Class 2 – The History of Typography

Let’s review some of the things we learned during our second session:

The Five Families of Type

Old Style – Garamond
Transitional – Baskerville
Modern – Bodoni
Egyptian or Slab Serif – Century Expanded
Sans Serif – Helvetica
Download class notes

Typographical Anatomy

This document was handed out in class, but if you need a new copy, you may download from here. You should study this sheet and refer to it often throughout the course.

During class we reviewed some of the parts of letterforms. Here are a few terms introduced during class. Make sure you know these and begin using them in your typography references:

  • points – unit of measurement in typography: 72 points = 1 inch. All type is measured in points.
  • leading – refers to the linespace between the lines of type. The term originated in the days of metal type. During hand-typesetting, thin strips of lead were inserted into the lines of type to increase the distance.
  • sans serif – a typeface that does not have serifs.
  • font – one weight, width or style of a typeface.
  • typeface – the letters, numbers and symbols that make up a design of type. A typeface is part of a type family of coordinated designs. For example, Helvetica Bold is the typeface and is a part of the Helvetica family of type (Helvetica is the type family, Helvetica Bold is the typeface).
  • type family – the full collection of typefaces that were designed together and intended to be used together. For example, Garamond font family consists of roman, italics, semi bold, and bold weights. Combined together, these make up the Garamond type family.

Homework – Due Monday 2/8/16

  • Complete the Letterform Drawings for next Monday. Read the notes on each page and be neat in your presentation.
  • Reading Assignment in textbook: Basics pgs 1-15 & Development pgs 16-50 (If you haven’t been able to get your book yet, Derek posted a link to a PDF of the book which can be found here.
  • Please bring your tracing pads and pens and other materials for class.

Here are some videos to help with this lesson:

Type Anatomy and Terminology

Short Letterpress Documentary

After watching the two videos, share your thoughts on the evolution of typography in the comments below.

Class 1 – Course Introduction and History of Letterforms

The topic of our first class of the semester was letterform. This was a brief history of the definition of letterform and the evolution to our current alphabet. In typography, epigraphy, paleography, calligraphy and even graffiti, letterform refers to the shape and design of individual characters—the way the characters are drawn.

A few words we learned:

  • typography — the arrangement of text, letters, characters to make words visible; the art of arranging type; the design and use of letterforms/letter shapes; designed with metal letterforms or computer.
  • epigraphy — the study of letterforms carved in stone or other permanent material.
  • paleography — the study of writing in ancient and medieval manuscripts.
  • calligraphy — the art of decorative writing, usually with pen and ink, sometimes a brush may be used.
  • serif — the line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter or symbol. They look a bit like feet.

You can download a copy of the slide presentation here.

An additional resource: Origins of the Alphabet

We also viewed this view in class. It quickly sums up the topic: The History of Typography

In the comments below, what were some of your thoughts after this first class?


Welcome to COMD 1167 MW, Spring 2016

Hello everyone and welcome. This is the place you will find loads of resources to help you get through the course. I will post extra information to supplement the lessons, tutorial videos and you will find class handouts that you can download.

When I find interesting information that enhance enhance your learning, I will update this site with them. You should plan to check in here before or after each class session. When I add an update you should receive a notification.

I also want to encourage you to feel free to add content aside from the times when it is a required assignment.

I look forward to a rewarding semester for both of us.



Required Supplies

The following items can be purchased at a local Staples or art store:

  • 8.5˝x11˝ or 9˝x11˝ Tracing Pad
  • 12˝ Ruler if your pad doesn’t have a grid
  • 2 BLACK Pilot Razor Point II Fine Line Markers, 0.2mm Super Fine Point or an equivalent super fine marker/pen
  • No. 2 Pencil
  • Portfolio with plastic sleeves to keep as a Journal of all samples collected during the semester

Required Textbook

A Type Primer (2nd Edition) by John Kane (If you need to save money, you may consider renting the digital textbook.) 

Recommended Text

InDesign CC: Visual QuickStart Guide (Latest Edition) by Sandee Cohen (This book is helpful to have as a reference to using InDesign.)