generated on the Mac in all programs by hitting three keys at once—

shift + option + dash (I do this so automatically that I had to look at the keyboard when I did it just now.)

I wasn’t sure how the en dash is used so I looked it up and learned something new:

Q. What is the difference in usage between an em dash and an en dash?

A. I will try to condense the various bits of information scattered throughout CMOS. First of all, there are three lengths of what are all more or less dashes: hyphen (-), en dash (–), and em dash (—). I frame it this way because the work they do is roughly related to their length (though I don’t think CMOS puts it this way outright).

The hyphen connects two things that are intimately related, usually words that function together as a single concept or work together as a joint modifier (e.g., tie-in, toll-free call, two-thirds).

The en dash connects things that are related to each other by distance, as in the May–September issue of a magazine; it’s not a May-September issue, because June, July, and August are also ostensibly included in this range. And in fact en dashes specify any kind of range, which is why they properly appear in indexes when a range of pages is cited (e.g., 147–48). En dashes are also used to connect a prefix to a proper open compound: for example, pre–World War II. In that example, “pre” is connected to the open compound “World War II” and therefore has to do a little extra work (to bridge the space between the two words it modifies—space that cannot be besmirched by hyphens because “World War II” is a proper noun). Now, that is a rather fussy use of the en dash that many people ignore, preferring the hyphen.

The em dash has several uses. It allows, in a manner similar to parentheses, an additional thought to be added within a sentence by sort of breaking away from that sentence—as I’ve done here. Its use or misuse for this purpose is a matter of taste, and subject to the effect on the writer’s or reader’s “ear.” Em dashes also substitute for something missing. For example, in a bibliographic list, rather than repeating the same author over and over again, three consecutive em dashes (also known as a 3-em dash) stand in for the author’s name. In interrupted speech, one or two em dashes may be used: “I wasn’t trying to imply——” “Then just what were you trying to do?” Also, the em dash may serve as a sort of bullet point, as in this to-do list:

—wash the car

—walk the dog

—attempt to explain em and en dashes

This explanation is not intended to be exhaustive (for much more, see chapter 6 in CMOS 16), but I do hope that it helps to frame the different potential of each length of dash.

via Hyphens, En Dashes, Em Dashes : What is the difference in usage between an em dash and an en dash?.

Tip for Easy Secure Backups

This may not be a sexy subject, but I guarantee that if you have been working on the computer for more than a year, you have probably experienced a backup failure. But beyond installing a backup system and integrating it into your routine, there are still loopholes that your hard work can fall into.

I backup onto a hard drive with TimeMachine. Since I work outside my home, this backup gets done maybe once a week. This is good if your computer ever crashes and you have to reinstall everything. It has saved my files on more than one occasion, but this backup is not an incremental backup.

For that I have a cloud-based system. I keep the files I am working on in the folder that is linked to the cloud. Whenever I save a file, it writes over the one on my backup. But what happens if you need to go back to a former version or if that file gets corrupted.

Once, years ago, my project became corrupted, and I lost months of work. I had not saved a duplicate version.

So now I have a very simple technique: it involves two folders, both on the cloud. One folder is called “Older Versions” and the other is named by the project. The Older Versions folder is inside the Project folder.

In the Project folder I have two files: my main project file and one that is a dupe of that file from the day before.

Whenever I start my workday, I take the dupe and dump it into the Older Versions folder, and let it replace the older copy of the same name in the folder. Then I make a new dupe of my working file (on the Mac, this is as simple as hitting “Command – D” on your keyboard).

Then I start to work on the project file. If, for any reason, I lose my original file I have a dupe in the same folder from the start of the day. If that is corrupted too, I can go back to the old version in the other folder. I can never lose more than one day of work.

Try this method and you will be securely protected against the loss of your work.

Do these eight things and you will be more creative and insightful, neuroscientists say – The Washington Post

Tests of human intelligence show that even as IQ, the measure of our analytical thinking skills, appears to be on the rise, our more expansive, creative thinking skills may be on the wane as our hyper-busy world promotes more narrow, analytical thought. Neuroscientist John Kounios, a professor of psychology at Drexel University and co-author, along with colleague Mark Beeman, of The Eureka Factor, studies how creativity and insightful thinking begin in the brain. He says there are some very simple things we can all do to set the stage for insights, out-of-the box thinking, creativity and the “whispers of intuition” to arise

via Do these eight things and you will be more creative and insightful, neuroscientists say – The Washington Post.

Now a Bestseller: #1 in Creativity and Genius!

Now a bestseller on Kindle.
It made #1 in Creativity and Genius in only 12 hours!

Download your Kindle copy for FREE until July 7th.

Inspirational daily quotes for the creative individual. Motivate, inspire yourself, get back onto the creative path; increase your happiness quotient!

This book is for those who are blessed—or cursed—with the gift of creative intelligence. Those whose right brains keep them up at night with brilliant concepts; those who question everything; those who don’t respect authority; those who were never understood by their peers, parents or teachers; those who were the class clowns.

You know who you are. You never fit in, were never voted to be famous, and were not popular among your classmates at school. Your parents despaired that you might end up in the gutter, because you wanted to be an artist.

You were one of the motley misfits who sat at the back of the room reading science fiction, the art geek who drew cartoon characters in math class, the budding scientist who experimented with potentially incendiary ingredients from your mother’s kitchen in the bathroom, the fledging drummer who just couldn’t sit still in grade school.

You were the one couldn’t figure out why everyone else wanted to lead a normal life. I honor you with our special secret salute (I can’t show it here, but you know what that is).

About the Author
A rebel with real cause, I fit the description in the dedication to the artist in this book: I question everything, I don’t respect “authority,” I was not understood by my peers, parents, or teachers, and although I was not a “class clown” I certainly sniggered to myself throughout grade school and subsequently throughout most functions that most people take seriously such as movie stardom, football, and politics. I live by three principles: #1 maturity is overrated. #2 never forget to play #3 don’t ever, ever put away your toys

How To Find Out If A Font Sucks –

How To Find Out If A Font Sucks

By Aqila Xiao Qi, 23 Jun 2015


“Left is correct; on the right, red arrows point to the actual extremes, where there should be an on-curve point. Some errors are subtle to detect, such as the topmost and leftmost points.”

Oregon-based vice president of FontLab and typography enthusiast Thomas Phinney has revealed twelve useful markers to help you get past the superficial beauty of any font, and objectively distinguish a high quality font from one that is poorly executed.

Detect irregularly spaced letters in a font.

“Bad spacing above; passable spacing below. The table indicates the size of each glyph, its total advance width and sidebearings.”

In creating decent fonts, it is crucial to consider the natural shapes of each letter and keep the white spaces in between relatively consistent. “Junk fonts” often neglect the element of spacing, which can easily be revealed via a font metrics software.

