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

a footnote (about design) —

27. Some "anecdata" for what it's worth : The five years I spent running an inter-disciplinary seminar on culture and cognition continually ran into this difference in sensibility, with the humanists interested in getting to a point where the problems could be stated and the social and natural scientists (and their fellow travelers in philosophy) wanting to solve problems once stated. This was met with good cheer.

ex Jonathan Kramnick, "The Interdisciplinary Fallacy," in Representations 140:1 (Fall 2017) : 67-83
at DOI: 10.1525/rep.2017.140.1.67

instructor's observation —
designers might be said to have both sensibilities: (1) work with the material to find and define the problem; and (2) find a solution (or give clarifying form) to that problem, once stated.

Descriptive and Critical Catalogue of Work Done for Typography 1, Fall 2017
specspresentation of every project, with discussion of typographic principles/technical procedures, other learning.

8.5 x 11 (or other)
use grid and paragraph styles.
catalogue every project.
list objectives, some parameters/limitations (be selective)
show specimens (including scans of earliest tracing exercise, if you traced)

your observations:
what did you learn from this exercise (technical, aesthetic, conceptual, formal)
in retrospect, how might you have taken it a different way, if at all? what would you change now?
what was hard? what was less hard?

Catalogue must include:

  1. title :
    Descriptive and Critical Catalogue of Work Done for Typography 1, Fall 2017
    your name
    John McVey, instructor [optional]
  2. table of contents
    and at least one page for each exercise.
    include screen shots or other presentation of selected paragraph and character styles for all exercises that involved them.
  3. Conclusion
    overall assessment of what you learned, didn’t learn but wish you had, and (optionally) of the class generally.

projects are listed at right on this page; this course website provides requirements and objectives for every exercise.

timeassigned Thursday 30 November
delivery Tuesday 12 December
demonstration of understanding of basic principles and typographic practices as learned in this class

architecture and alphabet
specsposter announcing talk by, or about, a significant architect or architectural practice.
a book, employing language by an architect, and exemplifying features of her/his architectural style/approach.
  1. Poster to include title of event/name of architect; place and time;event description; contact information (e-mail); and possibly montserrat logo.
  2. landscape architecture, and even artifacts of architectural practice, including models, may figure in this exercise.
  3. Primary emphasis of either poster or book should be typographic.
timeassigned Thursday 9 November
conclusion Thursday 30 November
examplesseveral examples from previous years, of posters and books, at
sources (not including books)Pritzker Prize laureates are listed, by year and name, here.

Women in architecture (wikipedia)

see list further below (many of whom are subjects of monographs that you have access to

objectivesWorking with type and typographic structure, whilst exploring an architect or building and seeking some correspondence between the two realms.

The type may capture/embody that style, or be inspired by the architectural source.

Typographic elements — whether in poster or book — are to be disciplined, and governed by paragraph and character styles, and grid or other coherent principles of arrangement.


Many are the metaphorical parallels and analogues between letters and buildings. Buildings have been laid out on alphabetical principles. Typography shares with architecture a concern with detail and a concern about shaping and giving character to a larger space. Architecture provides a language to space and, by defining (limiting) it, allows it to be this and not that, lets it speak.Typographic and building detail provide signposts: the entrance to a building can be indicated solely by design inflection, or by a conventional sign that says entrance; the various entrances into a text are indented, mutely, by a paragraph indent.

Architecture, engineering, letter and typographic design share concerns with proportion, weight, measurements, clarity of purpose, distinctiveness, aesthetic versus functional objectives, etc.


Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn, Frank Lloyd Wright, Zaha Hadid, Tadao Ando, Daniel Libeskind, Frank Gehry,
Lebbeus Woods —
The Radical and Contagious Ideas of
Architecture and Resistance (important. at his own blog) (alas, requires Flash)
Lebbeus Woods (wikipedia)
BLDGBLOG interview (2007)
Diller + Scofido, Shigeru Ban, Tadao Ando, Toyo Ito, Peter Zumthor, Samuel Mockbee (and Rural Studio), Rem Koolhaas, Reiser + Umemoto, et al.


