Typography and Information Design
School of Design
Communications Design Department
3 BFA Studio Credits
Prerequisite: ComD 240 & 242
The evolution of information dissemination media (print, radio, film, video, interactive) and the prevalence of digital channels over traditional print formats, together with the increasing demand for the consumption of quantitative data, requires a higher level of data structure understanding and manipulation skills.
Through the practice of typography and information design, this course invites students to study and question how people learn or prefer to learn and how they use information. It also raises questions about how to present information and design interfaces for cultural and other contextual differences in the audience and addresses the place of modern typographic and information design in historical context.
The course will provide three different levels of knowledge acquisition: historical, theoretical, and practical knowledge with guidelines for the construction of effective interfaces, information graphics and data visualizations. It will provide students with critical and analytical tools that can benefit the design process of communicating through the organization of information.
Projects will consist of complex deliverables that integrate expressive and hierarchical typography and the presentation of multi-layered data or information. Generally speaking, project will increase in length, number of components and complexity throughout the course of the semester.
Classes generally will take the form of group critiques, though occasional one-on-one discussions will also take place. Parts of class will also be dedicated to lectures and discussions revolving around reading of assigned texts and printed materials, as well as quizzes and tests on this content. There will be exams that test student knowledge of history and terminology.
Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable, and appealing when displayed. The arrangement of type involves selecting typefaces, point sizes, line lengths, line-spacing (leading), and letter-spacing (tracking), and adjusting the space between pairs of letters (kerning). The term typography is also applied to the style, arrangement, and appearance of the letters, numbers, and symbols.
Information design is the practice of presenting information in a way that fosters efficient and effective understanding of it. The term has come to be used specifically for graphic design for displaying information effectively, rather than just attractively or for artistic expression. Information design is closely related to the field of data visualization.
- To introduce the history of writing systems, information graphics and interface design, as well as the appropriate vocabulary of terminology for each area.
- To explore how to convey complex concepts through the organization and representation of content.
- To understand how the cognitive processes that govern knowledge and data acquisition might inform the development of effective visual communications.
- To acquire an understanding of rule-based design and visual systems that can generate cohesive design solutions across a variety of media formats.
Student Learning Outcomes:
Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:
- Articulate an understanding of the structure and application of typographic elements.
- Identify data visualization techniques and their application to effective visual communications.
- Apply user centered and design thinking processes for the development of design concepts and strategies.
- Employ structure, hierarchy, sequence, editing and layering to communicate multiple levels of information, including verbal content, numeric data sets and other complex content through clear and compelling layouts and visualizations.
- Comment and critique elements and structure of a design related to content dissemination, using appropriate terminology.
Students will be required to complete four assignments during the semester. Each projects are designed to address specific aspects of typography and information design. Students will continue working on each projects until the end of the semester, and present more than two projects at the semester-end review.
Students will be required to research typographic classifications, select three typefaces as well as typographic visual style to create monogram that represent who they are. (Reading: Thinking with Type: Letterform / Page 10 to 59)
Each student will team up with one of their classmates and create heraldry to each other. They will interview their partner, design 10 visual signs (icons, index, and symbols) that represent him/her, and design visual identity for him/her using heraldry as a platform. (Reading: Graphic Design Thinking: Page 88 to 91, Visual Research: 59 to 87)
Students will create a tea brand and design visual identity, packaging and landing page. Student will research tea and its culture, create a story and experience (product or service) and present it as a new brand.
4. Data Diary
Repuired at Each Class
Every week, students will be required to find and collect ten great typographic design samples, pick three to trace with tracing paper and pencil and recreate the design either digitally or with the same tool the designer used. This weekly exercise will train their eyes, and help help develop sense of scale, rhythm and balance in the handling of typography and iconography.
Process Book (For Each Projects)
Student will be required to document the creative process from debriefing to development in a process book. A process book help students become more aware of the creative process. Also, it is an easy way to share the backstory of a project — it allows a viewer (other students and instructor) to see the progression of a project. It must be organized according to course/program guidelines and specific format.