Rounded letters should “overshoot” the height of other similarly-sized letters.

“The top O has overshoot and looks the same size as the H. The bottom O does not, and looks smaller than its H neighbors.”

In order for rounded letters to avoid appearing relatively small to other letters in a font, it is necessary to tweak its height to “overshoot” other similarly-sized letters by about 1-2%.

Look out for the “thickening” effect when two strokes intersect in a single letter.

“(top) Curve joining a straight line; join looks heavy when filled. (bottom) Curve join corrected.”

Exemplified in the letter ‘a’, where two strokes meet at sharp angles, causing the intersecting component to appear thicker than its other strokes. A common way to compensate for this effect is to thin out the section that looks heavy.

Find out how fonts experiment with the concept of optical illusions and how else you can judge a font quality here.

[via Communication Arts]

via How To Find Out If A Font Sucks –

Graphic Designer Explains The Most Common And Successful Color Schemes –

[Editor’s note: one of the most effective color schemes is not mentioned: the use of a neutral color scheme with accent colors to point out important information and lead the eye to “action” points on the page. To see this in action go to my portfolio page:]

Do you know the definitions of analogous, triadic, monochromatic, and other design jargons?

Jerry Cao, a content strategist at UXPin, explains the most common and successful colors schemes, and how to maximize them to make your website stand out.

Analogous color schemes rely on colors that are just next to each other on the color wheel.

Jerry explains, “When using an analogous color scheme for web design, designers often choose one color to be the most dominant.” While the second color is used for differentiating elements, a third color is used when accenting.

For instance, website doabackflip uses yellow as its dominant color, and a reddish orange color as its secondary color.

Analogous Color Scheme, image via doabackflip

Monochromatic scheme uses only one dominant color, or different shades of the same color that complement each other well.

Monochromatic is the most basic and commonly used color scheme, its minimalist design helps emphasize your content. For instance, app-making company Wake uses a white-on-blue monochromatic scheme to highlight their main business services.

Monochromatic Color Scheme, image via Wake

Triadic is known to be the safest of all the color schemes. It is made up by joining an equilateral triangle on the color wheel.

Triadic Color Scheme, image via Ray Trygstad

The pros of using the triadic is that the colors prevent the website from appearing dull. But on the flip side, it is harder to draw attention to one single element.

Triadic Color Scheme, image via DocReady

Head over here to learn more about the other popular color schemes among designers.

Find out more about the color theory by downloading the Web UI Design for the Human Eye ebook.

Read more:

Graphic Designer Explains The Most Common And Successful Color Schemes –

Craft Your Website Without Code ~ Webydo

A device for making a website without having to write any code.

Go here to try –> Discover Webydo.

19 top fonts in 19 top combinations | BonFX

(FYI: As a direct result of writing this original article, we published The Big Book of Font Combinations, a 400 page trove of font combinations that should get you up and going with some ideas very quickly!)

I recently compiled a list of the 19 most popular fonts according to usage by graphic designers from all over the web. I could have had 100, but I got it down to under 50, and from there whittled it down to just the 19 best fonts. Why 19? Because at exactly 20, the “long tail” shot right out and the differences in tallies became negligible. Take a look at those top fonts if you want and come right back because now we are going to have a little typography fun.

What we have here is that list of 19 top fonts once again, but this time combined into pairs to give us 19 excellent font combinations.

How does combining fonts work?
I simply followed the golden rule of font combinations, which is simply to combine a serif and a sans serif to give “contrast” and not “concord”. The farther apart the typeface styles are, as a guideline, the more luck you’ll have. Fonts that are too similar look bad. Set a line of Times Roman over Garamond and you’ll see what I mean. I chose the simple model of a bold headline font and normal weight body font. All the font combinations got the same “lorem” text.

How did I choose the combinations?
I tried to mix it up, but had to make some arbitrary decisions. For instance, I could have picked Baskerville, Caslon, Garamond, or Minion, etc. (all serif typefaces) to go with Futura (a sans serif typeface). I simply choose to spread them out amongst themselves, keeping the use of repeats down to a minimum.

Hey, type nerd: The Big Book of Font Combinations wants you to stop by and check it out. 17% off right now!

The results
You may love some of these combinations and hate others, or be unphased by yet others (or you may think I dwell on this too much). However, this is not a fair fight. Pretty much any two fonts can be balanced out and made to work with each other in some type of context. Our context here was strictly delimited, and so any of these combinations might warrant further experimentation for even better results.

Finally, I tried to keep the look of each example as close as possible to each other. This involved using the occasional semibold or light to balance a font out at certain point size. I also tweaked font size and leading in the interest of creating uniformity amongst the examples.

So here we have the following items:

A very long chart of the font combinations
We must also technically call this a list of top typeface combinations, which is what it really is (Google “fonts and typefaces” for some spirited discussions).
A link to a PDF version (2 column) of the original I composed
A text list version of these combinations

Yo, Font-Addict! Make sure to sneak-peek at The Big Book of Font Combinations. It’s on sale—17% off—for a limited time and then POOF! Go grab a copy and stare at all 370 examples of informative font combinations. You know you want to!

PDF Download:

Click the preview image below or download “19 top fonts in 19 top combinations chart“:

Text version of list:

Helvetica / Garamond
Caslon / Univers
Frutiger / Minion
Futura / Bodoni
Garamond / Futura
Gill Sans / Caslon
Minion / Gill Sans
Univers / Caslon
Bodoni / Futura
Myriad / Minion
Avenir / Warnock
Caslon / Franklin Gothic
FF Din / Baskerville
Trade Gothic / Clarendon
Baskerville / Univers
Akzidenz Grotesk / Garamond
Clarendon / Trade Gothic
Franklin Gothic / Baskerville
Warnock / Univers

Enjoy! Thanks again for reading and looking and downloading and printing!

19 top fonts in 19 top combinations | BonFX.

via 19 top fonts in 19 top combinations | BonFX.

Font Combinations in Book Design

…A few of my favorite type superfamilies are Fontin/Fontin Sans, Liberation Serif/LiberationSans, and Scala Pro/Scala Sans Pro. (As a bonus, both the Fontin superfamily and the Liberation superfamily are open source — that is, free to use.) There’s also an interesting list of forty superfamilies in an article on Peyton Crump’s Viget Inspire blog. Stay on your toes, however, as not each of these pairs is suitable for making books….

Many thanks to Stephen Tiano for sharing his knowledge. You can read other book design articles on his blog, and follow Stephen on Twitter.

Font combination resources

combining fonts

Typeface combinations used in design books, elsewhere on the blog
Four techniques for combining fonts, by H&FJ
Best Practices of Combining Typefaces, on Smashing Magazine
The Big Book of Font Combinations, priced $24.95, from Doug at BonFX
7 New Typeface Combinations for Book Design, on The Book Designer
3 Great Typeface Combinations You Can Use in Your Book, on The Book Designer
19 fonts in 19 combinations, on BonFX
The non-typographer’s guide to practical typeface selection”, on Authentic Boredom
Top Ten Typefaces Used by Book Design Winners, on The FontFeed
Font combinations in book design.

