VISC 202

Elements of Typography

Typography is all around us, on signage, in books, on packaging, on products, TV, movies, advertising... indeed, there are endless variations of typographic manifestations. To evaluate these we use one criterion: the purpose determines the design.

Typography can be divided into two areas: 1) The concept / idea, the arrangement, the design as a whole. 2) The space between the letters, between the words and lines – the details of typesetting.

The class provides and introduction to the discipline, function and tradition of typography as it relates to visual and verbal communication. Topics to be presented include the historic evolution of typography, the anatomy of typography, syntax and communication, legibility/readability, and technology. Emphasis will be on the interrelationships of letter, word, line and page. Projects will examine type families and their structure, two-dimensional typographic space, language sequence and information hierarchy and typographic aesthetic.

Typography is one of the principle tools of the visual communicator. The goal of this class is to understand the fundamental elements of typography, begin to familiarize you with typography in its many aspects, and prepare you for future course work.

— Provide an overview of the expressive and aesthetic dimensions of typography
— Develop a critical perspective on the technological and aesthetic qualities of typography
— Explore the use of typography
— Solve design problems while working within specific limitations
— Demonstrate independent problem solving
— Enhance technical proficiency


Google Drive Downloads
Shaping Text, Jan Middendorp (purchase new or used off Amazon or any online source)
The Anatomy of Type by Stephen Coles (purchase new or used off Amazon or sign up for 30day KindleUnlimited)
Mac is not Typewiter (download pdf)
Meet your Type, by Font Shop (download pdf)
Bookmark: LetterFountain: online version with parts of the book

Sign up for the New York Times (Sign up NOW if you have not already)


Letter Fountain by Joep Pohlen
Graphic Design, Referenced: A Visual Guide... by Armin Vit and Bryony Gomez Palacio
The Anatomy of Type by Stephen Coles
Getting it Right with Type by Victoria Squire
Graphic Design: The New Basics by Ellen Lupton


Adobe Illustrator
Adobe InDesign
Adobe Photoshop
Adobe AfterEffects
Glyphs app (on school machines - MAC only - do not download trial)

If you are behind in learning the software please let us know -- and just ask. There are tons of online resources for you. Maybe google your question. Watch Skillshare Videos. Watch videos.


All projects (from last semester and this semester should be retained for Portfolio Review. To pass the review you must have a grade of C+ or higher AND pass the VisCom faculty review of all your course work {the entire year of work. All work must be hung and on tables in the 203 rooms. And you must be available for individual meetings with the faculty. More information will be given closer to the Review Date.


Throughout the semester you are required to work a minimum of 3 hours of homework per 1 credit hour. A 3 credit hour studio will have a minimum of 9 hours of homework per week.

Many of you will find that you will need to spend even more time per week. Studio course projects require a great deal of time in order to develop and complete. Please be aware that not all project work can be done at home or at your convenience. If you are expecting to work a full-time or near full-time job (over 20 hrs. per week) it will most likely have a negative impact on your performance and grade. It is very difficult to try and balance both a full-time job and a full load of studio classes.


Each class is a significant financial investment by each student, is based on sequential information and projects, and requires the full participation of each student. Each session of class missed or coasted through is a wasteful and impedes the student’s ability to succeed in that class. For those reasons, students are required to attend classes in which they are enrolled and/or intend to enroll, must be on time for each session of class, and must remain in attendance for each entire session of class. Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each session of class.

In the event of any absence, students are responsible for obtaining all missed information, materials, and assignments from the class period(s) during which they were absent. Students who are absent must complete all assignments by the due date originally assigned for the work.

Three absences will be allowed in a class for any reason within the first six weeks of a given semester.

A fourth absence within the first six weeks of a given semester will result in administrative withdrawal of the truant student. To request that a student be retroactively withdrawn from their class, an instructor must submit an Absence Warning Form with the appropriate note.