Exams and Quizzes
There will be exams and quizzes throughout the semester.
Readings will be required throughout the semester, giving students critical insight into the history and context of typography and information design. Students are expected to write a short summary (in bullet points) of what they have read. One to two students are assigned to present the material to the class in 10 minutes.
- The Elements of Typographic Style. Version 4.0 by Robert Bringhurst,
- Thinking With Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students. 2nd edition by Ellen Lupton
- Envisioning Information by Edward Tufte
- The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman,
Recommended (but not required) Reading
- Designing Interactions by Bill Moggridge
- Computers as Theater by Brenda Laurel
- What Is Interaction Design? by Gillian Crampton Smith
- Typographic Design: Form and Communication by Ben Day, Philip B. Meggs and Rob Carter
- About Face by David Jury
- A Type Primer by John Kane
- Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works by Erik Spiekermann
All Sophomores will participate in Final Reviews during the 15th session of their Typography and Information Design course. Students will be asked to present a selection of work from Typography and Information Design, Dynamic Imagery and Digital Prototyping to a group of faculty reviewers. Students will present their work as an interactive pdf, featuring animation where appropriate, and may support that presentation with select physical work. Students will be given 7 minutes to present their work, and receive 6 minutes of faculty feedback. The presentation must contain a numbered thumbnail page at the end referencing all projects that were presented.
Please note that as part of the Final Review process, physical copies and digital files of select work will be collected for departmental assessment and will not be returned. In addition, faculty may request specific digital files of work for promotional use or for submission to design competition.
Attendance and Participation
There are no unexcused absences or cuts.
Students are expected to attend all classes. Any unexcused absence and tardiness may affect your final grade. Three unexcused absences automatically result in course failure. Two unexcused tardiness will be considered as one absence.
Class participation is an important part of this course. Students are expected to contribute to classroom discussion at every class meeting: to ask questions, make a comment or observation, respond to questions asked by faculty, guest presenters or classmates. Students are expected to work in class and be ready to sketch, work with analog or digital processes and present and discuss their assignments every week. Class participation will be monitored and the student’s grade will reflect the contribution made each week.
Class time is devoted to presentations and critiques within which you will be asked to review your classmates’ displayed work. Such evaluations are very important in the development of self-analytical judgment.
Each class runs for 4.20 hours. You are expected to arrive on time and be prepared to work for the entire period. Although in-class work sessions are an integral component of this course, homework on assignments will be necessary to meet project deadlines. Significant progress on work will be expected between classes. You are responsible for coming to class with the completed assignment work as well as related research materials. Weekly assignment not completed to deadline will also be considered as absense.
Personal wireless devices must be inaudible at all times and used only for class purposes.
Materials necessary for this course include any media and supplies that you prefer to use for the production of sketches, finished comps and presentations, as well as any that may be required by your instructor for specific assignments. Digital scans, printouts and storage media will also be required.
Assessment and Grading
Assignment & Project Grades
Student level of achievement of the course Student Learning Objectives is by project grades based on the following criteria:
- Concept and Development (20%)
- Experimentation and Risk Taking (20%)
- Craftsmanship and Technical Skill (20%)
- Engagement with class discussion(20%)
- Process Book (20%)
Your weekly My Type assignment, reading assignment and presentation will also be graded on the same criteria. Project and assignment not completed by due date are automatically downgraded. Assignments are graded on an A–F scale.
Your final grade is based upon the performance evaluation criteria listed above as well as your attendance, punctuality, and class conduct.
A grade of Incomplete (INC) will be considered only for medical reasons or other serious circumstances beyond your control. Last-minute printing problems or loss of files because you did not back them up are not legitimate reasons for an Incomplete grade.
Students are required to submit complete digital files of each finished projects and process books. A finished model and digital photos of each model are also due when appropriate.
