This course concerns itself with typography as described in two ways: a purposeful craft that branched off from printing and a formal element within an artistic composition.

With a more than 550-year history, typesetting — as found in books, posters, ephemera and on screen — forms the foundation of the course. Typesetting is the selection and placement of letterforms to transfer meaning. However prominent or intentional, the typography is part of the meaning. The job of the typographer is to create a nuanced, personalized and appro

This course carries an important structural twist. Each student will work with a single contemporary typeface generously donated by Village Type Foundry. Students will understand the broader typographic issues through prolonged exposure and practice using one type family. Each typeface provides its own historical and suggestive meanings, while being designed for present-day application. The typeface will be the focus of many of your assignments during the semester.

Objectives and Expectations

  • to learn typographic history and context
  • to develop typographic voice
  • to refine craft in general

Required Texts

Course Schedule

  • Unit One: Microtypography
    Terminology, History, Letterpress, Spacing
  • Unit Two: Macrotypography
    Hierarchy, Grids, Alignment, Book-work
  • Unit Three: Projects
    Book cover/poster, Interview book,
    Type specimen book/process book,
    online documentation,

Lecture Series, Mondays at 1pm in Auditorium

  • Week 1: Introductions
  • Week 2: Cyrus Highsmith, ‘Letter Anatomy’
  • Week 3: John Kane, ‘Incunabula to Garamond’
  • Week 4: Cyrus, ’Word spacing’
  • Week 5: Ernesto Aparicio, ‘18th Century’
  • Week 6: Cyrus, ‘Line and word spacing’
  • Week 7: John K., ‘19th Century’
  • Week 8: Cyrus, ‘Paragraph spacing’
  • Week 9: Jacek, ‘20th Century’
  • Week 10: Cyrus, ‘Hyphenation and justification’
  • Week 11: John C., ‘Web type’
  • Week 12: None


Grades from A to F will be assigned at both the middle and end of the semesters. Only the end of semester grade is on record. The following criteria are used for assessment:

  • Attendance (3rd absence fails the course)
  • Participation
  • Motivation/Attitude
  • Craftsmanship
  • Depth of investigation
  • Risk taking
  • End products: success in meeting objective, both formally and conceptually
  • Individual growth
  • Distributing Village Type fails the course
Graduate Typography 1 (332G-01), Fall 2011
Rhode Island School of Design
– – –
Mason Building (CIT), GD Graduate Studios
Mondays, 9:00am – 2:00pm
– – –
Instructor: John Caserta,
Office Hours: Thursdays 10am – 12pm
The Design Office, 204 Westminster St. 4th flr

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