Academic writing and font setting.

landingshortly's picture

Hello there.

I am currently writing on my BA thesis and I thought I'd ask for some help here. Since it's my first thesis paper and I am quite interested in making things look neat and clean, I wanted to ask if anybody had suggestions what fonts to use.

My research field is the quality debate in online market-research; a relatively young branch in market-research and something young and modern would totally fit the purpose.

At the moment I thought about using Futura Medium in headlines and ITC New Baskerville Roman for the text-parts. Is this a good combination? I tried setting the headlines bold but the bold Futura looks a bit too strong.

I would be really grateful if someone could give me a hand in helping me to pick the right fonts to make my thesis paper not only good concerning quality but also neatly looking.

Thanks a lot!

blank's picture

Don’t use ITC New Baskerville for body copy, it gets mushy and gross at those sizes. I wouldn’t recommend any Baskerville if you aren’t having it printed professionally; even really great laser printers can have trouble rendering Baskerville well enough that cranky professors with poor eyesight won’t mind dealing with it.

Futura is going to overwhelm just about any Baskerville; and really, the geometry of the designs just clash.

landingshortly's picture

Okay, thanks! I did not even know that! So is there anything else that's printer-friendly and clean looking? I even thought of using MS's Office:mac 08 Calibri & Cambria combination but I thought about this one paper where my lecturer was simply stunned by me using Sabon (I was trying out things though) ... and that's why I think it is important my thesis paper looks good.

It's clear to me that I want to use a sans-serif for topics and a serif font for the body. The body would be 12 pt and the headings probably 16 pt but I know it totally depends on what fonts I use.

I want to 1.5-space the paper as double-spacing looks gross.

So ... I won't ask about my options here because I know there a plenty ... but are there any good combinations you already tried you could pass on to me?


Edit: sorry, forgot to mention ... I'll have my paper printed out professionally as the dad of a good friend is a professional bookbinder and he got the machines to print out things the proper way!

Robert Trogman's picture

You just about had the proper contrast. I would use Futura Demi as the subhead and go to the original Monotype or foundry version of Baskerville.
I have often used Futura demi with Garamond No. 3 for some the academic printing. Another thing to consider is what kind of paper your going to use. Baskerville for smooth finish paper and matte or vellum finish for Garamond.
Good Luck

Quincunx's picture

Check this thread for a selection of contemporary serif typefaces (the link is direct to a post within the thread). I think a modern typeface could be a nice touch, instead of using the usual ones like Garamond and such.

EK's picture

You can find some recommendations, guidelines, and specimens here:

Eluard's picture

Though I certainly wouldn't consider using Futura with Baskerville I will say that I use Monotype Baskerville for just about all my academic work. (I use LaTeX and XeLaTeX for pretty much everything and Word only for making notes.) I think Centaur is a stunningly beautiful face, particularly in the new OpenType version. (Nothing like metal Centaur, but still looks very nice.)

Robert Trogman's picture

I suggested Futura as a contrast to the text for a subhead. Quicunx—What do you consider a usual typeface? I've been selecting type for the past 65 and have never run across a usual typeface in the 50 best books of the year.

Linda Cunningham's picture

1. Ask your supervisor.

2. Check to see if there is some requirement of your school. The faculty I wrote my Masters in let you do pretty much anything you wanted, but every other graduate degree at my uni made you do everything (and I mean everything) in 12 pt Courier.

3. If all else fails, use a really common sans for heads and a really common serif for text, particularly if your thesis has to be filed as a pdf or scanned into your national archive. Helvetica and Times are the lowest common denominators.

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