VISC 202:  Elements of Typography

MW 3:20 – 5:50 (in-person)
Chalmers 312
3 credits
Show up and care.

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Elements of Typography introduces the discipline, function, and tradition of typography as it relates to visual/verbal communication. Emphasis is on the interrelationships of letter, word, line and page. Projects examine two-dimensional typographic space, sequence, and information hierarchy.

Andrea Herstowski
office hours by appointment 
I typically respond to emails in 24 hours or sooner. If you do not hear from me please resend the email. It may have gotten lost in all my emails. Please follow up!

Sam Yates Meier
office hours by appointment

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KBoR Statement on Free Expression

Typography permeates our surroundings, adorning signage, books, magazines, apps, websites, packaging, products, television, movies, advertising, and experiences. Its manifestations are boundless, exhibiting a myriad of variations. When evaluating typography, we rely on a single criterion: the purpose determines the design.

The more uninteresting a letter
the more useful it is to the typographer.

– Piet Zwart 

The realm of typography can be divided into two domains. First is the typographic composition's conceptualization, arrangement, and overall design. Second, we delve into the intricate details of typesetting, including the spacing between letters, words, and lines.

In this class, we will embark on an exploration of typography’s discipline, function, and tradition within the context of visual and verbal communication. Our journey will encompass various topics such as the historical evolution of typography, the anatomy of letterforms, syntax and communication, legibility and readability, and the influence of technology. The focus will be on understanding the interplay between letters, words, lines, and pages. Through projects, we will investigate type families and their structure, two-dimensional typographic space, language sequencing, and information hierarchy, as well as typographic aesthetics.

Typography stands as a vital instrument in the arsenal of visual communicators. The objective of this class is to grasp the fundamental elements of typography, acquaint you with its multifaceted nature, and prepare you for future coursework.

Learning Outcomes:
— 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

In order to maximize your learning and growth as a designer in this class, active engagement with the coursework is essential. Adopt a serious attitude and be willing to go beyond the assigned tasks. Challenge yourself and embrace the philosophy of learning through hands-on experience. Design is a competitive yet rewarding profession, and this course is designed with that mindset. Expectations include diligent effort every day, not just for grades, but for personal development and skill enhancement.

To truly benefit from this course, it is important to approach it with curiosity, self-initiative, and a dedicated investment of time. The work we will be doing can be time-consuming, slow, occasionally frustrating, and involve repetitive tasks. Embrace the opportunity to immerse yourself, actively participate, share ideas, and explore new possibilities. If this approach doesn’t resonate with you, it may be worth discussing alternative course options with your advisor.

Effective verbal communication skills are paramount in conveying your ideas to clients and fellow design team members. During critiques, students are expected to come prepared to present their concepts, explain how their design form supports the underlying concept, and describe the process behind their ideas. Offering feedback to your peers is a privilege. Engaging in both giving and receiving feedback is beneficial. While you don’t have to personally “like” someone else’s work, it is crucial to provide insightful commentary in a respectful and constructive manner.

During class, lectures, and demonstrations, it is required that you are working on things realated to this class (not other classes), that you turn your phone to silent mode and refrain from distractions such as texting, social media, checking email....

A lack of professionalism can effectively lower your grade by one full letter grade.
__ attend class on time and stay throughout the whole class period
__ prepared for every class
__ participate in classroom discussions/crits
__ use classtime to work on projects for this class
__ maintain a positive and open-minded attitude
__ demonstrate deliberate self-disciplined and timely work habits
__ progressively strive for and achieve the highest standards of quality

— GoogleDocs — Sketch book or pads of paper — Grid Paper — Tracing paper — White out pen — Tape — X-acto blades  — Self-healing mat — Ruler — Markers: thin and thick: have a range — Pencils — Eraser — Scissors etc...

Adobe Creative Cloud: We will be using/ you will be mastering...
Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop

Please note: Beginning on Monday, August 21st, the first day of the 2023 Fall Semester, students in all School of Architecture & Design degree programs will receive a personal license to Adobe Creative Cloud at no cost. ArcD majors do not need to purchase or renew Adobe Creative Suite at the KU Bookstore. Please follow this link for more information.