If you are majoring in advertising art direction, graphic design, or illustration, you are required to participate in semester-end Final Review. Failure to do so will result in a grade of F for the course.
A (4.0) / A- (3.7)
Excellent Sustained level of superior performance in all areas of course requirements.
B+ (3.3) / B (3.0) / B- (2.7)
Above average Consistent level of performance that is above average in a majority of the course requirements.
C+ (2.3) / C (2.0)
Acceptable Performance that is generally average and course requirements are achieved.
C- (1.7) / D+ (1.3) / D (1.0)
Below average Poor level of work and performance and achievement of the course requirements
Failure Accomplishment of the course requirements is not sufficient to receive a passing grade
Incomplete Automatically expires after the following semester.
Course Calendar / Schedule:
My Type assignments will be reviewed every week unless otherwise instructed.
- Introduction to the course.
Discuss course syllabus, My Type assignment, reading assignments & presentation, process book, and each projects.
Type of Monogram Project: Brief & Discussion
My Type: Review and Work in Class
Review Type of Monogram project
Thinking with Type, Page 10 to 59
Presentation about Type Classification
Type of Monogram: Class Discussion.
Type of Heraldry Project: Brief & Discussion
This Means This, This Means That, Page 21 to 48
Presentation about Sign (Icon, Index, and Symbol)
Type of Monogram: Class Critique
Type of Heraldry Project: Group Discussion.
Type of Tea: Brief + Discussion
Visual Research, 59 to 87
Presentation about Heraldry
Type of Heraldry: Class Discussion
Type of Heraldry: Class Critique
Type of Tea / Group & Class Discussion
Thinking with Type: Page 84 to 147
Presentation about typographic hierarchy
(Early) Mid-Term. Individual tutorials. Review of all work: Assignments, projects & Process Book
My Type: Group Discussion + Work in Class
Type of Tea: Group Discussion
Type of Tea Project: Class Critique.
Data Diary Project: Brief + Discussion.
Thinking with Type, Page 148 to 207
Presentation about Grid
Data Diary: Group Discussion.
Envisioning Information by Edward R. Tufte
Page 12 to 36
Data Diary: Group Discussion
Envisioning Information by Edward R. Tufte
Page 37 to 80
Data Diary: Class Discussion.
Envisioning Information by Edward R. Tufte
Page 81 to 120
Data Diary: Class Critique
All Assignment: Class Critique
Data Humanism, the Revolution will be Visualized by Giorgia Lupi, on Medium (Online Article)
All Project Review
Final Review/ Rehearsal
Pratt Institute-Wide Information
Academic Integrity Policy
At Pratt, students, faculty, and staff do creative and original work. This is one of our community values. For Pratt to be a space where everyone can freely create, our community must adhere to the highest standards of academic integrity.
Academic integrity at Pratt means using your own and original ideas in creating academic work. It also means that if you use the ideas or influence of others in your work, you must acknowledge them.
- We do our own work,
- We are creative, and
- We give credit where it is due.
Based on our value of academic integrity, Pratt has an Academic Integrity Standing Committee (AISC) that is charged with educating faculty, staff, and students about academic integrity practices. Whenever possible, we strive to resolve alleged infractions at the most local level possible, such as between student and professor, or within a department or school. When necessary, members of this committee will form an Academic Integrity Hearing Board. Such boards may hear cases regarding cheating, plagiarism, and other infractions described below; these infractions can be grounds for citation, sanction, or dismissal.
Academic Integrity Code
When students submit any work for academic credit, they make an implicit claim that the work is wholly their own, completed without the assistance of any unauthorized person. These works include, but are not limited to exams, quizzes, presentations, papers, projects, studio work, and other assignments and assessments. In addition, no student shall prevent another student from making their work. Students may study, collaborate and work together on assignments at the discretion of the instructor.
