ARTS 079 Typography I


Click to go to Typography I website

This course provides an introduction to the study of the letterform as a cornerstone of graphic design. It focuses on how typography can be used as a communicative device as well as a graphic, compositional and expressive element. Areas explored include letterform anatomy, letterform analysis, measuring systems, typographic identification, and practical issues of setting and using type effectively.

This course will provide the groundwork for innovative and effective typographic design practice upon which other concentrated courses within the Graphic Design area can build. The primary objective of Typography relies upon the exploration of letterforms in both theoretical and practical aspects. Typography is the most basic element of design. A solid understanding of its potential in this context will expand to other areas of design beyond this course.

We will examine and gain an understanding of the function of typography as communicative element and graphic element. Through the structure of studio lectures, demonstrations, discussions, projects, and critiques we will explore basic components of typography including but not limited to: letterform anatomy, letterform analysis, measuring systems, typographic identification, practical issues of setting and using type effectively, form and counter form issues, hierarchy, legibility, type as conduit for meaning, and content as well as other issues related to visual problem solving through typographic form.

Assignments are geared to applying and exploring the possibilities inherent in the theoretical principles introduced; they allow
us to focus on meaning aesthetics and functionality in typographic design. Conceptual development, verbal articulation of visual solutions, research, production, and visual, verbal, and written presentation skills are all essential to this course.



Upon completion of this course the student should be able to:

  1. Appreciate typography’s role in design and understand its potential for effective communication.
  2. Identify and distinguish between basic typefaces and identify nuances of specific letterforms.
  3. Apply typographic theory to type setting and use established norms of typography.
  4. Explore specifically the relationship between experimental/visual and functional typographic design with readability as its ultimate goal.
  5. Apply the principles of hierarchy and dominance to typographic elements.
  6. Organize words and images in design layouts using typographic structural systems, alignments and grids.
  7. Develop an understanding of the language of typography, which includes critical theory, critique, history, technology, and craftsmanship.

The objectives will be achieved by:

  1. Completing projects of increasing complexity
  2. In class & homework exercises
  3. Analysis & critique one’s own work & then apply the skill to the work of others
  4. Readings, lectures & discussion of readings


  • Letter 10%
  • Word 10%
  • Text 15%
  • Grid 15%
  • Poster 20%
  • Book 25%


Thinking With Type by Ellen Lupton, Princeton Architectural Press, ISBN 1-56898-448-0 further materials at

Further Reading Resources

Typographic Design: Form and Communication (fourth edition) by Rob Carter, Ben Day, Philip Meggs. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (ISBN: 978-0-471-78390-9)

Typography by Emil Ruder

The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst (second edition) History of Graphic Design by Philip Meggs (LATEST edition)

Purchase following required supplies as needed

  • Three-ring binder notebook
  • Sketchbook, 11″ x 14″
  • Drawing pencils; H, 2B, 2H
  • Bone folder
  • Eraser for Pencil Kneaded eraser
  • French Curve
  • Micron Inking Pens (2), Size 03 (.30mm)
  • Black markers, a variety of widths or weights
  • Metal Rule 18″ with Cork Back (for Cutting)
  • T-Square Steel 18″
  • 9″ Triangles with Beveled Edge for Inking, 45°/90° and 30°/60°/90°Circle Template with Beveled Edge for Inking 1/4″ Diameter and Up  Masking Tape / White Artist Tape (lower tack)
  • White Bristol Smooth Finish, Pad 11” x 14”
  • Tracing Paper pad or 18”x50 Yards Roll
  • 3M Spray Mount or Rubber Cement and Rubber Cement pick up
  • Scissors
  • Xacto Knife, No. 1 and Pack of #11 Blades
  • Cutting Mat
  • Container to carry supplies (tackle box, plastic bucket, etc.)
  • Black solid core mat board
  • Flash media jump drive
  • Portable hard drive


CounterSpace Typography

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