exercise specifications, objectives, some examples below, most recent at top.

Sachplakate (object poster)
independent project involving type only
specsif poster —
incorporating image (or other representation) of one object (but what object, and how represented, at how much detail?) plus information about that object (in several hierarchical layers, all in type).
three versions of same poster (showing item in different representations)

if independent project —
will likely stem from your original reasons for taking this class : e.g., what you expected to learn, your objectives. project must be scaled such that it is completed on Monday 7 December.

timeassigned 23 November
conclusion Monday 7 December
objectivesPutting it all together, typographically. Grid, structure, paragraph styles. Composition. Consistency of style.


In other semesters, we would be embarking on either an aphorism/type specimen project, or a poster about an architect. Our field guide exercise eventually morphed, in scale, to be equal to the aphorism book project, and so I’ve made adjustments. You are of course welcome to make a poster series about an architect or building, typically promoting a symposium or lecture on that architect.

Or your own project (provided you can complete it in the time remaining to us; the typographic design should, however, not be something you were limited to doing before you took this class, but needs to incorporate what you've learned since.

Whichever route you take, it should reflect everything you’ve learned and encountered this semester, technically but also in terms of discipline.

Architecture and alphabet exercise from previous semesters described here.


Detail, our letterpress broadside, typeset 26 October, printed 2 November. Nonsense sentences derived from our Typographic Field Guide exercise. Typeface and other details (e.g., who did what) at the montserratdesign tumblr.
Thanks to Sarah Hulsey for expert guidance, demonstrations, setup and press cleanup.

specsA résumé of yourself, or a fictional or real other. Two versions:
  1. gridded, analytical (= contents grouped and arranged spatially); 8.5 x 11 inch paper; multiple pages ok.
  2. and, either
    narrative (contents handled in sentences, paragraphs; need not exactly duplicate content in #1), 8.5 x 11 inch paper;
    another form, any size, need not be flat paper, but appropriate to your strategy.
  3. business card (2 x 3.5 inches)

The résumés need not be truthful, and indeed can be about a fictitious person, or someone other than yourself. But both versions of the résumé should be about the same person, actual or fictitious.

timeassigned 2 November
conclusion Monday 16 November (tricky, because of missing two consecutive Wednesday meetings)
objectivesPreparation of content for different formats (here, multi-column grid, and narrative or other format);
differentiation of content types, and consistent formatting of those via paragraph styles (making use of space before and after, roman / italic / smallcaps; etc.
for some, thinking how printed résumé might relate to web version.



typographic field guide
briefRecord (by means including photographs, drawing, even rubbings!), minimum five different words encountered in the world — in/on the streets, gravestones, signs, asphalt, telephone poles, sky (skywriting), etc. Hand lettered or not (vinyl type etc ok). More than five ok. Beverly, elsewhere/other urban/suburban/rural landscapes. The words are not to be found in a book or magazine.

These words should be formable into a sentence; helping (other) words may be used, that we will typeset in the normal way.

We will discuss these in class in terms of style (even trying to classify and perhaps identify them).

We will assemble books (or a book) containing the visuals and documentation/analysis. We may also develop a poster with all of our collective content.

We will discuss whether we would like to share our images, presumably via Google Drive. If we proceed this way, you will need to name your files you files, using the naming protocol like this: mcvey_23_essex.jpg, dipietro_309_rantoul_1.jpg, dipietro_309_rantoul_2.jpg.

Choose page and/or spread aspect ratio, that works best with the nature of your word images. Tall? wide? Squarish? All commentary, identifications, captions, locational information etc., will also need to be accommodated. The latter especially will involve use of a grid. How many columns? Rows? Engineer into the grid and layout enough flexibility so that typeset information can move around, where and as the word images require it.

Your solutions will very possibly involve placing at least some type within the image, either straight, or bold, or reversed (and bold) where image is dark.

specsdimensions pending.
timeassign Wednesday 7 October
conclusion Monday 2 November (tentative)

To work and gain fluency with

  1. reflecting and talking about the formal, expressive and other aspects of letterforms encountered in the world;
  2. typographic classifications;
  3. working type in with image (image in the case being of words);
  4. work within formal constraints.

