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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.


Mark Jamra is a type designer, typographic designer and Associate Professor at Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine, USA. He has designed and produced typefaces for over 20 years and is the founder of TypeCulture, a digital type foundry and academic resource at He also designs books, creates short documentary films and is a partner in Alice Design Communication, a collective of communication design specialists in Portland. His typeface designs include: Alphatier, Brynmorgen Greek, Expo Sans, ITC Jamille, Latienne, Tacitus and Kinesis, an Adobe Original. His lettering and typefaces have been shown in numerous exhibitions and have received awards from the Type Directors Club and the Association Typographique Internationale.

Mark graduated with a BFA degree from Kent State University, USA, and completed his graduate studies in 1983 at the School of Design in Basel, Switzerland. He has lectured, conducted workshops and taught graphic design, typography, letterform design and type history at colleges in the U.S. and Europe. He has also been a typographic consultant to the Hewlett-Packard Research Laboratories in Bristol, England and for URW Software & Type GmbH in Hamburg, Germany.

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