University of Technology Sydney

87333 VC Technology: Typography, Text and Form

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2022 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Design, Architecture and Building: Design
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject advances students' knowledge and skill in the design and production of words and texts as well as the design of individual letterforms and typefaces. Following on from VC Technology: Visible Language, this subject overviews the historical development of written languages in the context of technological change, and critically examines contemporary applications of typographic forms. Through lectures and studio-practice, students achieve a progressive level of literacy in visual technologies and issues such as figure/ground relationships, hierarchical structures, spatial organisation, text setting for legibility and readability, typographic detailing of headline copy as well as individual letterforms.

Students are encouraged to integrate theory and practice, with theoretical issues presented and critically analysed in lectures, then personally researched through practical investigation. Knowledge and skills gained in this subject support the processing and presentation of design project work. The use of technologies for word/text processing and production are demonstrated and practical experience is gained in design studios and computing laboratories, which introduces and demonstrates the use of advanced applications of software programs that directly support the examination and processing of typographic forms and applications.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

1.2. originate and investigate the production of words/text and images by hand and technologically generation
1.1. understand the origins and development of letterforms, typefaces and symbols
2.1. develop imaginative visuals relevant to the specific demands of the project brief
2.2. thoughtfully structure the visual organisation and hierarchy of words and images within a given format
3.1. indicate a growing awareness of and sensitivity to the application of visible languages
3.2. process visuals through critical reflection and progressive digital refinement
4.1. produce visual work which has impact, clarity and engagement
4.2. produce visual work which is clear and convincing to a viewer
5.1. indicate attention to typographic detailing and visual refinement
5.2. present visuals which indicate sensitivity, thought, care and skill.

Teaching and learning strategies

Semester long subject, delivered through weekly Lectures, Design Studio classes and Computing Laboratories. Diverse Teaching and Learning Strategies include: group online discussions and debate.

Content (topics)

The subject will comprise of the following:
lectures: a series of illustrated lectures overviews the historical development and present discourse surrounding the contemporary practice of typography and type design in the context of technological change.      
demonstrations: a number of demonstrations in both lecture and laboratory sessions introduce advanced knowledge and technical skills in type setting and typographic structuring.
design studio: individual typographic projects, practical workshops and group research activities are undertaken, discussed and critiqued with learning groups and lecturers computer laboratories: practical applications of advanced digital functions aim to develop competence and engender a
comprehensive understanding of relevant computer programs as required by the demands of the project briefs.  
research: library research by individuals and as members of a learning group is developed through an electronic flexible learning program accessed from computer laboratories or externally via the Internet.


Assessment task 1: Type, Text and Image

Weight: 30%

Assessment task 2: Online live debate

Weight: 20%

Assessment task 3: Typeface Design

Weight: 50%

Required texts

Ambrose, G. and Harris, P. (2006) The Fundamentals of Typography. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA.
Jury, D (2006) What is Typography. Lausanne, Switzerland: Rotovision.
Kane, John. (2002) A Type Primer. London: Lawrence King.
Pohlen, Joep (2010). Letter Fountain: The Anatomy of Type. Taschen: Cologne, Germany (this is an excellent book, that can be bought for less than $45 from Amazon... excellent value)
Spiekermann, E. and Ginger, E. (1993) Stop Stealing Sheep: and find out how type works. Mountain View, California: Adobe Press Williams, J. (2012) Type Matters: simple tips for everyday typography. London: Merrell Publishers Limited

Recommended texts

Bringhurst, Robert (2001) The Elements of Typographic Style. Point Roberts WA: Hartley and Marks.
Clair, Kate. (1999) A Typographic Workbook. A Primer to History, Techniques and Artistry. New York: J. Wiley & Sons Inc
Felici, James. (2003) The Complete Manual of Typography. Peachpit Press: Berkeley. CA.
Garfield, Simon (2010). Just My Type. A Book about Fonts. Profile Books: London.
Weinmann, Elaine and Lourekas, Peter (2009). Illustrator CS4 for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide. Part of the Visual QuickStart Guide series: Peachpit Press (other guides are also available for InDesign and Photoshop).