Earlier manifestations of this project had to do with vernacular typography in Beverly. There were books and, several years ago, a web presentation too.


Lee Friedlander, Letters from the People (1993)
Alastair Johnston, Musings on the Vernacular (1988)

One of several photos of scars from scraped-off letters in window of now vanished Dave’s Hobby Shop, on Cabot Street.

More, and larger, at
memorial minute and
memorial minute 2


on printing spreads, and printing books

on printing page spreads (with crop marks) —

  1. File > Print
  2. General
    Pages / All (or specify range, e.g., 1-2, 6-7)
    Options / Print Blank Pages
  3. Page Setup (lower left of print box)
    Format For / select black and white / grayscale printer
    Paper Size / tabloid (11x17)
    Orientation / horizontal (landscape)
  4. Setup (be sure orientation is right)
    Page Position / Centered (very important)
  5. Marks and Bleed
    Crop Marks / ON

on printing books (without crop marks)
books should have a multiple of four pages (e.g., 28, 32, 36, 40) —

  1. File > Print Booklet (way down at the bottom)
  2. Preview / it will probably look wrong; we'll need to make adjustments in Print Settings
  3. Print Settings (at bottom)
    this will look familiar (what we saw above in printing ordinary pages/spreads)
    Go through the above routine —
  4. General
    Pages / All (or specify range, e.g., 1-2, 6-7)
    Options / Print Blank Pages
  5. Page Setup (lower left of print box)
    Format For / select black and white / grayscale printer
    Paper Size / tabloid (11x17)
    Orientation / horizontal (landscape)
  6. Setup (be sure orientation is right)
    Page Position / Centered (very important)
  7. Marks and Bleed
    Crop Marks / OFF (ON ok too, but not so necessary in printing book)
  8. Printer (at bottom)
    Two-Sided Printing / click ON
    Short-edge Binding (important)


poems and a book to contain them
specsA book containing minimum five poems, of any length (or shape) or size. Poems may be conventional or concrete/visual. All poems are to be created from language taken from either lingodroids or geological text.
timeassign Monday 21 September
conclusion Weds 7 October

To work and gain fluency with

  1. expressive and informational aspects of typographic design, and synthesize these;
  2. master page-defined multi-page layouts incorporating content (poetry) and paratextual elements (e.g., title page, page numbers);
  3. sequencing, expressive and conventional poetic forms;
  4. work within limits (page size)

the work

All language to be drawn from either

  1. Schulz et al, Lingodroids: Studies in Spatial Cognition and Language (2001), or
  2. Plate Tectonics and Geomagnetic Reversals, readings with introductions by Allan Cox (Freeman, 1973).

Both texts pertain to kinds of landscape or terrain: either movement of plates, or of two robots upon the terrain. This gives us an opportunity to think about the page, the two-page spread (including the gutter), and the sequence of pages itself as a kind of terrain, across which one encounters typographic features.

before the book, the poems

The poetry might take two forms: (1) conventional poetry, set up in lines, possibly involving rhymes and metrics, etc., and (2) concrete poetry, emphasizing form over literal meanings of words, and yet derived from those words.

Concrete poetry is a movement, sometimes also called visual poetry (often abbreviated as vispo) that derives meaning from physical elements of words and letters, arranged sometimes in shapes, but sometimes in ways that suggest process or some witty inflection of a word or phrase’s meaning or meanings. More typically, a concrete poem defies a conventional reading.

All five must be created by you. You may mix forms in the book (conventional, concrete). Vocabulary is limited to what you find in the text provided by the instructor.

Book size
6 inches (36p0) by 9 inches (54p0)
suggested margins : outside, inside and top : 6p0
bottom : 8p0 (to accommodate page numbers, say 5p0 from bottom.
document bleed : 2p0.

This size allows us to print on 11x17 tabloid (landscape orientation), as spreads (for inspection) and later print booklet mode for saddlestitched/stapled binding. However, other production modes are acceptable. (other size may be selected, with instructor’s approval: our focus is on typography, not experimental and/or elaborate book structure.

The instructor will endeavor to provide different paper stocks for final production.