We will be using Slack for Announcements, Resources, Questions... please join and turn on notifications :)

You will also be posting your final projects, sketches, project overview to a Behance page. Free with Adobe Creative Suite. Start following professionals, peers, classmates. Follow: my class behance page

Skillshare (ask for log-in information)
51 Typography Tutorials

Mac is not Typewriter (download pdf)
Thinking with Type (pdf)
Bookmark: LetterFountain: online version with parts of the book
Bookmark: Glossary of Terms

RECOMMENDED BOOKS (not required) 
Shaping Text, Jan Middendorp 
The Anatomy of Type by Stephen Coles 
Designing Type by Karen Cheng
Getting it Right with Type by Victoria Squire
Graphic Design: The New Basics by Ellen Lupton

To maintain integrity and respect copyright laws, it is crucial that you either create your own imagery or use images from the Public Domain whenever possible. If you are unable to create your own visuals, it is important to give proper attribution and credit when utilizing images from external sources. Remember to include attribution for any images sourced from the internet in Behance posts or other platforms. Finding an image online does not grant you automatic permission to use it—it is not a matter of “finders keepers.”

Flickr Commons:
Bio Diversity Library:
Public Domain Review:
Library of Congress: on flikr
The New York Public Library:
The British Library:
National Archives:

Letterform Archive
The Peoples Archive

It is mandatory that all work submitted for this class is original and created by you specifically for this semester and this class. Any instances where work is discovered to closely resemble material found online will be regarded as plagiarism. In such cases, appropriate sanctions will be implemented for all individuals involved in plagiarizing coursework. Plagiarism is a violation of the University Senate Rules and Regulations and will not be tolerated. Consequences may include failing the project, disqualification from the VisCom Sophomore Review, course failure, departmental suspension, or expulsion from the university.

Important note about Artificial Intelligence: If AI is used to help create text or images in this project (or any project in any of your classes), it is imperative to be transparent and honest about its involvement. AI can be embraced and explored as a tool used to enhance the creative process. Maintaining mastery over the AI and making necessary alterations to all final deliverables is crucial. Failure to inform us that you are using AI at any point in the project will be considered plagiarism, and strict consequences will follow.

As we navigate this learning process, we must remember to exercise responsible AI usage and ensure that AI serves as a valuable assistant rather than a substitute for creativity and originality. Together, we can leverage AI to augment our process. Honesty and integrity could lead to a more insightful and ethical exploration of AI's potential in the creative domain.

CALENDAR (please note, do not make travel plans when we have class)
Monday, Aug 21: First Day of Classes
Monday, Sept 4: Labor Day (no class)
Wednesday, Sept 20: Project Due
Monday, Oct 15 and Tuesday, October 16: Fall Break (no class)
Wednesday, Oct 18: Project Due (*right after Fall Break, be aware)
Monday, Nov 13: Project Due
November 23, 24, 25 Thanksgiving: (no class, we do have class on Mon/Tues!)
December 8: Stop Day
Final Project Due: Wednesday Dec 16 at 3:00pm

Please Note: You will have multiple opportunities to provide feedback on your experience in this course. Suggestions and constructive criticism are encouraged throughout the course and may be particularly valuable early in the semester. Each project deliverable includes a reflection statement to gather input on what is working well and what could be improved. You will also be asked to complete an end-of-semester, online Student Survey of Teaching, which could inform modifications to this course (and other courses that I teach) in the future.

This course is a mandatory requirement listed under the major studies section on your degree check sheet and is part of the sophomore review. To progress to the next course in the sequence, it is necessary to achieve a grade of C (2.0) or higher. The final grade for each project will be determined by the collective assessment of several key components: Participation, Process, Exploration, Refinement, Final Product, and Craft.

25% Project: Modular Typeface with Andrea: Due Sept 20
25% Project: Modular Grid with Sam: Due Oct 18
25% Project: Typographic Workbook with Andrea: Due Nov 13
25% Project: Font Study with Sam: Due Finals Week: Wednesday Dec 16 at 3:00pm

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

To achieve an “A” grade, it is crucial that your process, product, and participation surpass expectations. Merely completing the project requirements will not be sufficient to earn an “A.” It is not merely a matter of fulfilling basic criteria. Every one of you has the potential to earn an “A.” Strive for excellence consistently. Meeting the minimum expectations by being prepared and fulfilling assigned tasks corresponds to a "satisfactory" effort, which equates to a “C” grade. Remember, a "B" grade reflects Very Good!

All projects and assignments are due on the date giving and due at the beginning of class. Late projects will be penalized by lowering the project grade by one full letter grade. After three days, late projects will no longer be accepted. 