Beginning with the 7th week of a given semester, each absence beyond two for a given class that meets once a semester will result in a penalty of one letter grade in that class.

Three "late" marks will be equivalent to one absence with respect to the attendance policy of the department.
Instructors may implement amended versions of this policy at their discretion. Regardless, the attendance policy used for a class must be documented in the syllabus for that class.

In order to ensure that students are duly reminded of the possible consequences of continued truancy, instructors must submit an Absence Warning Form after two absences for a class that meets twice per week or after one absence for a class that meets once per week.


If any scheduled course meeting conflicts with mandated religious observance, the student must notify the instructor prior the day of the observance that the student will be absent.


Because of the fast-paced, project-based nature of studio curricula, absences as the result of a medical condition will count in the same way as non-medical absences. Excessive absence for any reason, as outlined in this policy, are irreparably detrimental to a student’s ability to succeed in our studio curriculum.


If you have special needs as addressed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), please notify me immediately so that appropriate accommodations can be provided.


The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, retaliation, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities. Please contact the University’s Title IX Coordinator at the office of Institutional Opportunity & Access<> with any inquiries. To report discrimination or if you need guidance on discrimination concerns, please call the office at 785.864.6414. There, you will find an easy Complaint of Discrimination form for reporting discrimination. If you need guidance on discrimination concerns or wish to report discrimination please call or email the office. The Department Chair is also always available to speak with you and assist you through this process. [Call 911 for emergencies or the Public Safety Office for non-emergencies at 785.864.5900. KU Crime Stoppers is also available at 785.864.8888.


For each project Process, Product and Craft will together make up the final grade each project.

50 % Process: includes demonstrated process of idea development, research, type/image studies, concept development, quantity and quality of sketches. More than just one idea explored, prepared for class and critique participation. I will keep track of your process. And you will hand in a process book at the end of each project.

40 % Product: comprehension of problem, originality of solution, appropriateness of solution, typography, visual invention, visual aesthetic, application/translation of concept, followed the assignment sheet or directives given in class.

10 % Craftsmanship: presentation of final, neatness, precision, technical proficiency, appropriate materials, poor craft can reduce a project grade by 1 full grade. You are learning to be professional and craft is a large part of being professional.

A superior / excellent/ exceeds expectations
B very good
C satisfactory / meets expectations
D unsatisfactory / did not meet expectations
F unacceptable

Completing the minimum requirements outlined on an assignment sheet qualifies as “C” level (or average) work. Work that exceeds minimum expectations will earn higher points in the “B” range, work that is exceptional earns an “A”. Conversely, work that does not meet the requirements for the project will earn a lower grade than “C”. The degree and quality of effort with which a student engages in the different criteria (above or below the minimum requirements) for each assignment determines how well they do.

Grade Percentage
Project 1: 30%
Excercise: 5%
Project 3: 30%
Project 4: 30%
Professionalism: 5%


All projects and assignments are due on the date set by the instructor. Late projects will be penalized by lowering the project grade by one full letter grade for each day that it is late. Late projects will not be accepted beyond three days after the original due date. Projects are due at the start of class. Instructors may elect not to accept late work, but must note their policy regarding late work in the syllabus for each class.


Design is a collaborative profession. Clear verbal skills are all important in communicating your ideas to clients and Design team members, and professional conduct can have a significant impact on the ability of a Designer to succeed. Because of the importance of professionalism in communication and conduct, students should maintain themselves according to the following guidelines:

— Attend each session of class in its entirety.
— Come prepared to present their concepts, discuss how the form of their design supports their concept, and describe how they arrived at their ideas.
— Participate in critiques and discussions with a spirit of mutual respect. Providing comments to one's peers is a privilege. Students will benefit from both giving and receiving feedback - one does not have to “like” another’s work, but must provide insightful commentary in a courteous and productive manner.
— Maintain a positive and open-minded attitude.
— Demonstrate self-discipline and eagerness to participate.
— Consistently strive for the highest standards of quality in work and conduct.