You may use a full spread for one poem. And even more pages than that! You might also present five conventional poems, each illustrated by a concrete or visual poem.

after the poems, the book

The completed volume will integrate:

  1. front and back matter, including
    half title and title pages,
    table of contents,
    a two-page introduction (written by you, or extracted from your article),
    colophon or bibliography
  2. the poetry itself, and
  3. page numbers, running heads or footers (if any)

Typefaces : start with Minion Pro, Futura Std, Univers, Garamond Premier Pro.

Use paragraph and character styles wherever appropriate (that is, for any text content that is suited to consistent control, throughout the book).

More details on the lingodroid material —
Ruth Schulz, Arren Glover, Michael J. Milford, Gordon Wyeth, Janet Wiles. Lingodroids: Studies in Spatial Cognition and Language.
2011 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 9-13, 2011, Shanghai, China

The Lingodroids are a pair of mobile robots that evolve a language for places and relationships between places (based on distance and direction). Each robot in these studies has its own understanding of the layout of the world, based on its unique experiences and exploration of the environment. Despite having different internal representations of the world, the robots are able to develop a common lexicon for places, and then use simple sentences to explain and understand relationships between places — even places that they could not physically experience, such as areas behind closed doors. By learning the language, the robots are able to develop representations for places that are inaccessible to them, and later, when the doors are opened, use those representations to perform goal-directed behavior.

PDF of the above text can be accessed via this University of Queensland page devoted to lingodroid publications, and directly here.
Or see Robot species that evolve a common language (6 May 2013) here.

Their 30 lovely, dada-istic toponyms are

boho   —   fexo   —   fili   —   futo   —   gige   —   heto   —   higo   —   jaro   —   jaya   —   juhe   —   kiyi   —   kopo   —   kuzo   —   liye   —   mira   —   pize   —   pucu   —   qoze   —   reya   —   rije   —   ruhe   —   sihu   —   soqe   —   vaji   —   xala   —   xapo   —   yaro   —   yifi   —   zuce   —   zuya

Toponyms in red from the initial lexicon.


  1. Numerous examples of conventional, experimental and concrete/visual poetry books will be available in the room each day.
  2. Jost Hochuli, Robin Kinross, Designing Books: Practice and Theory (London: Hyphen, 1996), for examples of title, table of contents etc designs
  3. Richard Hendel’s discussion of the design of his On Book Design (New Haven: Yale UP, 1998), that includes the full typesetting specifications for that volume. Our work with paragraph styles in InDesign is our introduction to such specifications.


index, (ordered) list, cloud (paragraph studies, 2)
specsIndex any source text (20 entries, more is better). Six columns

You may use the grid as you feel best suited to your material. This will depend in part on the length of text you will be indexing, the size in which it is presented, and the length of your index. See below for one possible organization of the page.

  1. Index indicates not page but line numbers.
  2. A second version indicates not page but paragraph numbers.
    See Bullets and Numbering discussion in Sandee Cohen InDesign CC, especially pp 64-65.
  3. Third version treats indexicality in a different way.
    By purely typographic means, draw attention to specific words or phrases in the source text, perhaps expressing something about them, e.g., their frequency in the text, or importance.
    Nicholas Felton’s Feltron annual reports provide an example of visualization (taken to extremes); tag clouds also were mentioned as a possible model.
  4. size (all versions) : tabloid, six-column grid.
  1. part 2

    from same source text, select words that could be a title and author of a book (also year). on our paragraph studies grid (8.5 x 11, either column width), design four different title pages (same content on each).

timeassigned Wednesday 16 March
conclusion Monday 21 March
objectivesfurther experience with paragraph styles; examine models; think of ways to present lists, tags, and the like.
title page (for book containing same source text): front matter experiments, before we embark on poetry book

This exercise is preparatory to a poetry book we will be creating (making/typesetting poems, designing front and back matter, etc, and actually producing books.

First job is to create the index. We will be using our source text for an index, list, and some sort of tag cloud or other visual representation of frequency or importance of terms (final form yet to be determined).

For Monday, bring in your text, indexed by you; and bring in a single book with an index — chosen from your books, for the quality or interest of the index.

 index, one configuration: six columns: three for text, one for line numbers, one for index, one blank.
baseline grid is same as text (and line number) leading.
exterior margins not shown.