Critique is one of the most valuable parts of formal design education. It is also one of the most difficult aspects of the design school experience. It is a collaborative activity that takes quite a bit of time to learn — both in terms of how to give feedback, and how to accept feedback.

-- How can you help your classmate be the best designer they can be?
-- Please be collegial classmates and motivate each other to excellence every day.
-- Critique is not a competition; it is an opportunity for everyone to learn and grow.
-- Critique is a collaborative activity that requires time to learn how to give and accept feedback. Both givers and receivers of critique play a role in creating a positive and constructive environment.
-- Pay attention to critiques of other students’ work as there is much to learn beyond your own projects.
-- Understand the goals of the critique, whether it’s exploring concepts, refining details, or celebrating project completion.
-- Critiques should be honest but not cruel or disrespectful. 
-- The purpose of critique is to improve the work.
-- A critique should leave you empowered to improve your work.

Throughout the semester you are required to work a minimum of 9 hours of homework per week for this course. 

This is your review year. This course is required under the majors studies section on your degree check sheet you must receive a minimum grade of a “C” (2.0) or higher in both VISC 202 and 204 to continue onto the spring semester VISC courses. You do not have the option of repeating either course and must transfer to another major. Please hold onto all of your work completed in both classes. The Spring Portfolio Review is of all projects produced in both the fall and spring semesters in Visual Communication Design courses. The Visual Communication Design faculty use this review to determine if the students’ work is at a satisfactory level. Supplemental to the grade portion of the Portfolio Review, students are also evaluated on attendance, work habits, attitude, and the ability to listen and learn from constructive criticism.

Helpful Hints:
Attend class.
Show up and care.
Be present.
Attend workshops, events, lectures...
Save everything - it may come in handy later.

University Academic Support Centers Resources
KU Writing Center
Counseling and Psychological Services
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Students are required to attend class. Please be in class on time and remain for the entire period. Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each class period. Three late marks will equal one absence. A total of 3 absences will be allowed for any reason. On your 4th absence, your grade will drop by one full letter grade or you may be asked to withdraw from the course.

In the event of any absence, students are still responsible for obtaining all information and materials from the class period and completing all assignments on time. It is your sole responsibility to find out about any new work assigned during your absence. 

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or any contagious cold, it is imperative that you refrain from attending any KU classroom or entering any KU space. If you have symptoms, suspect exposure, or have been identified through contact tracing by healthcare professionals, it is crucial to follow the isolation guidelines provided by the CDC or KU policy.

If you miss a class for any reason, you must obtain the information and materials you may have missed. It is not the instructor’s duty to provide you with the missed content.

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, is irreparably detrimental to a student’s ability to succeed in our studio curriculum.

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

Everyone has the right to be referred to with their preferred name and pronouns. An opportunity to share names and pronouns will be provided on the first day of class. If there are any changes during the semester, feel free to inform me. The instructor and students in this course are expected to respect each other’s identities, names, and pronouns. If someone makes a mistake or misgenders another student, a brief apology and self-correction are appreciated. In case you feel that your identities are not being respected, including by the instructor, please let me know about the issue. If you prefer not to share with me directly, you can consider reaching out to other resources like the Center for Sexuality & Gender Diversityor the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX.

Students who are in the process of updating their name at KU can refer to the Center for Sexuality & Gender Diversity’s “Name & Gender Marker Changes at KU” guide at

The Student Access Center (SAC) coordinates academic accommodations and services for all eligible KU students with disabilities. If you have a disability for which you wish to request accommodations and have not contacted SAC, please do so as soon as possible. They are located in 22 Strong Hall and can be reached at 785-864-4064 (V/TTY). Information about their services can be found at Please contact me privately in regard to your needs in this course.

The University of Kansas supports an inclusive learning environment in which diversity and individual differences are understood, respected, and appreciated. We believe that all students benefit from training and experiences that will help them to learn, lead, and serve in an increasingly diverse society. All members of our campus community must accept the responsibility to demonstrate civility and respect for the dignity of others. Expressions or actions that disparage a person’s or group’s race, ethnicity, nationality, culture, gender, gender identity/expression, religion, sexual orientation, age, veteran status, or disability are contrary to the mission of the University. We expect that KU students, faculty, and staff will promote an atmosphere of respect for all members of our KU communityThis is an inclusive classroom. At KU, administrators, faculty, and staff are committed to the creation and maintenance of “inclusive learning” spaces. These are classrooms, labs, and other places of learning where you will be treated with respect and dignity and where all individuals are provided equitable opportunity to participate, contribute, and succeed.