Examples of infractions include but are not limited to:
- Plagiarism, defined as using the exact language or a close paraphrase of someone else’s ideas without citation.
- Violations of fair use, including the unauthorized and uncited use of another’s artworks, images, designs, etc.
- The supplying or receiving of completed work including papers, projects, outlines, artworks, designs, prototypes, models, or research for submission by any person other than the author.
- The unauthorized submission of the same or essentially the same piece of work for credit in two different classes.
- The unauthorized supplying or receiving of information about the form or content of an examination.
- The supplying or receiving of partial or complete answers, or suggestions for answers; or the supplying or receiving of assistance in interpretation of questions on any examination from any source not explicitly authorized. (This includes copying or reading of another student’s work or consultation of notes or other sources during an examination.)
For academic support, students are encouraged to seek assistance from the Writing and Tutorial Center, Pratt Libraries, or consult with an academic advisor about other support resources.
Refer to the Pratt website for information on Academic Integrity Code Adjudication Procedures.
General Pratt Attendance Policy
Pratt Institute understands that students’ engagement in their program of study is central to their success. While no attendance policy can assure that, regular class attendance is key to this engagement and signals the commitment Pratt students make to participate fully in their education.
Faculty are responsible for including a reasonable attendance policy on the syllabus for each course they teach, consistent with department-specific guidelines, if applicable, and with Institute policy regarding reasonable accommodation of students with documented disabilities. Students are responsible for knowing the attendance policy in each of their classes; for understanding whether a class absence has been excused or not; for obtaining material covered during an absence (note: instructors may request that a student obtain the material from peers); and for determining, in consultation with the instructor and ahead of time if possible, whether make-up work will be permitted.
Consistent attendance is essential for the completion of any course or program. Attending class does not earn students any specific portion of their grade, but is the pre-condition for passing the course, while missing class may seriously harm a student’s grade. Grades may be lowered a letter grade for each unexcused absence, at the discretion of the instructor. Even as few as three unexcused absences in some courses (especially those that meet only once per week) may result in an automatic “F” for the course. (Note: Students shall not be penalized for class absences prior to adding a course at the beginning of a semester, though faculty may expect students to make up any missed assignments.)
Pratt Institute respects students’ requirements to observe days of cultural significance, including religious holy days, and recognizes that some students might need to miss class to do so. In this, or other similar, circumstance, students are responsible for consulting with faculty ahead of time about how and when they can make up work they will miss.
Faculty are encouraged to give consideration to students who have documentation from the Office of Health and Counseling. Reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities will continue to be provided, as appropriate.
Refer to the Pratt website for information on Attendance.
Students with Disabilities
The instructor will make every effort to accommodate students with both visible and invisible disabilities. While it is advisable that students with disabilities speak to the instructor at the start of the semester if they feel this condition might make it difficult to partake in aspects of the course, students should feel free to discuss issues pertaining to disabilities with the instructor at any time. Depending on the nature of the disability, and the extent to which it may require deviations from standard course policy, documentation of a specific condition may be required, in compliance with conditions established by the campus Learning Access Center, and in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Students who require special accommodations for disabilities must obtain clearance from the Office of Disability Services at the beginning of the semester. They should contact Elisabeth Sullivan, Director of the Learning Access Center, 718-636-3711.
In line with Pratt’s Attendance Policy, Pratt Institute respects students’ requirements to observe days of cultural significance, including religious holy days, and recognizes that some students might need to miss class to do so. In this, or other similar, circumstance, students are responsible for consulting with faculty ahead of time about how and when they can make up work they will miss.
Departmental Attendance Policy
There are no unexcused absences or cuts. Students are expected to attend all classes. Any unexcused absence may affect your final grade. Three unexcused absences may result in course failure at the discretion of the instructor. Unexcused tardiness may also affect your final grade.
Personal wireless devices must be inaudible at all times and used only for class purposes with permission of the instructor.