The baseline grid is a convenient way to align text and line numbers. To set baseline grid : inDesign > Preferences > Grids > Baseline Grid : increment every [     ] (0p18 above), relative to : top margin

 index, close view of text and line numbers.

text : MillerText 14/18;
left justify;
word spacing 90% 100% 110%;
measure three 9p2 columns plus two 1p0 margins = 29p6

line numbers : MillerText 9/18;
align right; right indent 8p0;
col width 9p2

 index, close view of line numbers and index.

index : MillerText 10/12.5;
align left (rag right);
left indent 1p0; first line indent –1p0
col width 9p2

The third version of the index project will probably present a more visual means of providing access to, and understanding of, the source text, compared with the conventional indexes.


paragraph studies 1
specsparagraph (style) settings — alignment, hyphenation, word spacing, maybe letter spacing.
  1. Create letter-size page (51p0 x 66p0). Facing pages off.
    Margins: 4p0 top, 7p0 bottom, 6p0 left, 13p0 right.
  2. note —
    You can also create new margins in the layout > margins and columns menu. Do this for the master page (by double clicking on it, and then adjusting layout); or if you do it for the first page, drag that new layout up to, and drop into, the master page.
  3. Create text box, pour in text.
  4. Typeset in 18 point type, one each left and left justified. All Minion Pro Regular.
  5. Create a paragraph style for each, with a name that makes sense.
  6. Our job is to get the cleanest, most even read we can achieve, with the settings available via Indents and Spacing (for alignment), Hyphenation, and Justification. We’re trying to avoid rivers, excessive word spacing, etc.
  7. Now, create a new master page (click on A-Master, go to layout, duplicate, and go into layout again > Margins and Columns, and change right margin to 19p0. And see if your existing paragraph styles work best in this new narrower column. You may need to adjust (create new paragraph styles to do so).
  8. For fun, either left or (probably best) left justified, do an extreme version for the first wider version. Illegible ok: use extreme settings for justification, e.g., negative letterspacing). Push it until it breaks.
  9. Important
    At the bottom, you should present the settings you’ve used on that page.
  10. Text is a single paragraph from An interview with Susan Howe, conducted by Lynn Keller. Contemporary Literature 36:1 (Spring 1995): 1–34. It is appended below, being a paragraph that begins At the time, Marcia and concludes with Just as a sailboat needs wind and water. It is also available via yaleunion.org).
    Note that there is one italicized word, and two m-dashes (option+shift+hyphen).
timeMonday 14 September
review on Wednesday 16 September
objectivesgetting a sense of what we can control in paragraphs to achieve comfortable reading, even grays, avoidance of excessive white spaces between words, and rivers of white down a column.
introduction to paragraph style settings.

Highly recommend a glance at the Rrose Sélavy (Marcel Duchamp): Some French Moderns Says McBride (1922) (low resolution scan, at 12MB, quite good enough!) for interesting example of increasing type size through successive pages.

 ex Rrose Sélavy (Marcel Duchamp): Some French Moderns Says McBride (1922); Beinecke Library copy

Duchamp described his idea for layout in a June 1922 letter to McBride: The brochure would have 26 or 27 pages (front–back) since each letter is on a page of its own. Now, if I have enough room, I propose the following: Set off on the first page with minute characters, ending up on the last page with big characters, making the characters progressively larger with each page. [..] I have already chosen the typeface ranging from 5 pt for the first page to 12 or more for the last page which will have 5 words (I think). With each page, the typeface, from the same family, will gradually increase in size. The first two articles on Cézanne will have to be read with a magnifying glass. And about the illustrations: My idea is to incorporate them into the text by gluing them onto the binding strip. I think it will be better to spread them out. (from Duchamp, Selected Correspondence, 2000)