  1. The concrete presence of seeking, clarity, balance, spacial energy, entry of light, layering, material and precision, measurement, vertical/horizontal and proportion, harmony within itself and the drawing of thoughts are in my mind essential terms of architectonic thinking. The constructed space is open in all directions. Architecture begins before architecture.

    Heinz Tesar, Notate

  2. Architecture has its own realm. It has a special physical relationship with life. I do not think of it primarily as either a message or a symbol, but as an envelope and background for life which goes on in and around it, a sensitive container for the rhythm of footsteps on the floor, for the concentration of work, for the silence of sleep.

    Peter Zumthor

  3. Half-resentful because compelled to read the signs pressing on the eyes everywhere... Demoralization of the eye began: names obliterating everything. Names and what they would do for you or with you or to you for your money. Shutting your eyes didn’t end it, for then you heard them louder than you saw them. They would begin to mix with absurd effect and you need take nothing to get the effect of another extravaganza. Letters this time. Another ballet, of A. B. C. D. E. F. G., L. M. N. O. P., X. Y. and Z., the première-danseuse intervening in fantastic dances.

    It would have been a mercy not to have known the alphabet. One pays a heavy toll for the joys of being eye-minded. Ear-minded, too...

    And where was the architecture of the great city... Where was it? Hiding behind these shameless signs?

    Frank Lloyd Wright, on taking the cable car, first day in Chicago; An Autobiography (1943) : 64-65

  4. Architecture is a communicative art. All too often, however, architecture is seen as mute.

    Daniel Libeskind

  5. Move it down... a little to the right.
    That some years ago, some poor sign installer went to put the first letter of the name of the museum up on the wall, and someone screamed, No, you idiot! Lower! Much Lower! Get it down close to the edge. And a quarter-inch to the right. That the building is the Guggenheim Museum, and that the architect was Frank Lloyd Wright, makes this photographic detail especially interesting.

    William Drenttel on Frank Lloyd Wright, and the Guggenheim... here

  6. To the statement that the twenty-two letters of the alphabet are capable of expressing everything (sono bastanti a esprimere il tutto) he adds that if the alphabet were to have been lost and someone were to have suggested expressing all known and recorded facts with twenty-two letters he would certainly have been declared insane.

    Giulio Camillo
    quoted in Werner Oechslin, Architecture and Alphabet. Via 8 (1986): 96-125

  7. What is important for our purposes is that architectural theory and practice of the past two decades has attempted to hone methods for generating "objects" from fields... While collage multiplies and disorients the stable relationship between a figure and a ground, it does not abolish it, whereas folding, whose concept of form is no more (and no less) than a disruption in a continuous surface, precisely stages the becoming of form through variable intensifications and manipulations in a continuous structure. Moreover, folding, like the computer technologies with which it is typically allied, is scalable; not only can it generate a building's plan through the modulation of structural members, but it is a technique for folding the site into the buildings and the buildings into the site.

    David Joselit, After Art (2013): 25-26


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 acceptable, even preferable. 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 (perfect grammar not important). 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).

The catalogue/field guide will take the form of a book; images may bleed (or not — this in fact will be an important factor to consider, as some shots will work better vertically, others horizontally). What are the options?

All images should be accompanied by description (and even identification) of the letterform/typeface, as well as information about location and whatever else you may wish to include. The words should reveal themselves as some kind of sentence or sentences.

Please upload images to the 212F17 team drive (the team drive would enable us to use each other's photographs; we will discuss this in class on Thursday). To avoid confusion, name your individual files with this protocol: bollinger_23_essex.jpg, bollinger_23_essex_1.jpg (for more than one image of same location), mcgahey_309_rantoul.jpg, etc.

Book will contain title page, table of contents (and page numbers), and an introduction/preface in which you discuss your findings and what you have done with them.

