What font do you use?

Sorry, Jack, but I suspect we’ll have to agree to disagree, here. :slight_smile:

I can’t look at my work objectively, by definition, whether I write in Source Code Pro, Times New Roman, or Comic Sans. I write in fonts that give me two cues, one conscious and one not. The conscious cue is a font that makes every error painfully obvious—i.e., a programming font. The subconscious one is a font that screams “Not finished yet!” and to me that is a monospaced font.

When I want the reader’s perspective (and I do! I do!) I send my work to my beta readers and my editor. They get the fonts they prefer, and let me know just where I’m going wrong from a reader’s perspective. Working with a professional editor and beta readers has vastly improved my writing.

But no, working in a font that lets my eye elide errors and looks like a finished product doesn’t work for me. Believe me, I’ve used WYSIWYG editors since they were invented (literally), and I’m a better writer when I’m using plain monospaced fonts on my screen. (I suppose I could have my old Royal manual refurbished and go all the way back to paper manuscript, but I’m not quite that fanatic!)

But that’s me! Obviously you prefer to work differently, and that’s fine if it works for you. Scrivener will let you work that way if you want. But many new Scrivener users aren’t really clear that Scrivener writing can be quite separate from Scrivener formatting, so I tend to emphasise that in my posts. Truly, I tried to work WYSIWYG in Scriv when I first bought it, and when the light dawned that my manuscript could look like it just came out of a Teletype while I was writing, and yet look as polished as professional typesetting when I compiled output, I felt like the jail door had opened!

So, let’s each have our different ways to work, shall we? I don’t think I’m part of any problem, and I don’t think you’re part of any problem. All writers have the problem of seeing their work as their audience sees it, and you and I tackle that problem in quite different ways. Scrivener lets each of us work the way they prefer.

Authors have only been able to see how their words would look to the reader for the last 30 years at most. Between the invention of the printing press and the first WYSIWYG word processors, writers bunged out the words with quill and pen and typewriter and resolutely monospace fonts and then posted it to the printer who did all the clever visual stuff setting it out on the page. Being able to choose the font you write in is a very modern phenomenon and nothing has changed to make it essential, rather than a personal choice.

Hi Jack,

Good on you to be thinking from the reader’s perspective, and it’s obvious that you feel strongly enough about writing to develop passionate views on the process.

But your point–to communicate most effectively the writer must write the work in the same font that the reader will read the work–is kinda silly, kinda impractical to enforce when you go to publish, and absolutely ignored by any number of great writers who choose to write their great works longhand: Nabokov to Neil Gaiman and the many others in between.

And then there is the reader’s perspective: I am currently reading Moby Dick on my Kindle. If your theory is correct, then by reading it in Bookerly, I am somehow missing out on something that Melville was trying to say, because Bookerly didn’t exist back when The Whale was first published.

Tell me, what meaning am I missing? And what font would I (or any modern reader) have to read the book in to get that meaning back?


This is not an obstacle. This is a botched diagnosis.

I cannot control how readers interpret what I write. No writer can. They can pick up zero of the nuance I put in, or all of them plus more I never intended to. Every person’s experience is different. Communication is not a strict one-way flow of ideas with no variance or equivocation permitted. The differences in interpretation are what make reading and writing so meaningful, the synthesis of viewpoints. Treating this as an obstacle to be overcome rather than a basic characteristic of our reality is like trying to work around inertia.

I like this viewpoint, Devin. Thanks for sharing it.

You’re welcome. It is one I have come to after many years of struggling and being angry. It brings with it a large amount of peace and freedom from responsibilities that are not mine. I don’t have to control how someone interprets what I write – I merely have to make sure that what I write can support my intended interpretation. That is much less work and much more fulfilling.

Me too - very much. And I write non-fiction …

I’m afraid this was a botched understanding. A total misunderstanding. A botched inference. And botched inference is not a good look, on anybody.

I agree it is not something easily overcome. It seems like a total obvious no-brainer that everyone would agree that it is not easily overcome. That’s what makes it the biggest obstacle we face.

Also inferred here may be that the agenda is to remove the obstacle, which also greatly oversimplifies and misunderstands this issue. This also should be plainly obvious, which is that the agenda is not to remove an obstacle that can’t be removed. The agenda is to write so that the obstacle is as minimized as possible for the reader, so that the communication can be its most accurate.

What is important and key in that is being able to understand what that objective view the reader has, is, the best we can, and trying to make the writing shape that view as well as we can, to fit the understanding of the story we are trying to show them. That is the agenda here, communicating the thoughts clearly, and not considering the objective view is not doing the due diligence of doing the best one can for the reader.

This has nothing to do whatsoever with the ego of the author. It is done only for the reader. That should be obvious, but now I wonder if it is.

Only Captain Obvious needs to point out that it is not easily overcome and that the experience is different for every reader. Telling us that violates Aaron Sorkin’s cardinal rule of never telling someone what they already know, which kills what you might be saying, stone cold dead, and removes all credibility. And it forces people who might respond to be obvious, too, since the original understanding was such a botched misunderstanding based on inaccurate inference, not a position comfortable to be in, IMHO.

And I vigorously disagree that communication is not a one-way flow of ideas. In dialogue between two people, or in the Socratic method, ideally it is not.

In written prose, the topic at hand here, which is done, finished, published, bought, and then read, it is without question a single flow in one direction. Based on the laws of space and time, it can be no other way. That’s a difference with a distinction, and that should be as plain as day.

Apparently, now I need to be obvious: Your reader has no option to revise your novel, no matter how badly or arrogantly you write it (assuming it ever reaches publication). It’s one-way communication only.

That makes the agenda to write it well, try to understand what might be their objective view as well as you can, and remove the arrogance of the supposed importance of the egoic author subjective view. Only then does the reader have a fighting chance to understand what the intent is of what is being said. Only then can they benefit from your supposed brilliance.

A reader has a perfect right to parse subtext however they will. That will include inference, but that’s OK. The trick for the writer is to imply in a way which channels the inference toward accuracy. That’s what working hard to understand their objective view does.

But the forum contributor, much more than the reader, has a responsibility to try to understand, and not infer, and to not respond without at least making a minimal effort to understand, first.

Thanks for this, but if you all don’t mind, I’ll just keep pumping them out and waiting for the reader to send money. I don’t care about fonts, as long as the ebook reader presents it one page at a time. Or scrolls it infinitely. I don’t care about what the reader takes away from it, or interprets, or pretends.

The reader can do anything he wants, as long as he buys. He can write a bad review, a good review, or a mediocre review. I don’t care. He can use any font he wants to write the review. I don’t read reviews. I just sit down, move my fingers, and magically, my next product is ready to go in the font of my choice.

All thanks to Scrivener. My production is way up. My cares are way down. All I have to do is produce.

Of course, I’m not writing the world’s next barn-burner, either. I’m just writing what people seem to want to read.

That was a lot of words to end saying a lot of nothing, mate.