source text

At the time, Marcia, whose work I have always admired, was filling small sketch books with repetitive pencil strokes. She would start one at the top left corner, page 1 and continue until the end, so there were no actual words but the page was filled the way it might be in a printed book. Generally each book was filled with a different kind of stroke or mark. For some reason her books set me off, and I started in a different way with the standard four-by-six-inch (Classic Sketch Book is the brand name). As the pages are blank and the cover blank (black), there is no up or down, backwards or forwards. You impose a direction by beginning. But where Marcia was using gestural marks, I used words. It was another way of making word lists but now in a horizontal rather than vertical direction, so there was a wall of words. In this weird way I moved into writing physically because this was concerned with gesture, the mark of the hand and the pen or pencil, the connection between eye and hand. One reason I like the drawings of Joseph Beuys so much is that it seems to me he is doing both things at once. There is another, more unconscious element here, of course: the mark as an acoustic signal or charge. I think you go one way or another—towards drawing or towards having words sound the meaning. Somehow I went the second way and began writing. Ever since, I have used these little black books as a beginning for any poems I work on. Though my work has changed a lot, those books the poems begin to form in have not. I’ve never really lost the sense that words, even single letters, are images. The look of a word is part of its meaning—the meaning that escapes dictionary definition, or rather doesn’t escape but is bound up with it. Just as a sailboat needs wind and water.

An interview with Susan Howe, conducted by Lynn Keller. Contemporary Literature 36:1 (Spring 1995): 1–34


typeface comparisons
 Project is in two parts :
analytical (drawn), and
presentation in two posters, 11x17 inches.
  1. Compare two typefaces, each from a different category as grouped in the Adobe Type Library — Venetian Oldstyle, Garalde, Transitional, Didone (Modern), Geometric, and Humanist.
    example pairs:
    Adobe Garamond (Garalde), and Baskerville (transitional); or
    Bodoni (Didone) versus Optima (Humanist).
  2. Choose three or four letters, and draw these (in two different typefaces) by hand, until you can do it almost from memory, without tracing or looking. Think about x-height (at a given type size), stroke width, relationship of thicks and thins, axis (for letters like o and e. You may practice at any size (not too small, but not so large that it slows your practice).
  3. Your drawings of the letters, from the two typefaces, should be good enough to allow us to see that they are different typefaces.
  4. On Wednesday, present these letters in several (three two) compositions (for each of the two typefaces). letters lined up next to each other, or oriented in other ways too (e.g., as if creating a monogram of three letters). Letters should be approximately four inches high.
  1. three posters. 11x17 inches.
  2. two demonstrate the two respective typefaces
  3. use your drawn letters (scanned, perhaps at 150ppi), and/or actual type (preferably both)
  4. a third combines the two typefaces, in way that points up, or exploits, their differences.
  5. include comments about details (including details of your own drawings)
  6. and sufficient number of words (from Gertrude Stein?) so that we get a sense of how the typeface looks in a line or two.
  7. use grid as appropriate.
timeassign Wednesday 2 March
(Monday 7 March is holiday)
look at sketches Weds 9 March (and continue with posters)
Monday crit (start of class), and discussion of paragraph style details

Close analytical inspection of different typefaces.
consistency of presentation (across three posters)
use of grid as appropriate; use of rules (thin lines) and other features to focus on salient details



grid studies
specstypographic compositions, InDesign, tabloid

text from Gertrude Stein Descriptions of Literature. Instructor will distribute transcription; or access pdf here.

  1. two compositions, all Univers (one weight): in one of these, all type 8pt, in the other, multiple sizes ok.
    examples (slightly different specs, several years ago)
  2. two compositions, as above, plus arbitrary graphic shape(s), derived from counter between letters.
    The graphic shape shall be the space between two letters. More than one such shape can be used on a page. You may derive it by hand (and then scanned), or via Photoshop or Illustrator. See Cyrus Highsmith for example.
    Scroll down to see two examples by Lisa Martinez, from Spring 2014.
    Structure your information in a disciplined, interesting way that takes full advantage of limitations (grid, margins, the shape) and the opportunities that result.
    Type may be reversed out of the shape (by changing its color from black to white)
    all type should respect the grid.
    We discussed the importance of counter space, letter space, and line space to the creation of an evenly textured paragraph and page. See the important discussion of this matter — and the examples — in Cyrus Highsmith, his Inside Paragraphs, pages 12-25.
timeMonday 31 August (introduction)
conclusion Wednesday 2 September (and perhaps through to the 9th)
objectivesuse of grid, for structured typographic elements, and unstructured graphics

