What’s the right font weight for an eBook?

A quick tip regarding font weights in body text. To achieve a pleasant experience for your readers, your goal is to haven an even typographic color, right? And by color, I mean you should aim for sufficient contrast between text and background. The body text will set the expectations for that, so if you combine anything with it in a similar role, make it as similar as possible.

Let’s see an example here. I checked the typography for the eBook Losing my Religions by Matt Ball. His font choice is Lora for the body text and Raleway for pull quotes, captions, and page numbers. A decent font choice, but I see a little problem with the different weights.

Avoid light weights for small, longer text

Before, Matt used Raleway Regular for the quote. Compared to Lora Regular for the body text above it, it seems too delicate, having too little contrast to the background. This makes it harder to read. So I changed it to Raleway Medium. The same goes for the page number in the footer, which was Raleway Extra Light before.

I think the intention behind the light weight was to set it a bit more apart from the body text. But since Raleway is used for a different kind of text, which is also set differently, and over all a different typeface, it’s not necessary. I recommend achieving this by making it similar to the rest of the body text, regarding the contrast, even if that means setting it in Medium.

Both typefaces were Regular weights, why do they look different?

Across different typefaces, even if weights have the same weight, they do not look the same. There is no standard for font weights. And the font size will also play a role in that. So if you set something a bit smaller, you might have to increase the weight to make it a bit sturdier.

What do you think of my suggestions? Tell me in the comments below!


  1. Letters’ weight is the trickiest thing in setting and matching the fonts. I’m glad you brought up this topic!

    I don’t like that Matt used Raleway at all and not even with Karla. Two different sensibilities. I don’t know what the book is about to tell which one fits better. But together, definitely a no.

    Lora and Karla are a good pair. Karla and Inter.
    Spectral is a nice font but its weight is not sustainable!

  2. *I don’t like that Matt used Raleway at all and not even with Karla. – I thought Lora, not Karla here!

  3. With regard to Kindles, possibly the biggest eReader device out there, as a customer you are stuck with the fonts installed. Amazon have done a pretty good job regarding typography and the ability to control it.

    1. Thanks for bringing this up, Chris. You’re right. And it’s absolutely okay that Amazon did this. I know the foundry behind Bookerly, which is a very well-made custom typeface for Kindle. It is okay to give the reade control to change the settings and size, when it’s an open format. Many eBooks still seem to be published as pdf. And for that you can then pick a specific typeface, of course.

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