As I try to understand how one would publish a large chess book, it feels that chess gives some pretty custom requirements for an editor or publisher. I am pretty sure that chess authors use Chessbase or similar software for writing their books and then pass them off to editors who proofread and do all the final layout and typesetting for printed version. Since Chessbase does not support proper document management (export to RTF is as far as it goes), and layout software like InDesign don't support adding chess diagrams, do software publishers like Gambit, Everyman chess, Quality Chess, etc have their own chess aware custom publishing tools? Or do editors just use regular publishing software and then insert diagrams by hand to optimize for page space as they see fit, with plenty of room for manual errors (i.e. inserting diagrams that don't match the moves)?

  • Dunno the general case (so this is a comment), but German chess problem journal "Die Schwalbe" at least have their own fonts (not surprising given the need for fairy chess symbols). Mar 3 at 13:43

This is less a question about chess, than a publishing question. The answer is:

No. The publishing industry largely uses publishing software (open source, and proprietary) to publish books, including chess books. You've named one - InDesign.

Software such as Adobe's InDesign or Open Source software such as SILE or LaTex can lay out a book given the correct font. Fonts can be used with Typesetting software to represent positions and pieces.

For example a common book font is Chess Mérida:

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This font also includes black backgrounds and pieces on backgrounds so you can make images such as:

enter image description here

The font converts that from the text:

$ + + + +%  
$+ + + + %  
$ + + + +%  
$+ + + + %  

(Download the font here and cut that text into a Word Document and change the text to the Chess font and see for yourself)

You can find many chess fonts to use with your publishing software here.

  • 2
    I can't answer for Gambit, but I can ask some of my friends with experience working there. If you want to typeset books on your own, consider LaTeX with skak package. Seems to work well, according to sharelatex.com/learn/Chess_notation
    – Timothy Ha
    May 20 '17 at 8:36

I also had this question, and as a graphic designer, I was stunned to find no real solution was created for InDesign, and LaTeX was the only viable option to typeset a book or magazine.

So I took it upon myself to write a script to create scalable chess diagrams from FEN notation. I also created a font family for figurine chess notation. I know it's late for this. But no one else has created it, and I figure someone will find my solution helpful.

Here is a video to show how easy it is to use.

enter image description here

For more information and to download the free script and font, see my website.


All publishers have their own software and standards for publishing.

Are you self publishing and printing your own book? If not then you must ask whoever will print or publish the book what their requirements are.

When I was a small publisher looking at this I just used a chess font and arranged the diagrams myself. But that was several decades ago. Now there is fancier software to help book layout including chess specific ones.


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