Top Ten Typefaces Used by Book Design Winners | The FontFeed

The American Association of University Presses (AAUP) holds an annual Book, Jacket & Journal Show which catalogs the best in book design and exhibits it around the country.

The jurors for this year’s show include some important names in typography, including William Drentel and Jessica Helfand of Design Observer, and typographer and type designerKent Lew, who created the Font Bureau’s lovely and literary text face, Whitman.

Jessica Helfand and William DrentelSusan Colberg and Kent Lew
Jessica Helfand, William Drentel, Susan Colberg, and Kent Lew examine AAUP Show entries.

The catalog of the show is a beautiful record of the selected entries, and, because typeface credits are included, it’s also a good gauge of current trends in typeface selection for books and journals.

We ordered catalogs from the last three years of the show and tallied the typefaces used. The results won’t shock you — each of the top ten is a tried-and-true classic. Yet there is so much more great type out there begging to be used for academic text and titling. So, along with the champions, I’m recommending a few less common alternatives that offer just as much readability, function, and beauty for today’s books and journals.



“Wild Plants of the Sierra Nevada” | Designer: Cameron Poulter | Cover type is New Caldeonia
With a set of 64 fonts in various optical size masters and a condensed option, Minion is one of the most complete serif families available. Add to that an economical width and what might be the most powerful endorsement of any book face — Robert Bringhurst used it for his seminal “Elements of Typographic Style” — and it’s no surprise that Minion is the most common typeface used in all three catalogs of the AAUP show.


  • FF Meta Serif — Erik Spiekermann often recommended Minion as a workhorse serif until he went ahead and designed his own.
  • Karmina
  • Mentor

2. ITC New Baskerville  VIEW AT FONTSHOP

“Memoirs and Madness” | Designer: David Drummond
New Baskerville isn’t far behind Minion in the tally of most popular book faces and, if you ask me, it’s a crying shame. Of all the members of this list, the digital ITC New Baskerville is too delicate and dainty to really perform well as a text face and in most settings it’s also far too antique for the subject matter. Yes, I know Ben Franklin was a big Baskerville fanboy, but we don’t need to take all his advice.


  • Baskerville 1757 — If you must use Baskerville, skip the wispy ITC version and go with something meatier. Designer Lars Bergquist resisted the tendency to pare down hairlines and prettify serifs and other detail work.
  • Baskerville 10
  • Mrs. Eaves — Not a text face, but if the moment calls for a flowery Baskerville aroma and ostentatious ligatures this lady will perform well. Pay careful attention to her spacing and use only for display work.
  • Athelas
  • FF Clifford

3. FF Scala & 4. FF Scala Sans  VIEW AT FONTSHOP

“Boris Yeltsin and Russia’s Democratic Transformation” | Designer: Ashley Saleeba
One of the first designs to come with sans and serif companions, this early FontFont is also one of the first serif typefaces to be originally designed specifically for the digital medium. FF Scala represents the only face on our list besides Minion designed after 1990. Its popularity in modern book design is obvious — it seems like every other museum catalog I see is set in Scala. Fine by me. They’re usually gorgeous.


  • FF Nexus Serif — Martin Majoor’s follow-up to Scala is slightly heavier, warmer, and more traditional. In addition to the expected sans companion, Nexus also has slaband monospaced variants.
  • Fresco — A serif/sans pair from master Fred Smeijers that is truly contemporary. ThePlus version has longer ascenders and descenders for more formal settings.
  • FF Tisa — Five years ago, the options for truly new serif faces were meager. But recently, graduates of rigorous type design programs have produced scores of contemporary designs for serious text setting. Mitja Miklavčič is an award-winningproduct of Reading. His low contrast Tisa is a genuinely new take on text types and a welcome nonconformist in the conservative field of book design.
  • Dolly

5. Adobe Garamond  VIEW AT FONTSHOP

“An Illustrated Chinese Materia Medica” | Designer: Tracy Baldwin
Robert Slimbach‘s 1989 interpretation has been for years the most popular digital rendition of the roman types of Claude Garamond, the go-to typeface for those wanting a little more elegance and old world charm than a Caslon or Times could produce.


  • Garamond Premier — Slimbach’s second take on the style represents nearly 20 years of research and drawing. And with its various cuts for different sizes, Garamond Premier is a more thoughtful tribute to the original metal type.
  • MVB Verdigris
  • Laurentian
  • Arnhem
  • FF Parango

6. Trade Gothic  VIEW AT FONTSHOP

“From Revolution to Ethics” | Designer: David Drummond
The early gothic sans serif style (represented by TradeNews, and Franklin Gothic) could be considered America’s Helvetica, appearing on book jackets any time a basic sans is needed. Like Helvetica, they are used so often that they’ve lost much of their character. So unless banality is the goal, there are many alternatives that are either more interesting or offer more utility for modern design.


  • Benton Sans — True to Font Bureau’s tradition, many of News Gothic’s quirks have been regularized for their reinterpretation, and Benton is livelier in the heavy weights, yet the original’s sturdy, no-nonsense tone remains. Most importantly, the family was expanded into a versatile 26-piece set.
  • Spiegel — In drawing a new headline face for the German magazine Der Spiegel,Luc(as) de Groot transformed Franklin Gothic into a modern powerhouse.
  • Bulldog — Taking its cue from typefaces born before Franklin and News Gothic, Bulldog echos the organic, British idiosyncrasies of an early gothic by the Figgins foundry. Bulldog performs as well in text as it does in headlines, and though still uncommon, it’s been used successfully in annual reports and exhibition catalogs.


“Arctic Spectacles: The Frozen North in Visual Culture, 1818—1875” | Designer: Ashley Saleeba
Perhaps Dwiggins‘ best work, Electra deserves to be in the top ten, but it’s a little light for modern presses.



“Crush” | Designer: Mary Valencia


“The Selected Poetry and Prose of Andrea Zanzotto” | Designer: Maia Wright


“Eye Contact: Photographing Indigenous Australians” | Designer: Amy Ruth Buchanan

Other popular typefaces used in AAUP winning entries:


  1. I should note that the many of the books shown here were honored for the design of their interiors, not the jacket. These covers were included simply as examples of each typeface in use.

    I’d love to show examples of the interior pages, but it was difficult to find photos or scans at resolutions sufficient for this space. I welcome the publishers of any of the winners to send us or post shots of their interior work.

Top Ten Typefaces Used by Book Design Winners | The FontFeed.