As a premier learning and research institution, the University of Kansas must continuously address issues of diversity and multiculturalism. Every member of the university community is expected to engage in action that leads toward the development of a more democratic and inclusive community. Proactive efforts towards increasing diversity and the elimination of discrimination are necessary in our university. 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, gender identity, gender expression, and genetic information in the university's programs and activities. Retaliation is prohibited. Contact the Director of the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX,, Room 1082, Dole Human Development Center.

ArcD Student Hub
Weekly announcements, advising info, policies and resources, job postings, internships, scholarship opportunities, upcoming electives and study abroad trips, student organizations information and events!

Connect with Your Academic Advisors
Real-time conversations with an academic advisor are the fastest path to assistance and support. The ARC/D advisors offer two kinds of real-time availability: 1. Virtual Drop-In Hours - Any undergraduate student is welcome at virtual drop-in hours and 2. Scheduled In-Person Appointments. Check out the website for more information or to setup an appointment.

The student conduct process exists to protect the rights of the community. The rights and privileges of the individual are components of a community. These rights are protected with vigilance equal to the enforcement of rules and procedures. When a student is unable to conform their behavior to community expectations and values the student should no longer share in the privilege of participating in this community.

RESPECT: You are expected to show positive regard for each other.
COMMUNITY: You are expected to build and enhance a community of your peers.
INTEGRITY: You are expected to exemplify honesty, honor and respect for the truth in all your dealings.
RESPONSIBILITY: In relation to student rights, you are given and accept a high level of responsibility to self, to others and the community.

Academic misconduct will not be tolerated in this class. 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, 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; plagiarizing of another's work; or otherwise acting dishonestly.

Disruptive Behavior: The scope and content of the material included in this course are defined by the instructor in consultation with the responsible academic unit. While the orderly exchange of ideas, including questions and discussions prompted by lectures, discussion sessions and laboratories, is viewed as a normal part of the educational environment, the instructor has the right to limit the scope and duration of these interactions. Students who engage in disruptive behavior, including persistent refusal to observe boundaries defined by the instructor regarding inappropriate talking, discussions, and questions in the classroom or laboratory may be subject to discipline for non-academic misconduct for disruption of teaching or academic misconduct.

Consequences may include course failure, departmental suspension, or expulsion from the university.

List of Policies and Resources on ArcD website

ArcD Student Hub
This new site is a great resource for all KU Architecture & Design students. Visit it to see weekly announcements, advising info, policies and resources, job postings, internships, scholarship opportunities, upcoming electives and study abroad trips, student organizations information and events! The site will be updated weekly during the academic year.

Connect with Your Academic Advisors
Real-time conversations with an academic advisor are the fastest path to assistance and support. The ARC/D advisors offer two kinds of real-time availability: 1. Virtual Drop-In Hours - Any undergraduate student is welcome at virtual drop-in hours on Mondays and Thursdays from 12:30-4:30 p.m and 2. Scheduled In-Person Appointments. Check out the website for more information or to setup an appointment.

The Student Access Center (SAC) coordinates academic accommodations and services for all eligible KU students with disabilities. If you have a disability for which you wish to request accommodation and have not contacted SAC, please do so as soon as possible. They are located in 22 Strong Hall and can be reached at 785-864-4064 (V/TTY). Please contact me privately in regard to your needs in this course.

Writers need feedback, sounding boards, and other people to coach them while they compose. That's where the KU Writing Center comes in. It's a place for productive talk about writing, with trained peer consultants to help you brainstorm, draft, and revise your projects.

University Academic Support Centers provides a variety of academic support programs designed to support learning for all KU students.

Academic Learning Center offers many services and programs to assist students in their academic success and to enhance their collegiate experience at KU.

CAPS Personal Counseling Services can help students with issues related to adjusting to college and other psychological, interpersonal, and family problems. Individual sessions, group sessions and psychiatric services are available.


Academic Misconduct
Change of Grade
Commercial Note-Taking
Commitment to Integrity and Ethical Conduct
Diversity and Inclusion
KBOR Statement on Free Expression
Mandatory Reporting
Nondiscrimination, Equal Opportunity, and Affirmative Action
Racial and Ethnic Harassment Policy 
Sexual Harassment
Student Rights and Responsibilities
Weapons, Including Firearms