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Top ten book body text fonts?

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As a self-published author who does my own book design (such as it is) and typesetting, I always struggle with getting the "right" body text combination of typeface selection, font size, and line spacing. I am a registered member of three web forums for writers. On one of them, another member and I have been discussing the notion of putting out a book to showcase several of the "best" typefaces for body text, reproducing two or three pages of some actual book in various combinations of typeface, size (probably 10-point and 11-point) and line spacing (1.0, 1.05, 1.10 and 1.15 for each font and size). If I do even ten typefaces, that's going to be a fairly thick book.


I would like to ask the typography experts here for your suggestions as to what the top ten typefaces for book body text would be. To make it more difficult, since this book will be aimed at amateurs and neophytes, I want to stay with fonts they won't have to buy. Some are included with Windows, and beyond the Windows fonts I would like to limit any others to fonts that are available for free (for commercial use) from sites such as Font Squirrel, DaFont, or 1,001 Fonts.


I'm starting with Times New Roman, not because I think anyone should use it for a book but because everybody is accustomed to it, so it will serve as the baseline for comparison. Beyond that, what I have so far is:

  • Baskerville
  • Book Antiqua (???)
  • Bookman Old Style
  • Caslon
  • Century (Century Schoolbook? Are they equally good/bad?)
  • Crimson
  • Garamond
  • Georgia
  • Palatino Linotype

Is there a free (for commercial use) version of Sabon/Savoy available?


Thank you.

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Bjørn Edvard Torbo

I have soft spots for Kings Caslon, Minion and Hoefler Text. Adobe Garamond Premium and Adobe Jenson are fantastic too, and I feel I should mention Sabon by Jan Tschichold as well. 

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Bjørn Edvard Torbo

Oh, and I remember reading Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz while staying at a hotel in Trondheim and spontaneously buying both Trump Medieval and Aquinas (the latter in all caps, for chapter titles) as a result. Such a pleasant reading experience. 

Edited by Bjørn Edvard Torbo
precision, clarification
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