Project. Typographic Design for Accessibility and Audience
Purpose. This is a pragmatic second-year project that introduces the student to some of the techniques used by publication designers to make extensive texts accessible and attractive to a specific audience.
Assignment. This project provides the students with a practice-oriented counterpoint to the more foundational and academic assignments in our program. In prompting the careful observation of editorial design, it engages the students in the thought processes inherent to making a lengthy text highly readable and, ultimately, competitive in the daily onslaught of information.
Step 1: Have each student bring in a magazine and lay them all out on a large table, open to the first spread of an article. Ask them to point out similarities in treatment and discuss with them the various applications and importance of headlines, subheads, "kickers", leader paragraphs, primary and secondary drop caps, side bars, pull quotes, picture captions and how the articles are divided into sections. If time permits, talk about how the visual vocabulary of periodicals has changed over the years.
Step 2: Ask them to write their own article about something that
they care about and wish to communicate to other people. This usually involves
some research into a specific topic. It must be long enough to fill a couple
of two-page spreads with images. Have the students develop a concept for presenting
their articles, using the discussions in step 1 as a basis, and design magazine
spreads with a computer layout application. All copy - headlines, subheads,
body copy and captions - as well as photos and illustrations must be created
by the student (except in the case of thoroughly credited images for historical
topics). These must be created to quality standards set by the instructor.
In critiques, discuss the design concept for each article as well as specifics
such as appropriateness of the selected types, type size, leading, column width,
margin width, gutter width, rules and effective use of space.
Format. Two-page spreads: 11 X 17 inches (275 X 425 centimeters)
Time. 3-4 weeks. 2 class meetings weekly; each class is 3 hours.