In addition to providing a basis for our books, our sentences will be used in a collaborative letterpress broadside, later in the month.

specsdimensions pending.
timeassign Thursday 26 October
conclusion Thursday 9 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)


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.
    the contents of the two versions need not be the same, but must regard the same person.
  3. business card (2 x 3.5 inches)
  4. cover letter (optional)
  5. write advertisement of the job you are applying for (optional)
    examine job descriptions, e.g., at

Read the chapter "First Steps" in Juliette Cezzar, The AIGA Guide to Careers in Graphic and Communiation Design (2017), with particular attention to How design managers read resumes (pp 114-115).
The book is excellent. By reading the entire chapter, you will see that the résumé is one item in a context — finding the job, responding, having some kind of web presence and a current (and relevant) portfolio, etc.

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 Tuesday 24 October
conclusion Thursday 2 November
no class Tuesday 31 October (Advising Day)
  1. Preparation of content for different formats (here, multi-column grid, and narrative or other format, e.g., typewritten, even handwritten or illustrated);
  2. differentiation of content types, and consistent formatting of those via paragraph styles (making use of space before and after, roman / italic / smallcaps; etc.
  3. for some, thinking how printed résumé might relate to web version.



letterforms 2D > 3D > 2D
specsformal exercise, several transformations
yielding material for informational poster
timeone-week exercise.
  1. carefully cut out two (minimum) or three (maximum) typographic letters, from stiff paper
    distributed in class, or provided by student; best means is to print large letters on ordinary paper, tape letters to stiff paper, and carefully cut through both sheets with x-acto knife.
    minimum height 3 inches baseline to top of ascender.
  2. combine these two or three letters in three-dimensional compositions
    you will probably need to cut slits in letters, so that letters can run through or otherwise attach to each other.
    the letters need not be the same size
  3. photograph these, with attention to interesting form
    shadows will naturally be part of the compositions.

    upload ten (well, 6 or 8 at least) photos to the 212F17 google drive (everyone has been added as a member, and should have received a notice regarding that). these need not be the highest resolution.
    (the photos may be of different arrangements of the 2-3 letters)

    shown below are four quick example photographs, of the lower case letters e and d

  4. from these (or additional subsequent shots), choose one or more for use in a poster;
  5. theme of the poster will relate to the two or three letters (e.g., acronomyms that the letters spell out, or an exhibit with the title letters and shadows), and additional textual information, e.g., place and time of exhibition. need three different units of information.
    constraints (size, weights):

    Univers or Franklin Gothic (both sans serif)
    three (3) posters, 11x17 inches, each using different shot, full bleed (we will print at 12x19 inches for our finals).
    two posters, all type same size (different weights ok)
    one poster, more than one size ok
    consider using grid, or orienting type to your composition in other ways
    you may use our initial (6 column x 9 row) grid, but you are not required to do so.

objectives assign Thursday 12 October
crit of 3 posters (11x17 ok) on Thurs 19 October, and final printing due following Tuesday


Color photography is fine; letters (and background) can be colored other than black and white, but should be flat (not patterns).
Obviously, we can convert color image to grayscale.
Give yourself enough resolution (image size) so that image can bleed off a poster at least 11x17 inches. Print resolution of about 150ppi is sufficient.


six poems, and a book to contain them
specsA book containing minimum six 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 the lingodroids or the geological text.
timeassign Thursday 28 September
conclusion Thurs 12 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 six 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
suggested, but negotiable (but may not be tiny)
6 inches (36p0) by 9 inches (54p0)
6 1/8 (37p0) by 9 3/4 (58p6)
suggested margins : outside, inside and top : 6p0
bottom : 8p0 (to accommodate page numbers, say 5p0 from bottom.
document bleed : 2p0.

These sizes allow 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 : open (but no novelty/display faces without good reason; start with typefaces you have worked with)

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

lingodroids text
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

examples of student work from previous years

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.


paragraph studies 3, ¶ indicators, index, lists
  1. Three paragraphs, any source (your favorite book)

    Using our tabloid-size, 6-column grid: create three columns, each two grid-columns wide.

    Indicate new paragraphs by indent, outdent, rule (above); small caps (or bold font) for first several words; "space after" (in "Indents and Spacing"). Everything should be defined by paragraph (and even character) styles. Minimum three examples (one in each column). We are using three paragraphs so that we can see what happens between paragraphs.
    see list of possibilities in de Bartolo et al, Explorations in Typography (2nd edn, 2016)

  2. Index your source text (20 entries, more is better).

    One version will indicate not pages but line numbers.

