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

Monday 3 May we proof and print our broadside, in the letterpress studio.

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.

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

This project has, in previous semesters, taken different forms (with additional wrinkles). This round, it is to be a book, but poster is acceptable if you can argue well for that. If poster, maximum height 24 inches, and images can be collaged, etc.

All images are to be accompanied by text providing information about location, typeface or other characterization, etc.

If book, should contain the usual frontmatter elements, e.g., title, table of contents...

specsdimensions pending.
timeconclusion Monday 8 December

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. different registers of type (type as image, type as caption, etc.)
  5. 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.
  3. business card (2 x 3.5 inches) / optional

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 Monday 10 April
conclusion Wednesday 19 April (or Monday 24 April)
objectivesPreparation of content for different formats (here, multi-column grid, and narrative or other format, e.g., typewritten, even handwritten or illustrated);
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.



three aphorisms, three posters
specsinstructor provides collections of aphorisms

three posters must work together visually, and
reference examples of contemporary typography
minimal and/or abstract non-typographic visuals acceptable
additional typographic text also acceptable

size: one dimension must be 18 inches; the other up to you.
(If worthy, larger work can be printed on the Epson.)

timeassign Monday 27 March
conclusion Wednesday 5 April

  1. larger scale, worked with discipline;
  2. respects grid structure, or other opportunistic situations


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 lingodroids or geological text (or possibly from igNobel Prize-winning papers, TBD).
timeconclusion Weds 29 March

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
suggested, but negotiable (but may not be tiny)
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 : 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).

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/other
specsIndex any source text (20 entries, more is better). Six columns, using our first grid on tabloid paper.

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.
timeassigned pending
conclusion pending
objectivesfurther experience with paragraph styles; examine models; think of ways to present lists, tags, and the like.

This exercise is preparatory to a poetry book we will be creating (making/typesetting poems, designing front and back matter, etc, and 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 to be determined by you).

For [           ], 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


paragraph studies 2, with six typefaces (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 and tables of contents.
  4. Paragraph styles for all elements.
  5. 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. Document must contain a multiple of four pages (e.g., 16, 20, 24, 28, 32) in order to print correctly.
  7. We will output via print booklet under file, on tabloid stock to be supplied by instructor (for final version).
timeconclusion Monday 13 November
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, with six typefaces
specsparagraph (style) settings — alignment, hyphenation, word spacing, maybe letter spacing.
  1. page setup
    6 inches (36p0) by 9 inches (54p0)
    suggested margins : outside and top : 6p0
    inside : 4p6
    bottom : 8p0
    This size allows us to print on 11x17 tabloid (landscape orientation), as spreads (for inspection) and even booklet mode later.
  2. Same page setup, add pages.
  3. Same exercise for six different typefaces, one each from the style classifications —
    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. Justified and rag right.
  5. One size for six showings (choose from 18 to 12 point).
  6. 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 two specimen pages.

    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. 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, uneven rags, etc.


paragraph studies 1
specsparagraph (style) settings — alignment, hyphenation, word spacing, maybe letter spacing.
  1. page setup
    6 inches (36p0) by 9 inches (54p0)
    suggested margins : outside and top : 6p0
    inside : 4p6
    bottom : 8p0
    This size allows us to print on 11x17 tabloid (landscape orientation), as spreads (for inspection) and even booklet mode later.
  2. remember —
    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, on pages 2 and 3, which will be facing.
  4. Typeset in 18 point type, Baskerville. One version each page: on left, justified, on right, ragged right. 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. We’re trying to avoid rivers, excessive word spacing, etc.

    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.

  5. 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.
  6. Important
    At the bottom, you should present the settings you’ve used on that page.
  7. Text is the Gertrude Stein piece, or the Susan Howe interview, we used for our grid study.
timeMonday 30 January
complete on Wednesday 1 February (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.

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

  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.
timeMonday 12 September (starting with Highsmith, in betweens)
conclusion Monday 19 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

  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 (of 2)
specstypographic compositions, InDesign, presented in two 10-inch squares.
  1. Content is words (in English and/or Spanish) of a short poem by Alejandra Pizarnik, and/or the Robert Smithson text.
  2. Two versions Futura Std Book (or Univers if unavailable) Book.
  3. As before, all type horizontal or vertical baseline.
  4. no grid.

    I will demonstrate setting up page (and probably grid, although we will not use it) in class.

timeMonday 23 January
conclusion Wednesday 25 January
objectivessame as previous (tracing) versions

Print on 11x17 paper.

For Monday, read pages 13-25 of Cyrus Highsmith, Inside Paragraphs: typographic fundamentals (2012)


form and space 1 (of 2)
specstypographic compositions, presented in four 10-inch squares (all traced).
  1. Content is text of a short poem by Alejandra Pizarnik or a sentence by Robert Smithson. Yes, you may mix.
  2. At least one square must use all 18 words (of the Pizarnik) or or two sentences of the Smithson, at least once. The words need not be fully legible.
  3. All versions using Futura Medium.
  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 two of the squares.
  6. You may trace only sections of single letters or words.)
  7. We’ll return to (something like) the same project next week, using InDesign.
timeWeds 18 January
conclusion Wednesday 25 January (traced and digital)
digital on Monday (introduction to Indesign), launch grid exercise Wednesday

Use tracing paper taped to black frame, so you know your edges and so that you can better orient type vertically and horizontally.

This 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 10 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 Fall 2016.

  1. Form and Space 1 (tracings)
  2. Form and Space 2 (same, InDesign; pending)
  3. grid studies (6 cols, 9 rows; text plus graphic material
  4. paragraph studies (justification, hyphenation, wordspace, etc. settings; InDesign)
  5. paragraph studies / six typefaces / book
  6. paragraph studies / six typefaces plus imagery / book
  7. index, ordered list
  8. poems and a book to contain them (poems derived from provided texts)
  9. aphoristic posters (three)
  10. résumé (2-3 versions).
  11. typographic field guide


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

montserrat design tumblr

imposition press tumblr

Comments/questions to jmcvey.