Learning Guide
A Reader and Workbook (CN--------) have been produced to support this subject. These are designed to support you within this subject and the following semester’s typography subject. The Workbook and Reader are available for purchase contained within one CD from the UTS Union Shop. It is very strongly recommended that you purchase this CD. A copy is also available on closed reserve in the UTS Library.

Computer Support There are a large number of supportive computer user guides. Please find below the three best recommendations for you to chose from, for each of the three programs that will be used in this subject this semester.

Photoshop: Adobe Creative Team (2010) Adobe Photoshop CS5 Classroom in a Book. Berkeley: Adobe Press Smith, Jennifer and AGI Creative Team (2010) Photoshop CS5 Digital Classroom, (Book and Video Training). Hoboken: Wiley Weinmann, Elaine and Lourekas, Peter (2010) Photoshop CS5 for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide. Berkeley: Peachpit Press

InDesign: InDesign Adobe Creative Team (2010) Adobe InDesign CS5 Classroom in a Book. Berkeley: Adobe Press Smith, Christopher and AGI Creative Team (2010) InDesign CS5 Digital Classroom, (Book and Video Training). Hoboken: Wiley Cohen, Sandee (2010) InDesign CS5 for Macintosh and Windows: Visual QuickStart Guide. Berkeley: Peachpit Press

Illustrator Steuer, Sharon (2010) The Adobe Illustrator CS5 Wow! Book. Berkeley: Peachpit Press
Smith, Jennifer and AGI Creative Team (2010) Illustrator CS5 Digital Classroom, (Book and Video Training). Hoboken: Wiley
Adobe Creative Team (2010) Adobe Illustrator CS5 Classroom in a Book. Berkeley: Adobe Press

Typographic Principles
Baines, Phil & Haslam, Andrew. (2005) Type & Typography. Second Edition. London: Lawrence King /CSM
Carter, Rob and Ben Day and Philip Meggs. (1985) Typographic Design: Form and Communication. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold
Dair, Carl (1967) Design with Type. Toronto: University of Toronto Press
Jury, David (2002) About Face: Reviving the rules of typography. Mies, Switzerland: Rotovision SA.
Lupton, Ellen (2004). Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors and Students. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.
Lupton, Ellen and J. Abbott Miller (1996) ‘Period styles: a punctuated history’ in Design, Writing, Research: Writing on Graphic Design. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. pp.33-40
Spiekermann, Erik (1987) Rhyme and Reason: a Typographic Novel. Berlin: Berthold

Font and Experimental Typography
Abbink, Jeanette and Anderson, Emily, C.M (2010). 3D Typography. Mark Batty Publishers, NY.
Fawcett-Tang, Roger ed. (2007). New Typographic Design. Laurence King Publishers Ltd, London.
Klauten, Robert and Hellige, Hendrik (2008). Playful Type (Ephemeral Lettering and Illustrative Fonts). Gestalten: Berlin.
Klauten, Robert, Mischler, Mika, Bilz, Silja and Thoenen, Nik (2004). Type - One (Discipline and Progress in Typography). DGV - Die Gestalten Verbq.
Reyes, Fabiola (2007). Typo. The Beautiful World of Fonts. Instituto Monsa de Educiones.

Font Design
Baudin, Fernand (1989) How Typography Works (and why it is important). London: Lund Humphries.
Blackwell, Lewis (1998) Twentieth Century Type Remix. London: Laurence King
Lawson, Alexander (1990) Anatomy of a Typeface. Boston: David R. Godine.
Loxley, Simon (2006) Type: The Secret History of Letters. New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd
Meggs, Philip B. and McKelvey, Roy, Editors. (2000) Revival of the Fittest: digital versions of classic typefaces. New York: RC Publications.
Perfect, Christopher and Austen, Jeremy. The Complete Typographer. A manual for designing with type. London: Quarto Publishing. 1992
Tracy, Walter. (1986) Letters of Credit: a view of type design. London: Gordon Fraser.
Woolman, Matthew. (1997) Type: detective story: episode one: the crime scene. Crans, Switzerland: RotoVision.