Some of us incorporated a grid in our form and space exercise; now we work with a grid on a larger canvas, wherein we compose with grid-behaving typographic content, and some graphic stuff, that may be either randomly or intentionally placed.

first, some extracts

A grid breaks space or time into regular units. A grid can be simple or complex, specific or generic, tightly defined or loosely interpreted. Typographic grids are all about control. They establish a system for arranging content within the space of page, screen or built environment.
      Ellen Lupton, Thinking with Type

The use of the grid as an ordering system is the expression of a certain mental attitude inasmuch as it shows that the designer conceives his work in terms that are constructive and oriented to the future.
This is the expression of a professional ethos: the designer’s work should have the clearly intelligible, objective, functional and aesthetic quality of mathematical thinking...
Working with grid systems means submitting to laws of universal validity.
The use of the grid system means submitting to laws of universal validity.
The use of the grid system imples the will to systematize, to clarify...

      ex Joseph Müller-Brockmann, his Grid and Design Philosophy (1981),

There’s nothing like putting stuff in boxes. (or something to that effect)
      Muriel Cooper (somewhere)

The grid is an important underlying principle of typographic organization : spatial organization; hierarchies; rhythm; structure. Judicious use of grids gives permission for empty spaces, if there’s nothing to occupy them. The grid, and a systematic approach to design generally, also helps us to find and exploit opportunities (opportunities afforded by structure).

the work

two grid studies, using Futura Std, with type of same sizes/weights — e.g., Book weight, 8pt). Any more than the minimum two may include type of different sizes (and weight).
large graphic elements (derived from space between two typographic letters).

specifications — 11 x 17 inches (66p0 x 102p0).
six columns, nine rows.
exterior margin 3p0, but 8p6 at bottom.
each column 9p2 wide
each row 9p2 high, with a
1p0 margin between rows.

Open InDesign CC.
New document. Tabloid (66p0 x 102p0). Turn facing pages off.
Go to (and click on) master page (top of the little layout window at upper right; if not there, top menu > window > pages)
Change default margins from 3 picas (= 1/2 inch). Make them 3p0 at left, right and top, and 8p6 at bottom). Open.
Choose Layout > Create Guides. Enter 6 columns, 9 rows. important: Options: Fit guides to Margins.
OK, look at your document. Should have six columns, nine rows with 1p0 margins between them. To add pages, Layout > Add or insert pages.

You’ll need to bring your graphic into the document, too. Scan, copy and paste, or place the image file into the page you’re working with. Make it large. Low resolution is ok.

Making the letter space a thing
Here (briefly) are two ways, using Illustrator.

first —

  1. text (type two or three letters)
  2. top menu > type > create outlines
  3. object > ungroup, and
    compound paths > release
  4. with Direct Section tool, select each of the sections you want to remove, and delete, one at a time. if you accidentally delete, undo, click out of object, then select a section again, to repeat. takes some patience.
  5. with Direct Section tool, click at end of one outline path
  6. holding down shift, click at end of another outline path to which you want to join it, with a straight path
  7. top menu > object > paths > join paths
  8. repeat this elsewhere
  9. now select all, and
    object > compound paths > make
  10. top menu > preview (should fill with black
second —
  1. text (type two or three letters)
  2. top menu > type > create outlines
  3. object > ungroup, and
    release compound paths
  4. create a shape (rectangular, but could be any) over area you want to work with.
    draw it over the area of interest
    select all
    use Pathfinder (top menu, window > Pathfinder)
    bottom left icon > Divide
  5. object > ungroup (again)
    pieces should be separately movable now.