10 Fonts That Designers Love To Hate ~ Creative Market Blog

We all have those fonts that just irk us, either due to popularity, ugliness, or both. Below are ten examples of fonts that tend to elicit strong negative emotions from designers. We’re betting you’ve ranted against at least a few, if not all of them!

If you see a font below that you hate, Pin, Tweet, or otherwise share it out. If we missed any, write about it yourself and share it out on social with the hashtag #worstFontsEver.












10 Fonts That Designers Love To Hate ~ Creative Market Blog.

Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign Keyboard Shortcut Visualiser |

Editor’s note: This post was written by John, a design enthusiast with a passion for blogging, too. He regularly writes on the subject of design on his own blog, along with a number of other popular publications. He is also a design freelancer.

If you’re a photographer, web designer, developer, blogger, magazine designer/editor, or even a print designer, chances are that Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are three applications you couldn’t live without.

I’ve been doing graphic design for a few years now, and there’s no way I could live without these three applications (at least not without Photoshop and Illustrator); I simply couldn’t produce such quality work without them, as they’re just so powerful and feature-packed.

While these three applications are ridiculously powerful, however, I’ve realized over the last few years that power isn’t everything: you’ve also got to know how to harness that power in a way that makes financial sense.

Let me give you an example of what I mean: I do a lot of graphic design work on behalf of clients, and recently, I realized that simple, somewhat mundane tasks were taking up a lot of my time.

I charge most of my clients on an hourly basis, and therefore, time is money, literally.

So, I started investigating ways to cut-down the time I spent on these tasks, without it affecting the quality of my work, and I stumbled across a whole host of keyboard shortcuts that I hadn’t been using.

After integrating these shortcuts into my workflow, I cut my time down (on average) by around 17%.

The problem was that it took me hours of sifting through boring documentation to find the shortcuts that were useful to me.

So, I started looking for a better way and stumbled across this incredible tool from FastPrint.

Introducing: Interactive Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator Shortcuts

If, like me, you’re interested in increasing your productivity through the use of keyboard shortcuts, the shortcut visualizer for Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign is the tool you’ve been looking for.

What does the tool do? It maps the hundreds of available keyboard shortcuts for the applications onto a virtual keyboard (displayed on-screen through your web browser of choice).

Why is this useful? Because it means that you don’t have to sift through pages of boring documentation to find useful shortcuts: instead, you can search for them in a visual manner on a virtual keyboard.

Here’s how to get started with the tool:

1: What are you using: Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign?

adobe keyboard mapper

As mentioned, the virtual tool actually maps shortcuts for all three applications, so the first step is to choose the application that you’re actually using.

To do this, navigate to the drop-down menu at the top of the tool and select from Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign.

You’ll see that the colour scheme will change to reflect your choice (i.e. blue for Photoshop, pink for InDesign, etc.).

Once you’ve done this, you’ll see a number of shortcuts corresponding to your chosen application appear on the on-screen keyboard.

2: What are you using: Mac or PC?

adobe keyboard mapper

You’ll notice that if you’re a Mac user, you use the command key rather than the control key in most instances.

On Windows, it’s the other way around.

So, you need to tell the tool which operating system you’re using so that it can make sure to map the shortcuts correctly.

Again, this is done via a selection menu at the top of the browser window.

You’ll notice that the command key disappears if you choose Windows or Linux, but remains if you choose Mac OSX.

3: Where are you? US, UK, or a different country?

adobe keyboard mapper

It’s also important to tell the tool which part of the world you’re in, and which language you’re using, as doing so will ensure that the on-screen keyboard is arranged correctly.

Depending on where you are, there may be subtle differences in the arrangement of certain keys, so make sure to select the location that applies to you.

These are a few locations/languages available, which can be selected via the drop-down: there’s English US and UK, along with a few other choices.

Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to go.

4: How do I view more shortcuts?

adobe keyboard mapper

While you will see a number of shortcuts displayed on the on-screen keyboard by default, you’ll notice that this is only a handful of the total number of shortcuts available for each application.

To view the others, you’ll need to toggle so-called modifier keys (i.e. Alt, Command/Control, and Shift).

Toggling these keys (in any order, might I add) will change the shortcuts mapped to each key.

E.g. If you toggle the Command key (or Control key on Windows/Linux), you’ll notice that the “Z” key now shows the shortcut “Undo”.

5: How do I search for a particular shortcut?

adobe keyboard mapper

Are you looking for a particular keyboard shortcut?

No worries, as there’s search functionality built right into the application.

You’ll notice that this is located just below the virtual keyboard (scroll down if you can’t see it).

To start searching, just start typing in the search bar and you’ll see a list of suggestions appear within milliseconds.

It certainly saves time perusing those lengthy PDFs, doesn’t it?

6: I’m struggling to read the small text, what do I do?

text size

With such a crazy amount of shortcuts mapped onto a single tool, you’ll notice that a lot of the text is pretty small.

If you’re struggling to read this, there’s a quick and easy solution.

Grab your mouse, and roll your cursor over any of the keys on the virtual keyboard: you’ll see the text duplicated in a large font size just below the keyboard itself.

Don’t forget to download the wallpaper(s)


Not only have FastPrint produced the interactive browser-based tool mentioned above, but they’ve also created a series of desktop wallpapers which showcase some of the most popular keyboard shortcuts for each of the applications.

These are available to download from their website.

You can grab the Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign wallpaper, all of which are available for PC and Mac.Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign Keyboard Shortcut Visualiser |

Copy that Robots and Humans can Read

Search engines are automatic programs that “index” the material on the web, and store this information in a database. These so-called spiders crawl out on the web and search the text on a site, so the copy in your site or blog is very important to the web crawler. SEO or search engine optimization requires that unique copy be written for each page of your site. However, copy that is written solely for search engines can be difficult for a human viewer to read. If a search engine does land a human searcher on one of these pages by accident, he will soon get disgusted and leave. Everyone is spam-sensitive these days.

The SEO or search engine optimization game is to try to get at the top of the search engine’s list of relevance or ranking for each keyword search term. Marketers have tried various ways to fight their way to the top of this heap or words: repeating a keyword in the text, including it in the title of the page, using metatag keywords or metatag descriptions, hiding the repeated words on the page in copy the same color as the page, or in the alt tags descriptions. Some of these are still valid marketing tools, others are now disqualified as “spamindexing” techniques. Search engine developers try to stay one step ahead of the marketers who hope to trick them. Therefore, it is best to prepare copy that truly represents your product or service, while including the more obvious keywords that people may naturally use to find you.

Good copy depends on saavy and honest marketing skills, and should be written for the target audience. Copy that is pertinent to your product or service makes it easy for the user to buy from you. This has always been the best way to advertise, and makes your copy “evergreen” because you are not trying to stay ahead of the constantly evolving search engine algorithms.