History and Criticism
Blackwell, Lewis (2004) Twentieth Century Type: revised edition. London: Laurence King
Bierut, Michael and Drenttel, William and Heller, Stephen and Holland, DK (eds) (1994) Looking Closer 1. Critical Writings on Graphic Design. New York.
Bierut, Michael and Drenttel, William and Heller, Stephen and Holland, DK (eds). (1997) Looking Closer 2. Critical Writings on Graphic Design. New York.
Bierut, Michael and Helfand, Jessica and Heller, Stephen and Poynor, Rick. (eds) (1999) Looking Closer 3. Classic Writings on Graphic Design. New York.
Friedl, Friedrich and Ott, Nicolaus and Stein, Bernard (eds). (1998) Typo. When, who, how. Koln: Konemann,
Gottschall, Edward. (1989) Typographic Communications Today. Mass: MIT Press
Jean, Georges. (1994) Writing: The Story of Alphabets and Scripts. London: Thames and Hudson, New Horizons
Kinross, Robin. (1992) Modern Typography: An essay in Critical History. London: Hyphen Press
McLean, R. (ed.) (1995) Typographers on Type. London: Lund Humphries
Meggs, Philip. (1983) A History of Graphic Design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold,
Spencer, Herbert. (1969, revised 1985) Pioneers of Modern Typography. Mass: MIT Press

Additional Texts
Andersch, Martin. (1989) Symbols, Signs and Letters. New York: Design Press.
Gordon, Maggie and Dodd, Eugenie. (1990) Decorative Typography. Oxford: Phaidon
General inspiration
Blackwell, Lewis (2000) The End of Print: the Grafik Design of David Carson. London: Laurence King
Blackwell, Lewis, Lorraine Wild, and Lucy Bates (2000) Edward Fella: Letters on America. Princeton Architectural Press
Booth-Clibborn, Edward (2000) Urgent Images: The Graphic Language of the Fax. London: Booth-Clibborn
Elam, Kimberly (1990) Expressive Typography: The Word as Image. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
Fletcher, Alan (2001) The Art of Looking Sideways. London: Phaidon
Gill, Bob (1992) Graphic design made difficult. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold
Meggs, Philip B. and Carson, David (1999) Fotografiks. London: Laurence King Poyner, Rick Ed. (1996) Typography Now 2: Implosion, London: Booth-Clibborn
Poyner, Rick Ed. (1994) Typography Now: The Next Wave, London: Booth-Clibborn
Tomato (1999) Bareback: A Tomato Project, London: Laurence King
Triggs, Teal (2003) The Typographic Experiment: Radical Innovation in Contemporary Type Design. London: Thames and Hudson
Vanderlans, R. Licko, Z. Gray, M.E. (1993) Emigre: Graphic Design in the Digital Realm. NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold
Warwicker, John and Karl Hyde (1996) Process : A Tomato Project, London: Thames and Hudson.

Codex. The Journal of Typography. Quarterly publication. Information available from I Love Typography website. Visible Language. Cleveland, Ohio: Cleveland Museum of Art
Eye. London: Verlag/Edite for Wordsearch
Emigre. Berkeley, Calif: Emigre Graphics (no longer in print, but available in the UTS Library)
U & lc. New York: International Typeface Corp.
Baseline: international typographics magazine. London: Letraset. (
WOT ( published by The Journal of the International Society of Typographic Designers

The following sites are merely a starting point: (a site for students and designers, created to support the excellent Letter Fountain book in the essential text list) (iLT is designed to inspire and to make people more aware of the typography that’s around them. This is a rich typographic resource and archive that is regularly updated; full of examples of work, discussions and typo detailing) (the evolution of letterforms, a timeline of typographers, anatomy of type and a good glossary of typographic terms) (a good web accompaniment to Ellen Lupton’s book, Thinking with Type) (a site with some useful information about designing with grids and links to some interesting design/typographic sites) (a site with some useful explanations about typographic detailing) (a basic site, but useful for someone struggling with typographic anatomy and terminology) (a thorough glossary of typographic anatomy terms)
check out YouTube for videos on typography and font/type design

iPad Apps
LetterMPress. LetterMPress is a virtual letterpress environment created for the iPad. It enable you to creative relatively authentic looking letterpress printing, without getting your fingers covered with ink. See

Other resources