Kindle Publishing: Kindle Default Fonts

Please be aware: This article was written 02/17/10 Amazon continually upgrades software; some info in this article may have changed.
Selecting Your Fonts

OK, we’ve got a nice clean file, cleared of all MS Word format code, except for paragraph returns.

As we said last time, it looks pretty naked, but we can use MS Word to pretty it up in a hurry.

Highlight a few words of your text, then, pull down Format (from the top bar), just as you did before, and look at the Styles and Formatting box at the right of your screen.

Most likely you will see only a few items in that box, and the single-line box at the top, labeled “Formatting of selected text” (that’s the text you just selected) will display “Normal”.

Normal is the default text on your computer, and it is “probably” Times Roman 12… at least that’s what it is on my MS Word 2003.

It is governed by the “Normal” MS Word template.  That’s an internal file of MS Word that requires way too many words to discuss here… let’s just say that it controls the appearance of your MS Word text, according to however MS Word originally set it, or however you – or the person in charge of your computer – changed it.

But, actually, it doesn’t really matter what your default type font is… Kindle will turn it into its own default type font.

Whether that makes you happy or sad will likely depend on whether you were working with a cluttered messy old file, or one that you had labored long and hard over to format with your own ideas of fancy and/or pretty fonts.

But whether we  are glad or mad doesn’t matter… and why the Kindle does it, doesn’t matter… we have to work with what the Kindle will display

As far as I can determine, the Kindle will display only two fonts (or typefaces, to use the technically-correct term), a default font that resembles Times Roman, and a mono-spaced font that resembles Courier.

You can choose variations of those typefaces… big or small, and bold or italics, or underline, and you can alter the spacing, so if you work within those confines, you can create nice-looking pages for the Kindle.

But if you set up your body text in Fancy Font Script, for example, you will still get plain old Kindle default font, so it’s best to resign ourselves to that fact, and figure out what to do about it.

Luckily for us, MS Word has some built-in Formatting Styles that look great on the Kindle.

We’ll talk about that next.

In the meantime, a good book to buy is Stephen Windwalker's Complete User's Guide to the Amazing Amazon Kindle.


  1. I personally prefer the Courier New, 12pt font when I do my writing because, to me at least, it is easier to read and correct than Times New Roman.
    That, plus it looks more 'old school', sort of like a typewriter. It's all about readability to me.

  2. This gets close to a odd problem I'm having.

    It started with the realization that KindleGen was making really big files when converting from EPUB. Twice the size they should be. More specifically, as became clear later, oversize by exactly the amount of the EPUB file.

    One part of the book makes use of the monospace font to denote a computer display of the old terminal style. (It's supposed to be an 80s circa BBS being used decades in the future to circumvent technology restriction laws.) This came out perfectly in the MOBI file KindleGen produced.

    To try and shrink the file, I unzipped the MOBI and fed the bits into MobiPocket Creator to produce a PRC version. This worked well. Even better when I switched out the cover for an optimized version that looked identical but was less than half the size. So I now had a version of the file a mere 40% the size of the MOBI version.

    Except the font change was gone. Instead it was default text throughout. I looked at the files but I cannot find a meaningful difference. The HTML for the chapter loaded into a browser looks exactly as it should. The Kindle did it properly on the MOBI version but ignored the font change in the PRC version.

    Any ideas? Is this a PRC limitation? Is there a way to make KindleGen stop embedding the EPUB source? Except for the file size problem nothing else I've found works as well as KindleGen. Everything else tends to trash the formatting if it isn't utterly plain throughout.

    There is a Python script somebody wrote to remove the embedded EPUB from KindleGen generate MOBI files but it's designed to run from AppleScript on a Mac and I couldn't get it to do anything useful on a PC.

    Outside of that all I can find is a lot of complaints and no solution. Amazon has been utterly silent on the matter.

  3. Well, you got me there.

    I don't use Kindlegen because, being a command line tool, it is a little too abstract for my usual audience of newbies.

    Have you tried Calibre? It creates fairly small MOBI and ePub files. If Amazon doesn't upgrade Mobipocket soon, I may switch to Calibre for my tutorials.

  4. Ah but if you use an EPUB (which I'm always going to make anyway, especially with tools like Sigil to help) Kindle Previewer automatically invokes KindleGen and creates the MOBI for you, saving it in a subdirectory of the location where the EPUB was located. All GUI, no command line, and it generates a log file to alert you to any issues. It's really very nice except for the oversized file problem.

    Calibre, frankly, is nice try but no cigar. It's conversions seriously mangled any but the simplest formatting. If there were an equivalent of Sigil for MOBI files I could fix things after Calibre produce a file but I could say the same if I had a deeper grasp of the coding side in general.

    Besides, if you're concerned about a command line tool being scary for the novices, Calibre is the GUI from Hell. It really needs an overhaul by someone with more design sense. That is one of the worst difficulties many FOSS projects face.

    There is zero chance of MobiPocket seeing any upgrades. Recall that Amazon bought the company several years ago. The team is devoted to KindleGen, Previewer, and whatever other tools they produce. Perhaps they have a plan for a complete turnkey suite to replace Creator but it seems just as likely they'll stop MOBI/PRC development altogether and move to EPUB, which has active development and far more tools (both by people Amazon doesn't need to pay) going for it.

    I'd be just as happy if they did. Making one EPUB and tweaking it for different venues would be a lot easier. There are some nice EPUB features I don't use because it means doing a lot of reworking for Kindle. (Some things like tables are actually supported by the format but not allowed because of how the Kindle does menus. It reduced resource requirements on the first Kindle model but was a bad choice for the long-term.)

  5. The default Kindle font only "resembles Times Roman" insofar as it has serifs. It's PMN Caecilia, a slab serif typeface. I have always thought it was a really good choice on Amazon's part. (Well, Lab126's, actually, the subsidiary that does the Kindle hardware and OS.)

  6. I use MS Word to qrite (I know shoot me). I would love to know how you format text to use the mono-space font. I have code examples in my work and I can't figure out how to make them show as courier on the kindle without editing HTML which is something thatI just don't want to do. Please help!

  7. Unknown,

    Nope, I won't shoot anyone for using Word, as I prefer it myself.

    To get Courier font instead of the Kindle default font, you might try Calibre... it's a free program that seems to be picking up where Mobipocket left off.

    It's a free download... just Google the name.


  8. document written other language fonts do get into problem while converting to kindle format. You end up with only jumbled up machine characters. No luck. see if somebody can help. Thanks

  9. epobris,
    What do you suggest then as a ebook creator if you want multiple files - epub, mobi, and kindle format? I'm creating in microsoft word, and I'm going to use Abode' creative suite.

    Calibre? Mobipocket creator? Sigil?