Many websites deliver content that is badly written, or they deliver too much copy on each page, resulting in a confused and overwhelmed viewer. This is where good site architecture can be combined with good copy for outstanding bottom-line results. Editing, organizing, shifting, and redistributing your content enhances good communication, which results in happy clients and increased profits.

Copyright Aliyah Marr

Aliyah Marr is the author of Squawk! Social Media for the Solitary Bird
and Parallel Mind, The Art of Creativity: The (missing) manual for your right brain

Found: Interactive Design at Grocery Store

~ or A Rose is a Rose is a Rose, Except When it’s Trash.

In California, we have three different ways to discard trash: landfill, compost, and recycling; there is a lot of confusion regarding what goes where. Americans are always in a hurry; so when asking people to responsibly discard their trash into the proper bin, time is of the essence.

The twin disciplines of information design and interactive design rely on fast communication. Often we use pictures or symbols to provide instruction and make it easy to interact. But pictures introduce a teensy-tiny delay in comprehension: after all, we have to convert the symbol or picture into the “thing” or concept that it represents.

Enter this unique solution: bypass all possible misinterpretations by simply posting the very objects that belong in each trashcan in a tableau above each can. Label them with the proper categories and use the same color as the respective can. Outline some of the dark objects with white lines to make them more noticeable. This elegant and deceptively simple solution teaches the user how to dispose of their trash while making them aware of how much of their personal consumption still goes in the landfill.

Copyright Aliyah Marr

Aliyah Marr is the author of Squawk! Social Media for the Solitary Bird
and Parallel Mind, The Art of Creativity: The (missing) manual for your right brain

LinkedIn: The First Step in Building Your Online Reputation

If you want to be known professionally, use a service for professionals. Bad design does not help your professional image. Social networking services such as Facebook are not good for your purposes.

Register on a professional networking site such as LinkedIn. This free service allows you to build your profile, find connections from your address book, and make and receive recommendations. I have been using this service since 2008 and now have over 500 direct connections. I even was able to make contact with some people who I hadn’t been able to find otherwise. I have received five recommendations from clients and associates.

Once you have entered some of your connections, then go back to your profile page to see happened to your information. When I did this, I saw that each of my connections have links to other people, the number of mine range from 1 (me) to an outstanding 182 for my associate Aaron Marcus, an expert on User Interface design.

The person who has the most connections wins in the networking game; here it is visible to the eye: the more connections your connections have, the more opportunities can come your way.

The recommendations other people have submitted for me enhance my reputation online. I network at events and parties. Anyone who may want to employ me for my expertise in public relations and communications will want to check my reputation before they hire me; all they have to do is check my Linked In profile. There they can read my professional profile, see my photo, and read the recommendations from satisfied clients and associates that show me to be a professional who knows my field, has integrity and gets the job done.

Copyright Aliyah Marr

Aliyah Marr owns several groups on LinkedIn, including Caffeinated Creatives, which has over 5200 members, mostly advertising executives and design firm owners worldwide.

30 Flat and Funky WordPress Themes –



via 30 Flat and Funky WordPress Themes –

Copy that Sizzles

Your copy can make or break your website; the content on your site should support your product, company or service. When it doesn’t, sites don’t work. Common content errors include:

Endless Sand and not a Drop to Drink.
Lost in an unending desert of words and the endless scrolling page, your readers expire from exhaustion before they can reach the oasis of truth.

The Three Second Countdown Extended to a Twenty Second Download.
On the web we have three seconds to grab someone, but your page takes a full twenty seconds to download.

Your Readers Feel Like They Are on a Bad Date.
The user can’t figure out why they should stay on your site. It’s so boring that they can’t wait to leave.

…Or on a Blind Date.
The keywords on your page do not reflect your content. The search engine sent them here, but they don’t know why they are here. There is no “duh” page that lets them know that they are where they want to be: with YOU.

No, Toto — We’re Not in Kansas Anymore.
The search engine landed the user in your website, otherwise known as Terra Incognita. Nothing resembles anything on THEIR map of familiar landmarks, and desired vistas. They are disoriented and decide to leave quickly before the flying monkeys arrive.

“Lost In a Dark Forest Wandering.”
Meandering, pointless phrases or countless buttons confuse your reader with too many choices. They are lost in a forest of choices.

You Have Too Many Keys to the Same Door.
On the other hand, the writer who tries to fit in as many keywords as possible makes a meaningless mash for the human viewer.

Confronted with A Maze of Information, the Player Gets Discouraged and Leaves the Game.
A reader gets tired easily from information that is not presented logically and from the user’s point of view.

Copyright Aliyah Marr

Aliyah Marr is the author of Squawk! Social Media for the Solitary BirdShare

Art Resources for Game Creation

One of things I constantly run into is “where to find new images?” I believe that most designers have this ongoing issue–and it doesn’t help that we should be very conscious of the rights of the image creator. This is combined with a need for speed and for comping images that may never hit the page, virtual or printed. My personal favorite in the list below is Wikimedia Commons.

I have been working on recreating my Tarot game, and found this new POD card printer online. Here is a list of image resources that they provide.


This list includes sites that offer free and pay-to-use artwork. You will not find places to contract artists for custom artwork. Basically, these are resources that offer the designer immediate gratification.

Free Art

Flickr Advanced Search: Flickr’s Advanced search has a similar option allowing you to search through people’s photos that have a Creative Commons license, some of which would allow reuse in a commercial product like a game. Just make sure you check the boxes that allow for “Commercial use” and “modification/adaptation”.

Dingbat Depot: Fonts that are iconic.

Google Advanced Image Search: Google’s Advanced search includes a Usage Rights filter that allows you to search for images that allow commercial reuse.

Cliker: Royalty free and public domain clip art.

MorgueFile: A collection of over 200,000 stock photos that are all licensed under the MorgueFile license, which allows commercial reuse, adaptation and does not require attribution.

Open Font Library: Collection of 169 fonts licensed for commercial use under the Open Font License.

DaFont: A huge collection of beautiful, free fonts. Be sure to check the usage rights of each particular font you intend to use. While many are royalty-free to use, some are not.

Larabie Fonts: Ray Larabie offers free fonts for both personal and commercial use.

Open Clip Art Library: Collection of 20,000 clip art images released into the Public Domain.

Open Game Art: A collection of video game and board game art made available for free or attribution.

Spiral Graphics: offers free versions of their high-end texture-creation software. They provide many modifiable and customizable textures that you can use in commercial projects royalty-free (see usage rights here). Both Genetica Viewer and Wood Workshop are amazing tools for creating tileable, high-res textures, the latter for wooden textures, the former for almost everything else.

Stock.Xchng: Another collection of over 350,000 stock photos that are licensed for commercial use as long as you are not selling the images themselves (e.g. – a T-shirt with the image on it). Using the images to enhance other creative works such as books, websites, or games would be OK.

Wikimedia Commons: Over 5 million public domain and Creative Commons licensed images.