    A second version indicates not page but paragraph numbers (numbered list).
    See Bullets and Numbering discussion in Sandee Cohen InDesign CC, especially pp 64-65.

    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, color coded words, etc., are other possible means.

timeassigned Thursday 21 September
conclusion Thursday 28 September
objectivesfurther experience with paragraph styles; examine models; think of ways to indicate new paragraphs, lists, tags, and the like.

Tuesday, bring in your text: minimum three paragraphs each in three columns, each column showing a different means of indicating new paragraphs. Even better: six such examples.

And, have start creating an index of expressions in your text. You may need to examine some indexes. Bring in a single book with an index — chosen for the quality or interest of the index.

We will do two different indexes, one pointing to line numbers, the other to paragraph numbers. Example of the first index (and its settings) below. I will demonstrate the paragraph number version in class: it will involve "Bullets and Numbering" in Paragraph Styles.

 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


paragraph studies 2 (continued)
specsparagraph (style) settings — alignment, hyphenation, word spacing, maybe letter spacing.

Now create the book to contain the specimens. book will contain

  1. title page and table of contents (referring either to Stein explanations 1 – 6, or to page numbers (inserted manually (not auto)).
  2. The title page design will somehow reflect design of paragraph studies and their respective informational pages.
  3. Examine title pages. How are they arranged? What is on them? Publisher and/or place of publication? date? ctered or left aligned? or something else? and, what typeface, that doesn't favor one of the typefaces for which there are specimen pages?
  4. and tables of contents. How are they arranged? What makes sense for our books? centered? left aligned? leader in the table of contents? or page numbers three spaces after the last word for each item?
  5. Paragraph styles for all elements.
  6. For either left or (probably best) left justified, do an extreme version (illegible ok, using extreme settings for justification, e.g., negative letterspacing). Push it until it breaks.
  7. Final document must contain a multiple of four pages (e.g., 16, 20, 24, 28, 32) in order to print correctly.
  8. We will output via print booklet under file, on tabloid stock to be supplied by instructor (for final version).
timeconclusion Wednesday 21 November : look at dummies;
production Tuesday 26 September,
when we will also be continuing our paragraph studies (lists, etc.).
objectivesIn assembled book form, we can consider appropriateness of our settings, and even adjust as necessary, and relate these to frontmatter (title page, table of contents).

Consideration and evaluation of how design of typographic interior relates to the design and feel of the physical object.


paragraph studies 2, type specimens
specsparagraph (style) settings — alignment, hyphenation, word spacing (and possibly letter) spacing.
  1. page setup
    4.25 inches (26p0) by 7 inches (42p0)
    suggested margins : outside and top : 2p0
    inside : 3p0
    bottom : 5p0
    facing pages (=spreads)
    This size allows us to print on letter-size paper (8.5x11, landscape orientation), as spreads (for inspection) and even booklet mode later.

    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.
    (and, if you have created a new page that doesn't show your layout/margins, drag the master page down to that page)

  2. Create text boxes on facing pages, pour in text. Remove line breaks to create two paragraphs for each type specimen. (and so we'll need to think indents too.
  3. Two facing pages, for examples of
    six different typefaces, one each from the style classifications &mdash
    Garalde Oldstyle (e.g., Garamond Premier Pro)
    Transitional (e.g., ITC New Baskerville)
    Didone (Modern) (e.g., Bodoni Std)
    Grotesque (e.g., Franklin Gothic)
    Neo-Grotesque (e.g., Helvetica, maybe Univers)
    Humanist (e.g., Gill Sans, Myriad Pro, Optima)
  4. One of the six Stein descriptions for each of those typefaces.
  5. One version each page: on left, justified, on right, ragged right. Choose one size, and use same size for all six typefaces.
  6. Create a paragraph style for each version, with a name that makes sense.
    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 (word and letter spacing...). We’re trying to avoid rivers, excessive word spacing, etc.