Failure to abide by the guidelines and policy notes stated in this policy can lower a student's grade by one full letter grade or more, and can result in administrative withdrawal from one or more classes.

Students are required to turn their cell phones off or on silent and refrain from browsing the web, using social media, checking email, text messaging, etc. during class, lectures, and demonstrations. Students may use these devices only during designated break times.


All work you hand in for this class must be made by you, over the course of this semester, exclusively for this class. All necessary and appropriate sanctions will be issued to all parties involved with plagiarizing any course work. Plagiarism and any other form of academic misconduct that is in violation with the University Senate Rules and Regulations will not be tolerated, and may result in failing the course, suspension from the department, or expulsion from the university.

The School of Architecture and Design Policy on Misconduct
Academic misconduct by a student shall include, but not be limited to, disruption of classes; threatening an instructor or fellow student in an academic setting; giving or receiving of unauthorized aid on examinations or in the preparation of notebooks, themes, reports, or other assignments; knowingly misrepresenting the source of any academic work; unauthorized changing of grades; unauthorized use of university approvals or forging of signatures; falsification of research results; plagiarizing of another’s work; violation of regulations or ethical codes for the treatment of human and animal subjects; or otherwise acting dishonestly in research. The full policy of the School of Architecture & Design and the procedures of the Department of Design for processing allegations of academic misconduct are outlined at


If this course is required under the majors studies section on your degree check sheet you must receive a grade of C (2.0) or better to continue on to the next course in the sequence. A grade of C- (1.7) or lower will require you to repeat this course. In most cases these courses are only offered once a year. Students in the Department of Design must maintain a cumulative 2.0 GPA to graduate with a degree in Design.


Individuals who choose to carry concealed handguns are solely responsible to do so in a safe and secure manner in strict conformity with state and federal laws and KU weapons policy. Safety measures outlined in the KU weapons policy specify that a concealed handgun:
— Must be under the constant control of the carrier.

— Must be out of view, concealed either on the body of the carrier, or backpack, purse, or bag that remains under the constant control of the carrier.

— Must be in a holster that covers the trigger area and secures any external hammer in an un-cocked position

— Must have the safety on, and have no round in the chamber.

Studio classes
These courses take place in spaces that will require students to leave belongings such as backpacks and purses away and unattended for the duration of class time. Students who choose to carry a concealed handgun in a purse, backpack, or bag must review and plan each day accordingly, and are responsible for making alternate arrangements as necessary. The university KU School of Architecture & Design’s lockers are not does not provide appropriate secured storage for concealed handguns.

Individuals who violate the KU weapons policy may be asked to leave campus with the weapon and may face disciplinary action under the appropriate university code of conduct.

*For more information on the law, safety, resources and FAQs the Provost’s Office and KU General Counsel have prepared


Students will be expected to present their work in a professional manner. Quality tools and materials should be considered as an investment in one’s future.

— dropbox or google drive space
— notebook/sketchbook for class notes and assignments (bring to every class)
— earphones: that plug into the computer
— tracing paper / Graph Paper (pad or roll min.12 inches wide)
— self-healing mat to cut on in class (not too big not too small)
— push pins (always bring to class)
— fine and thick nibbed markers for sketching
— transparent tape/ glue stick
— white paper tape or masking tape
— steel ruler with cork back (18 inches) AND a heavy ruler at least 24 inches
— x-acto knife with #11 blades
— scissors


You will also be posting your final projects, sketches, project overview to a Behance page. Behance is a social networking portfolio site., sign up in the upper left / ask for your invitation to join. It is free, there is a pro site but you do not need that at this time.



All projects should be retained for Portfolio Review in May 2020. KEEP ALL YOUR PROJECTS AND PROCESS BOOKS SAFE. More information about Review will be given throughout the semester. To pass the Fall semester part of the review you must have a final grade of C or higher.