L3DT (Large 3D Terrain Generator): Free version has some limitations on map size, but otherwise a very good program for generating textured 3D terrain, height maps, and other things. Great for creating realistic landscapes.

Pay To Use Art

Pixmac: The Pixmac Picture Market offers stock photos and vector illustrations for all of your printing needs. Prices are very reasonable and they also have over 45,000 free images available.

RPGNow Stock Art: RPGNow is a PDF publisher that offers a decent number (877) of reasonably priced collections of stock art that can be reused royalty-free in your game once you purchase a license. Great resource if you’re looking for some cheap fantasy art (which is often hard to find at “typical” free image repositories). A couple million stock photos as cheap as a couple dollars each. About 10 million stock clip art images.

Getty Images: The largest purveyor of images in the world. Also sells music and and stock video footage.

Shutterstock: Possibly the best stock photo provider out there with over 16 million images in its library. Also sells stock video footage.



“Finding” the Cover Design For Laura Van Den Bergs Find Me

Rejected Covers is an ongoing series for which artists reveal their inspirations and unused design ideas for popular titles. Below, designer Nayon Cho discusses the illustrations that were considered but ultimately discarded for Laura van den Berg’s novel Find Me.

Find Me is the second of Laura van den Berg’s books I’ve been lucky enough to work on. The first was The Isle of Youth, a brilliant, fierce, and heartbreaking collection of stories. With Find Me, Laura tops herself and masters surreal, beautiful, and magical territory. Laura is also a dear friend of mine, so with both books I felt extra pressure to create a design that would do justice to her writing.

The novel is divided into two parts. In the first, the protagonist, Joy, is in the midst of a deadly epidemic sweeping the country. She is lost and alone, an orphan abandoned by her mother as a baby, but lucky enough to have a natural immunity against this mysterious illness. She and others like her are sequestered in a hospital in Kansas, to be studied for a potential cure. In the second half of the novel, Joy escapes from the hospital and embarks on a cross-country journey to find her mother, whom she believes lives in the Florida Keys.

After reading the manuscript, I was struck by two motifs: 1) bare tree branches in the winter, starkly outlined against the sky; and 2) the gradual transition from a cold and white world (Kansas in winter) to a warm and colorful one (the Florida Keys). My first attempts focused entirely on how to combine these two ideas into one cohesive design. The results were largely unsatisfying. I just couldn’t get my ideas across clearly and succinctly. I was tangled in a web of concepts that were a little too abstract, a little too hard to grasp.

find me 1

find me 3

find me 2

I decided to change course and incorporate a more personal, human feel. The winter scenes in Kansas inspired me to use sugar to represent snow, into which I drew the title with my finger. I wanted it to feel like a note Joy might have left on a snow-covered windshield, an ephemeral cri de coeur. In one version I paired the sugar with a moody photograph of two figures walking through a deserted landscape. I overlaid it with warm colors to hint at the end point of the characters’ journey. In another I changed perspective and used the title itself as the snowy landscape, with two tiny figures trudging across it. But this wasn’t the right direction either. Legibility was a problem, both of the title and the concept.

find me 4

find me 5

So I simplified even further. Snow and ice is a dominant theme, but so is the fierce life force and strength within Joy. I found a close up photograph of ice in a rich, vibrant blue. I set the title in a real font, in all caps. And I embedded the type within the ice, to reflect both paralysis and potential. With just a bit of warmth, that type could break free. I still liked the idea of playing with scale, so I included the walking figures in my first round.

find me 6

But everyone agreed they made the book feel small. With a quick deletion, we had our final jacket.

Rejected Cover Designs For Laura Van Den Bergs Find Me.

Inspiring Book Covers | theBookDesigners

With the plethora of novice “designers” out there, it is very refreshing to see some professionally designed book covers. File this under “Eye Candy.” A nice breadth and range of designs are represented on this site.

Work | theBookDesigners

Work | theBookDesigners

Work | theBookDesigners

Work | theBookDesigners

Work | theBookDesigners

Work | theBookDesigners

See more here: Work | theBookDesigners.

3 Simple Recession-Proof Businesses

By Aliyah Marr

Thinking of starting a new business? Any good business person knows that there are opportunities in every economic climate. It’s a matter of seeing trends and knowing how and when to act.

  1. See the trend under the news increased environmental awareness, people have less money to spend, people want real community experiences
  2. Know what people want and need save money, expect value, good customer service
  3. Time it right know when to start a business, and when to reform a business
  4. Location, location, location be sensitive to the local needs and traffic of your community
  5. Think simple sometimes this is the hardest of all, because we hear stories of fabulously successful businesses after they are big and complex, however, companies like Apple started in a garage.

Two of the following small businesses cash in on people’s need to save money and help the environment. All of these businesses address the needs of the local community which has a year-round athletic populace, and tourism in the summer. All three are known in the community; the surfing shop has offered surfing movies and live bands in their parking lot during hot summer nights.

Progression Surf co-exists very harmoniously with its many local competitors by specializing in used surfboards. They have the largest selection of used boards of any surf shop I have ever seen. They also have a good surfboard and wetsuit rental business, because they are only two blocks away from the ocean.

CBSis a bicycle shop near the ocean that rescues and restores old bikes, and offers rentals and repairs. Specialty: beach cruisers. Doesn’t compete with the two other bike shops in town which offer expensive new bikes and service the racing bikes of professional cyclists.

It’s a strange conundrum that while the surfer is often the most vocal environmentalist, he has to use non-environmental products for surfing, such as surfboards and wetsuits. Swell-stuff is a wetsuit-repair shop offering to keep your current wetsuit on you, and out of the landfill as long as possible.

Copyright Aliyah Marr

The 8 Worst Fonts In The World | Co.Design | business + design


We’d need another book, of course, to do this justice. And where would one start?

Fonts are like cars on the street—we notice only the most beautiful or ugly, the funniest or the flashiest. The vast majority roll on regardless. There may be many reasons why we dislike or distrust certain fonts, and overuse and misuse are only starting points. Fonts may trigger memory as pungently as perfume: Gill Sans can summon up exam papers. Trajan may remind us of lousy choices at the cinema (you’ll see it on the posters of more bad films than any other font) and grueling evenings with Russell Crowe. There was a time when it looked as though he would only appear in films—A Beautiful Mind; Master and Commander; Mystery, Alaska—if the marketing team promised to use Trajan in its pseudo-Roman glory on all its promotional material (There is a funny and rather alarming YouTube clip about this.)

