The problem with fonts

I’m a self-confessed typeface fanatic. Being both a writer and a visual artist, the appearance of fonts means a lot to me. So when I start seeing people complain endlessly about one font or another used for submissions, I both understand, and find occasion to resent their outlook.

It’s fine to have a favoured typeface. Everyone who deals with text probably does! But unless an editor or agent has specifically and clearly stated in their submission guidelines that they expect a certain font, they don’t get the freedom to judge a piece if someone is using a perfectly neat and professional typeface (Times, Garamond, Courier, so on).

This comes about because I once read an article by an editor, one of those “writers tips” kind of pieces. In it, this person made some noises about being biased against submissions printed in Courier. There was an implication made that a writer submitting in Courier was doing it all for appearances, to try and make themselves seem more “genuine” as an author or some bizarre conception.

As a person who chooses to write in Courier (Dark Courier, to be precise), I felt pretty irritated. If I submit in Courier, it’s because that’s A) what I use personally, B) a very common industry standard, and C) they haven’t said not to. I like monospace fonts very much. They are comfortable and clear to read while I’m typing, and they’re very neat and tidy in print. When it comes down to it, Courier was the accepted norm for so many years, it’s just unprofessional for an editor to act like anyone using it is doing so for show.

Don’t get me wrong: if an editor, agent or any other industry professional specifically states that they would like to receive submissions in a certain typeface, by all means, a bit of exasperation is expected if they still get submissions in a different font. A writer should read and follow the submission guidelines of every individual they approach. As long as the editor/agent’s expectations have been made easily accessible and easy to understand, there’s no good excuse for them not to be followed.

But if there’s nothing specific to go on, I’ll be submitting hard copies in my size 12, indented, double-spaced Dark Courier. If someone doesn’t like that font, they need to make their preferences clear from the outset.