A foundation course in typography

Class 1-Introduction and History of Letterform

Since it was our first class of the semester, it was important that we review the class syllabus, class policies and required materials.

We also reviewed the use of this website and its importance to you during this class. It is where you will find a recap of the lesson and additional reading or resource material. It is important that you check here frequently during the week. There are also time when you will be required to contribute to the content here. As mentioned, this and all class participation is part of your grade.


Your Next Steps

  • Make sure you have access to your City Tech email account. This is where the college and I will communicate with you about college related information.
  • Purchase your required textbook.
  • Purchase your required supplies.
  • Complete the contact information questionnaire.
  • Read very first post entitled “Welcome” and type your answer to the question in the comments section.


Class Recap: History of Letterform

  • There are many different typefaces or fonts available for use. As the designer your will be responsible for selecting the typeface or font, the point size, the linespace (also known as leading). Typography is practiced by typesetters, graphic designers, art directors and even graffiti artists.
  • How is letterform studied? Through epigraphy, paleography, and calligraphy.
  • Letterform means a letter’s shape. It is also an synonym of the word glyph. Glyph = a specific way a letter or character is drawn. Let’s take a look at the evolution of letterform to understand who we got to our modern day 26 letter alphabet.
  • Pictographs were used as the earliest known form of writing, examples having been discovered in Egypt and Mesopotamia from before 3000 BC.
  • Ideographs are symbols that represent an ideal rather than just a word. Eventually, there were so many combinations of symbols that it became a problem to memorize them all. The term “ideogram” is used to describe logographic writing systems such as Egyptian hieroglyphs and Chinese characters.
  • The evolution of our 26 letter alphabet—Phoenician alphabet, Greek alphabet, Roman alphabet.
  • One of the reasons the capital letters didn’t have curves is because the writings were carved into stone or other hard surfaces.
  • Originally, alphabets were only written as capital (majuscule) letters. Writing quickly with the pen is caused the letters to take on a curved shape and that is how small (minuscule) letters developed.
  • The early writings of the Greeks and Romans had no punctuation—the words either ran together or were sometimes separated by a dot or dash.
  • Punctuation was formalized with the rise of printing in the14th and 15th centuries.

Download a copy of the slide presentation — History of Letterform


Homework: Due Wed, 8/31

  • Purchase required materials. (Books should be in the campus bookstore)
  • Reading from text: Development pgs 16-50; become familiar with content on the class website and read the Welcome article on our website and answer the question in the comments section.
  • Complete the contact information questionnaire if you haven’t done so already.
  • Take a cellphone photo of your nametag that was created in class. Post it on the class website and write 1-2 paragraphs about who you are. Give a credit to the person who created your nametag.

1 Comment

  1. Niki Li(Fengyi Li)

    It looks like very cool in this class.

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