SIMONSON BELIEVES THAT SOME TYPEFACES ARE “NOVICE MAGNETS.”Most of the time we only notice typeface mistakes, or things before or behind their times. In the 1930s, people tutted over Futura and predicted fleeting fame; today we may be outraged by the grunge fonts Blackshirt and Aftershock Debris, but in a decade they may be everywhere, and a decade after that we may be bored with their blandness. Fortunately, choosing the worst fonts in the world is not merely an exercise in taste and personal vindictiveness—there has been academic research. In 2007, Anthony Cahalan published his study of font popularity (or otherwise) as part of Mark Batty’s Typographic Papers Series (Volume 1). He had sent an online questionnaire to more than a hundred designers, and asked them to identify: A) the fonts they used most B) the ones they believed were most highly visible C) the ones they liked least.


  1. Frutiger (23 respondents)
  2. Helvetica/Helvetica Neue (21)
  3. Futura (15)
  4. Gill Sans (13)
  5. Univers (11)
  6. Garamond (10)
  7. Bembo
  8. Franklin Gothic (8)
  9. Minion (7)
  10. Arial


  1. Helvetica/Helvetica Neue (29)
  2. Meta (13)
  3. Gill Sans (9)
  4. Rotis (8)
  5. Arial (7)
  6. ITC Officina Sans (4)
  7. Futura (3)
  8. Bold Italic Techno; FF Info; Mrs Eaves; Swiss; TheSans; Times New Roman (2)


  1. Times New Roman (19)
  2. Helvetica/Helvetica Neue (18)
  3. Brush Script (13)
  4. Arial
  5. Courier (8)
  6. Rotis
  7. Souvenir (6)
  8. Grunge Fonts (generic) (5)
  9. Avant Garde
  10. Gill Sans (4)
  11. Comic Sans (3)

The 8 Worst Fonts In The World | Co.Design | business + design.

Packaging is King

How Do YOU Package Yourself?

Many people make the mistake of assuming that creativity or originality is what sells. This is so not true. If it were, people would be buying original paintings instead of cheap reproductions. They would value a hand-knitted sweater over a cashmere name brand. Instead, people have values that restrain them to the known, to what other people value, to what makes them look good, and to what is useful to them

In a recent coaching session, a client of mine revealed that she was concerned about what exactly she was selling. I realized that she is ready to market herself, but like many of us has trepidations about committing herself to her path. The excuse that she is using to keep herself from moving forward is that she doesn’t have a product or service that is exclusively hers. This is just an excuse: after all, how many products out there are truly original or exclusive? New companies would have a very hard time starting for tripping over all the trademarks and patents out there.

One of the prime precepts of marketing success is “knowing your customer.” But how does one reconcile monetary success with following one’s heart: doing what one loves? I know many, many artists who do what they love and make not one penny from their art.

“Agoncillo – Würth Rioja, Museo 30 – Christo” by Zarateman – Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons –,_Museo_30_-_Christo.JPG#/media/File:Agoncillo_-_W%C3%BCrth_Rioja,_Museo_30_-_Christo.JPG

All else being equal, what is it that makes one idea successful and another not? It boils down to one thing: the packaging. In the final analysis, it is not the content that sells, it is the packaging. I am not suggesting that one should not provide good content, but no matter the quality of your product, if you do not know your customer, you do not know how to present your content in a way he can value.

It is rather like a good date or marriage: you and your potential customer are in a relationship. You can paint a portrait of your ideal client, you know him so well. Thus, you know what he prefers in the way of imagery, colors, words, style, “look and feel.” This qualities are what a good designer can define: every communication, publication, brochure, press release, and website should adhere to the communication style and preferences of your consumer.

In order to effectively self-promote, you have to create a package that is you. It is not important that you be original — although great original packaging is worth it’s weight in gold — think of the countless jean brands out there. What sells the high-priced designer brand over the low-priced generic? Some people will claim it is the designer; and that is often true, but it is the successful image imparted in the advertising: it is the packaging or marketing that is really selling those cloth pants.

In figuring out how you are going to package yourself, your product or your service, it is important that you know who you want as a client and how what you want to do coincides with that clients hopes and desires. The benefits of knowing you, of your product or services are perfectly matched with that client’s style of communication, preferences and secret dreams. How well you match these will be the measure of your success.

The perfect client with the perfect package is a match made in heaven!

Copyright Aliyah Marr

Aliyah Marr is the author of Squawk! Social Media for the Solitary Bird

What Do You Want? Making a Life Plan from a Vision Statement

The following is intended to help you envision what you want, so you can figure out what you have to offer others. Before you promote what you are, you need to know what you want. Once you know what you want, and what pleases you, you can figure out everything else: what you can offer others, who your market is, and how you are going to go about achieving your dream.


A tool to help you envision your life: here you identify what you want so that you can ask the universe for the support you need. Without knowing what you want, how can you achieve it? I have adapted this from the commercial world.

Life Plan Summary

  • Description of what you offer to the world

RIGHT BRAIN: what is your dream/idea

LEFT BRAIN: how is your dream grounded in reality

  • All material aspects
  • The amount of money you are looking for and what it is for.

The Dream Team

  • Visualize your Dream Team
  • Use Existing Models of People You Admire

Products or Services

What inspires you? Serving others? Teaching? This is the real energetic/emotional componet of your product/service. You should feel very clear and enthusiastic when thinking of what you want to acheive.


  • What service / product do you offer the world?
  • What are the benefits you bring.
  • Why your product or service?

The Market

  • Customers (partners/allies/neighbors/extended family/tribe)
  • Paint a potrait of who will buy from you

Competitors (cooperators/symbiotic partners)

  • Lists their names, their strength and weaknesses.
  • How your product or service differ from their of your competitors.
  • Strategic Planning
  • Given the stated vision stated above, what are you asking for specifically and when?
  • Identify the stages in your plan.
  • Set reasonable deadlines for these goals.
  • What is the logical next step?

Copyright Aliyah Marr

Aliyah Marr is the author of Squawk! Social Media for the Solitary Bird and Parallel Mind, The Art of Creativity: The (missing) manual for your right brain

Marketing Tips for Everyone

Whether you are simply applying for a job or starting a new company, basic marketing principles still apply. If you haven’t already, go to earlier articles on this blog to complete your vision/mission statement and life plan.

Now that you know who you are and what you offer, use the following basic questions to help you focus your marketing efforts:

Who: who is your target market? Even if you are a job seeker, it is a good idea to make a portrait of your client. Say you are looking for a job as a IT tech; it would be a good idea to use keywords in your resume that pertain to those interests. You will be writing your resume to appeal to your ideal employer (target market), use his language, make sure you write your resume to fit his expectations. A good deal of marketing depends upon an accurate portrait of the target client. You have to match your ad to the expectations of the potential client, otherwise you will have lost him before you can even get your message heard.

What: what product or service are you offering? This involves knowing yourself. Only offer what you want to do, not what you are experienced at, otherwise you will find yourself in an unhappy position. You can use your ad writing experience, or use a professional, to phrase what you do in the most favorable light. If you know what your target wants you can figure out how to offer it to them.