To see full page, View > Fit Page in Window.
To view page without grid/guide lines, go to bottom of vertical tool bar, click and hold on the small black arrow at bottom right of icon, and select preview.
To view page with grid/guidelines, same action but click on normal.
Finally, to see type rather than grey greeking rule, go to InDesign > Preferences > Display Performance > Greek Type (change from 7p to 4p). It will be too small to read, but will look more like type.

reminder 2
See also Cyrus Highsmith, his discussion of Type Design, in Nancy Skolos and Thomas Wedell, Graphic Design Process : From Problem to Solution, 20 Case Studies (2012) : pages 78-87


 Shown above, four grid studies by Yang Li (Dante), Fall 2011.
 Lisa Martinez, Grid Studies, 11x17 inches, example no. 1
 Lisa Martinez, Grid Studies, 11x17 inches, example no. 2


form and space, 1
specstypographic compositions, presented in four 11-inch squares (all traced).
  1. Content is text of a short poem by Alejandra Pizarnik.
  2. All versions using Futura Medium.
  3. Each square must use all 18 words (of the Pizarnik). The words need not be fully legible.
  4. All type is to be horizontal or vertical baseline (but can be upside down, or facing right or left.
  5. one word (or letter, or element) may be any orientation, in each of the four.
  6. grid optional (will discuss in class)
  7. In both versions, you may trace only sections of, or cut through, single letters or words.)
timeWeds 26 September
conclusion Monday 31 September (review)
launch grid exercise, intro to Indesign
objectivesThis is largely a 2D design exercise.
As long as the words can be read, we’re more interested in activating the square space. Densities. Relationships. Masses. Relationship of massed shapes (of any size) with each other and the edges. Edges matter. Textures / grays.
Watch out for dead space. (hint: a single letter, even a period, in an otherwise dead space, can save it.)


This project is devoted to the dynamics of the 11 inch square space, texture, and its typographic content.

Typography is, in the first place, 2-dimensional design. There are exceptions and, indeed, the 2-D world is an abstraction : books are three dimensional, pages exist within them. Signage exists in space, within which we move relative to the sign. Etc.

But staying on the flat plane, for now, typography is about activation, control, modulation of gray (and colored) matter in space, across a sequence of such spaces. It also involves using white (empty) space dynamically. Elements need not be distributed evenly across a page (unless it's a novel, for example).

(The exercise was originally intended to emphasize that what appears on screen has no direct reference to what is printed on paper. Type that looks one size on screen, for example, looks very different when printed.)

We’ll work with the (English) words in this poem —

The Great Words
      To Antonio Porchia

it is not now yet
now is never

it is not now yet
now and forever
is never

Las Grandes Palabras
      a Antonio Porchia

aún no es ahora
ahora es nunca

aún no es ahora
ahora y siempre
es nunca

Alejandra Pizarnik (1936-72), from Los trabajos y las noches / Works and Nights (1965)
Alejandra Pizarnik, Selected Poems (translated by Ceclia Rossi), Waterloo Press (2010)

more on Alejandra Pizarnik
Alejandra Pizarnik, Selected Poems is in the Montserrat Library.
See also wikipedia.

Even in this early, exploratory exercise, we should care about straight edges, square corners, and care about the edge of the field. Our craft should aspire to that of fine furniture.

everything about the class (minus exercise information, which is found on this page) : objectives, expectations, criteria for credit

Project briefs, resources.
tentative (for details on later projects listed below, see course website for Spring 2015.

  1. Form and Space 1 (tracings, collage on bristol)
  2. Form and Space 2 (same, InDesign; later in semester)
  3. grid studies (6 cols, 9 rows; text plus graphic material
  4. typeface comparison (hand drawn, first)
  5. paragraph studies (justification, hyphenation, wordspace, etc. settings; InDesign)
  6. index, ordered list; table of contents
  7. poems and a book to contain them (poems provided, or derived from text in papers on lingodroids, or on plate tectonics)
  8. printing (spreads, and books)
  9. typographic field guide
  10. letterpress exercise (spreads, and books)
  11. résumé (two versions, plus card).
  12. Sachplakate / independent project


Sandee Cohen. InDesign CC (Visual Quickstart Guide, 2014) — highly recommended

Adobe Font Folio 11, Type Reference Guide
recommended (and always in classroom); a booklet presenting names of all these typefaces, and groupings of many of these in various type classifications, will be distributed in the first week or two of class.

Cyrus Highsmith. Inside Paragraphs (2012)


Adobe Typography Primer pdf
a 20-page concise and useful overview; includes glossary. recommended.

bookmarks on design related anythings at pinboard.in/u:disegno.

montserrat design tumblr

imposition press tumblr

Comments/questions to jmcvey.