    later (but think ahead) —

  7. for each example, a page (left side) spelling out the number (e.g., three) — at any size, big probably best! — plus the figure
    followed by name of typeface, all of the upper and lower case letters and figures, and your settings for the facing pages.
  8. 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.
  9. Important
    At the bottom, you should present the settings you’ve used on that page.
timeMonday 19 September
complete on Wednesday 21 September (when we take this exercise a step or two further.
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.


paragraph studies 1
specsparagraph (style) settings — alignment, hyphenation, word spacing, maybe letter spacing.
  1. page setup : same grid as previously
    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.
  2. Three different column widths : column 1; columns 2+3; and columns 4+5+6.

    Some other orientation (horizontal) is acceptable, so long as there are three examples and each is a different column width.

  3. Create three text boxes, pour in text — the Gertrude Stein piece we used for our grid study. Use at least two paragraphs in each of three boxes.
  4. Use Garamond Pro (via FontBook > add font > working volume > Adobe Font Library > Adobe Garamond Pro

    Create a paragraph style for each column width, with a name that makes sense.
    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.

    You may use different sizes of Garamond, one different size for each box (column) width. Make the text work well in each.

  5. Two versions: one justified, one left justified (= rag).
    You will need six paragraph styles in all (three for ragged right, three for justified).

    For either left or (probably best) left justified, do an extreme version (illegible ok, using extreme settings for justification, e.g., negative letterspacing). Push it until it breaks.

  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. Important
    Record your settings at bottom of column: e.g., Garamond Pro, 12/15, justified, hyphens on, wordspacing 90-100-110)
timeTuesday 12 September
complete for Thursday 12 September (when we take this exercise a step or two further.
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 columns of different widths.
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)


grid studies
specstypographic compositions, InDesign, tabloid

text from Gertrude Stein Descriptions of Literature. Text transcription at descriptions, or access pdf here.

aside —
If you dislike using Stein, select text from interview with poet Susan Howe (use only her answers, not the questions) here — for example, this passage —

All of us would search out books with photographs of Herreshoff boats, or ones with pictures of early submarines. I guess it was about that time I began to connect writing and drawing in my mind. This is important because if a boat sails fast it usually looks beautiful. As if the eye has some perfect knowledge that is feeling. Some enduring value, some purpose is reflected in the material you use. The mysterious link between beauty and utility is, for me, similar to the tie between poetry and historical documents; although it would take me years to explain what the connection actually is, I know it's there. Or rather than explain it, I show it in my writing....

  1. two compositions, all Univers one face (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.
timeThursday 7 September (starting with Highsmith, in betweens)
conclusion Tuesday 12 September
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

N.B.: using Adobe Illustrator CC

  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, 2 (rules and measures)
specstypographic compositions, using rules and the I. H. Finlay aphorism, presented in four 10-inch squares; you'll need to trim from 11x17 sheet).
  1. Content is text by I. H. Finlay (on gardening)
    It is the case with gardens as with societies: some things require to be fixed so that others may be placed.
    Ian Hamilton Finlay, ex Some Detached Sentences on Gardening (here)
  2. Full aphorism (21 words), once only, in each composition. Must be legible; however, words may be separated, etc. In two must be horizontal or vertical baseline, aligning with grid. In two others, need not be.
  3. All versions using Universe (any size or weight).
  4. plus rules, horizontal only. Use step-and-repeat function (under "edit") to multiply. Use rules of different thicknesses (e.g., 3p). Specifiy length, and use step-and-repeat to multiply: specify vertical and horizontal offset, and "count." Rules may bleed off the 10x10 square.
  5. set up new document, tabloid (102p x 66p), facing pages off.
    margins top: 12p0 bottom 30p0 left 3p0 top 3p0
  6. Document grid will probably default to 1-inch, with 1/4 inch micro-grid.
  7. Final presentation, trimmed to 10x10 inches.
timeTuesday 5 September : review first project
launch rules and measures (intro to Indesign)

Thursday 7 September : review rules and measures exercise
launch grid/paragraph studies


This is largely a 2D design exercise.
Continued interested in activating the square space, but now incorporating rules for rhythm, textures, overlaps of texture.