Where: where are you offering it? In a retail store, on the web, on eBay, on Amazon, etc.

Why: why are people going to buy from you? Why you and not someone else? What distinguishes you? What is your brand? This is where the mission statement and your slogan or sound bite comes in handy (see next article).

How: how is your product/service different? How are you going to deliver that product/service? By email, mail, going onsite, etc.

Copyright Aliyah Marr

Aliyah Marr is the author of Squawk! Social Media for the Solitary Bird and Parallel Mind, The Art of Creativity: The (missing) manual for your right brain

Know Thyself

It might seem silly, but most of us never learn to define who and what we are, and what we are bringing to the table. To promote yourself, whether writing a resume or creating a new world order, you have to first know who you are. I recommend that you take a few minutes to develop a personal vision / mission statement. Here’s how:

Develop a Personal Vision / Mission Statement

It is important to know what you are about before taking your first step into your new life. A Personal Vision / Mission Statement can help clarify the path and keep you on it in the future, should you get confused or lost. It is a fluid container for your future self.

STEP 1: Think about what is important to you. What makes you feel fulfilled and happy? Teaching, writing, helping others, making money, etc. Make a list of these things.

STEP 2: List your strengths. Now combine these two lists and extrapolate a statement of who you are, what you bring to others and what you want to bring to the world.

STEP 3: Envision the following: the perfect lifestyle, job, relationship, home, finances, etc. Be as specific as possible: where do you want to live, who do you want to be with, what do you want to be doing? Don’t be afraid to dream big: this is brainstorming! It is important at this stage not to limit your imagination (or yourself).

STEP 4 (optional): If you are having problems creating positive scenarios, then write down, by way of contrast, a list of what is NOT working in your life on the left side of a piece of paper. Draw a line down the middle of the sheet of paper and write down the positive opposite of each point on the right side. Now that you know what you want, you can stop focusing on what you don’t want (thereby attracting more of that negative stuff to you) and focus instead on what you DO want. You might want to tear or cut the sheet of paper in the middle and ceremoniously burn it, as a kind of confirmation of your new focus.

STEP 5: Now, given your new information, write a paragraph of the life you want, in the present tense, as if you are already living it.

Copyright Aliyah Marr

Aliyah Marr is the author of Squawk! Social Media for the Solitary Bird

Book Illustration Basics for Writers & Illustrators Alike

Man-Dog/Dog-Man © Aliyah Marr (reversible diptych)

You Want to Be a Book Illustrator

I recommend going to school and getting professional training. Take design and illustration courses from working professionals in the field. The design department of a university or art school is a great place to start. I would say that design skills are more essential than illustration skills in this field, since illustration can range from “raw art” (naive) styles to hyper-realistic art.

An illustrator or artist sells rights to their work, not the original, unless the piece was commissioned, in which case the work probably belongs to the agency. This is called “work for hire” and basically means that in accepting the commission, the artist has given up all ownership and even copyright rights to the work. They may not even get their name in the credits, although it is considered a good practice to credit the illustrator and designer. However, getting your work on a book cover is a great way to advertise your art.

There are three ways to work as a book illustrator:

  1. ARTIST’S WAY — make a portfolio of work that you think will appeal to a certain genre of books, for example, romance and sci-fi/fantasy always need good illustrators.
  2. EMPLOYEE’S WAY — work as an illustrator for a publishing company.
  3. FREELANCER’S WAY — establish a portfolio of work (best to specialize in 1-2 genres), and do custom work.

Should a book illustrator worry about “work for hire” or retaining some of their rights? I don’t think so; this is because book illustrations are too visible in the public sphere to be able to be used for any other book covers; no client would agree to letting you sell the book cover twice.

An illustrator should be able to retain the right to use their artwork in a personal project. An example of this might be a choice to use the illustration as an interior illustration in your own book. I have done this with my full-color book, Celestial Navigation.

You Are a Writer/Publisher and Want to Buy or Commission Illustration for Your Book

  1. Expect to pay a minimum of $500 for your book illustration. More rights are more expensive; a traditional rights agreement is North American rights, however, with the international book market, you should negotiate for world-wide rights, and pay the illustrator more. After all, your book cover illustration is one of your key marketing tools.
  2. Please, please do not allow yourself to be too literal in your approach. Educate yourself on good design by looking at award-winning books. The covers of these books are almost never literal interpretations of what is inside the book, and good design often plays a bigger part in the cover than the illustration. Research the idea of how metaphor  can be used in design/illustration to convey a subtle yet powerful idea. Hire a sophisticated illustrator, someone whose work wins awards; preferably someone who went to art school or got a degree in art or design. Your nephew or the cheap illustrator that you find on the internet is probably not going to help you, and the resultant illustration is more likely to make your book look cheap and unprofessional. Nothing screams SELF-PUBLISHED and AMATEUR like a naive or literal book cover illustration.
  3. Do you really need illustration? Look at your genre, especially the book covers that win awards. Are they designed (just typography) or designed and illustrated?
  4. The best books are designed well. Hire a good designer, and let the designer choose the illustration. Clients often get off-track because they try to hire the illustrator directly, without understanding the value of good design, or understanding what makes a good illustration. A good designer–educated in design in art school–has sophisticated tastes that can put your book in the running for awards and best-selling status. Letting an amateur designer design your book is analogous to letting your ten-year old nephew design and sew your business clothes.

From Wikipedia
A work made for hire (sometimes abbreviated as work for hire or WFH) is a work created by an employee as part of his or her job, or a work created on behalf of a client where all parties agree in writing to the WFH designation. It is an exception to the general rule that the person who actually creates a work is the legally recognized author of that work. According to copyright law in the United States and certain other copyright jurisdictions, if a work is “made for hire”, the employer—not the employee—is considered the legal author. In some countries, this is known as corporate authorship. The incorporated entity serving as an employer may be a corporation or other legal entity, an organization, or an individual.[1]

The actual creator may or may not be publicly credited for the work, and this credit does not affect its legal status. States that are party to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works recognize separately copyrights and moral rights, with moral rights including the right of the actual creators to publicly identify themselves as such, and to maintain the integrity of their work.

For example, Microsoft hired many programmers to develop the Windows operating system, which is credited simply to Microsoft Corporation. By contrast, Adobe Systems lists many of the developers of Photoshop in its credits. In both cases, the software is the property of the employing company. In both cases, the actual creators have moral rights. Similarly, newspapers routinely credit news articles written by their staff, and publishers credit the writers and illustrators who produce comic books featuring characters such as Batman or Spider-Man, but the publishers hold copyrights to the work. However, articles published in academic journals, or work produced by freelancers for magazines, are not generally works created as a work for hire, which is why it is common for the publisher to require the copyright owner, the author, to sign a copyright transfer, a short legal document transferring specific author copyrights to the publisher. In this case the authors retain those copyrights in their work not granted to the publisher.