About this Course
4.8
1,956 ratings
423 reviews
Typography is the art of manipulating the visual form of language to enrich and control its meaning. It’s an essential area of skill and knowledge for graphic designers. Typography predates modern graphic design by around 500 years; it is rich in rules, conventions, and esoteric terminology—but it remains an exciting space for invention and expression. In this rigorous introductory course, we will study, name, and measure the characteristics of letterforms. We’ll consider the pragmatic concerns involved in selecting and combining type. We’ll peek into the 
rich historical, cultural, and aesthetic histories of familiar typefaces. We’ll discuss time-tested conventions and best practices in setting type, as governed by principles of hierarchy and spatial organization. And we’ll explore the expressive, meaning-making potential of type. Informative lectures will be complemented by a series of three peer-assessed assignments, culminating 
in an opportunity to design a full-scale typographic poster. Please note that this is not a software course; a basic working knowledge of Adobe InDesign or other 
page layout software will be assumed. You will need access to a computer and page layout software, such as InDesign, to complete the assignments....
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Calendar

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.
Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Clock

Suggested: 4 weeks of study, 1-3 hours/week

Approx. 8 hours to complete
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English

What you will learn

  • Check
    Conduct a peer-reviewed typesetting exercise
  • Check
    Design of a full-scale typographic poster
  • Check
    Explore how typefaces tell stories and understand the historic evolution
  • Check
    Review the terminology and measuring system used to describe type

Skills you will gain

HistoryGraphicsCreativityAdobe Indesign
Stacks

Course 2 of 5 in the

Globe

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Calendar

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.
Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Clock

Suggested: 4 weeks of study, 1-3 hours/week

Approx. 8 hours to complete
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Week 1: Talking Type

This week, we’ll take an up-close look at typefaces, both as physical artifacts and as works of design. 
We will study the formal elements that define and give character to type, and understand where they came from and why they look the way they do. We will review the terminology and measuring system used to describe type, and look at the way the form and proportion of letters relate to the practical concerns of selecting and combining typefaces. The week will wrap up with a graded quiz....
Reading
6 videos (Total 21 min), 5 readings, 2 quizzes
Video6 videos
Font versus Typeface4m
Stroke and Proportion4m
Type Anatomy2m
Measuring Type3m
Choosing a Typeface4m
Reading5 readings
About this Course5m
About the Assignments5m
Course Tools5m
Additional Resources10m
Reviewing key terms5m
Quiz2 practice exercises
Type Terms12m
Describing Type20m

2

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Week 2: Typefaces and their Stories

This week, we’ll explore the way typefaces express connotative meaning—tell stories—through their association with different time periods, aesthetics, and ideas. Through six short case studies, we 
will look at the way a typeface’s connotations are shaped by its context, understand the historic evolution of typographic forms, and familiarize ourselves with the way typefaces are classified. You’ll extend 
your exploration through some independent research into a typeface of your choosing....
Reading
7 videos (Total 26 min), 1 quiz
Video7 videos
Bembo: Humanist Letters3m
Didot: Enlightened Refinement3m
Clarendon: Type for the Masses3m
Futura: the Typographic Avant-Garde4m
Helvetica: International Modern3m
Scala Sans: Typographic Remix3m

3

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Week 3: Putting Type to Work

This week, we will engage the visual principles and conventions of typesetting. We will look at how the spaces between letters, lines, and blocks of type can be manipulated to refine the appearance and control the meaning of type. We’ll explore the ways typographic hierarchy and grid systems can further organize and clarify type. And we’ll survey the rules and conventions that can add polish to your typesetting. You’ll apply your skills and knowledge in a peer-reviewed typesetting exercise at the end 
of the week....
Reading
6 videos (Total 26 min), 1 quiz
Video6 videos
Typographic Space5m
Page Space5m
The Grid4m
Creating Hierarchy3m
Typographic Conventions5m

4

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Week 4: Making Meaningful Type

In our final week, we’ll examine the ways typographic form can dramatically shape the meaning of written language. We’ll survey and analyze possibilities for type treatments—from subtle typesetting choices
 to dramatic manipulations—by looking at examples of expressive and unconventional typography. At the end of the week, you’ll bring together and apply everything you have learned in this course in the 
design of a full-scale typographic poster....
Reading
4 videos (Total 17 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video4 videos
Typesetting with Expression5m
Beyond Typesetting4m
The Typographic Poster4m
Reading1 reading
Course Credits2m
4.8
Direction Signs

29%

started a new career after completing these courses
Briefcase

83%

got a tangible career benefit from this course

Top Reviews

By JCJul 29th 2018

Loved that the main typeface study was carried out throughout this course. Loved beginning with the writing assignment and then evolving into a full on typographic poster. Very fun and informative

By HYAug 24th 2016

This course was even better than the previous course of the specialization. It explains historical, technical part of the typography and assignments were very well related. Well designed course.

Instructor

Anther Kiley

Faculty, Program in Graphic Design
School of Art

About California Institute of the Arts

CalArts has earned an international reputation as the leading college of the visual and performing arts in the United States. Offering rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree programs through six schools—Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater—CalArts has championed creative excellence, critical reflection, and the development of new forms and expressions. ...

About the Graphic Design Specialization

Graphic design is all around us, in a myriad of forms, both on screen and in print, yet it is always made up of images and words to create a communication goal. This four-course sequence exposes students to the fundamental skills required to make sophisticated graphic design: process, historical context, and communication through image-making and typography. The sequence is completed by a capstone project that applies the skills of each course and peer feedback in a finished branding project suitable for a professional portfolio. The goal of this specialization is to equip learners with a set of transferable formal and conceptual tools for “making and communicating” in the field of graphic design. This core skill set will equip learners for formal studies in graphic design, and a starting point for further work in interface design, motion graphics, and editorial design....
Graphic Design

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Once you enroll for a Certificate, you’ll have access to all videos, quizzes, and programming assignments (if applicable). Peer review assignments can only be submitted and reviewed once your session has begun. If you choose to explore the course without purchasing, you may not be able to access certain assignments.

  • When you enroll in the course, you get access to all of the courses in the Specialization, and you earn a certificate when you complete the work. Your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you only want to read and view the course content, you can audit the course for free.

More questions? Visit the Learner Help Center.