This project is continuation of 2-D emphasis, but with new emphasis on systematic use of step-and-repeat function.


form and space, 1 (fixed and placed)
specstypographic compositions, presented in four 10-inch squares (on non-repro blue gridded paper; you'll need to trim from 11x17 sheet).
  1. Content is text by I. H. Finlay (on gardening)
    It is the case with gardens as with societies: some things require to be fixed so that others may be placed.
    Ian Hamilton Finlay, ex Some Detached Sentences on Gardening (here)
  2. All 21 words must be used at least once on the four compositions. No single composition need contain all 21 words. The words (or letters, and even parts of letters) need to align in some way with the grid — either 1-inch, of 1/4-inch. Words or letters may be at any scale, and need not be fully legible.
  3. However, each of the 21 words needs to be legible at least once.
  4. All versions using Universe (any size or weight). Instructor will distribute the text, in univers, at more than one size: this may be further enlarged at photocopier.
  5. The grid paper is 1" grid, with fine 1/4" lines. I would suggest using only 1 inch, or perhaps 1/2 inch — the 1/4 inch is too finely reticulated to be an organizing principle or guide.
  6. Trace, or cut and glue. If glue, do it lightly or only when satisfied that one (or all!) of the compositions are complete.
  7. All type is to be horizontal or vertical baseline (but can be upside down, or facing right or left.
  8. If you are using a light table (or window), you may trace.
    You could also trace onto tracing paper, but will still need to respect the grid.
  9. Final presentation, photocopy onto 11x17 paper, at 95 percent (to lose the blue grid lines).
  10. Those who are comfortable enough with InDesign to use it for this exercise, may do so. The grid must be respected, and invisible in the printouts.
timeThursday 31 August
conclusion Tuesday 5 September (review)
rules and measures (intro to Indesign)

This is largely a 2D design exercise.
As long as enough of the words can be read, we’re more interested in activating the square space, and working with the grid. 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.)

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.


Fontbook and book assembly reminders
FontbookApplications > Fontbook
File : New Collection (give it a name, like Type 1)
File : Add Fonts
Add fonts (from where?) : Working Volume > Adobe Font Library > Font Folio / Western Fonts scroll down to — and select with one click only — the font you want to activate (e.g., Univers)
click Open

Book Assemblybooks must be a multiple of four pages
File > Print Booklet
Print Settings (lower left)...
Page setup > letter or tabloid size (depending on book size), landscape orientation
General > Print Blank Pages
Setup : Page position : Centered
Marks and Bleeds : Crop marks (if you must; suggest changing offset from 0p6 to 1p0 or even 2p0 if able)
Printer settings (important!) > two sided (on), "short-edge binding"

front and back cover can be treated separately (they are not part of the text block)



  • syllabus
    objectives, expectations, criteria for credit — everything other than the exercises, described on this page
  • reminders
    use of Fontbook, print booklet


  1. Form and Space 1 (fixed and placed)
  2. Form and Space 2 (rules and measures)
  3. grid studies (6 cols, 9 rows; text plus graphic material
  4. paragraph studies 1 (several stages, culminating in book/s)
  5. paragraph studies 2 (type specimens)
  6. paragraph studies continued (type specimens, book)
  7. paragraph studies 3 (indicators, index, list)
  8. poems and a book to contain them (poems derived from provided texts)
  9. letterforms 2D > 3D > 2D (3 posters)
  10. résumé (2-3 versions, plus card).
  11. typographic field guide (and collaborative letterpress exercise)
  12. architecture and alphabet (poster(s) or book).
  13. Descriptive and Critical Catalogue (of work done for Typography 1, Fall 2017)


Carolina de Bartolo (with Stephen Coles and Erik Spiekermann). Explorations in Typography (2016)

Cyrus Highsmith. Inside Paragraphs (2012)

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.


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

bookmarks on design related anythings at

montserrat design tumblr

imposition press tumblr

Comments/questions to jmcvey.