TY1WTF-What the font? Making and using typefaces

Module Provider: Typography
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2023/4

Module Convenor: Dr Rob Banham
Email: r.e.banham@reading.ac.uk

Module Co-convenor: Dr Rob Banham
Email: r.e.banham@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

You are surrounded by fonts. Social media, text messages, email, branding, advertising, websites, books, magazines … Human (and machine) communication relies extensively on fonts, but what do you really know about them? How and why are new fonts created? And is it ever OK to use comic sans?! This module will introduce you to the world of typeface design, exploring the history, theory, and practice of making and using fonts and giving you the opportunity to design a typeface of your own. No background in design is required.


  • To provide an introduction to the history and theory of typeface design for a variety of scripts and languages from around the world.

  • To consider the impact of technology on the appearance of typefaces.

  • To explore key concepts such as typeface personality, legibility, and accessibility.

Assessable learning outcomes:

On successful completion of this module a student should:

  • Have a broad overview of developments in typeface design from 1420-2020

  • Appreciate the influence of font choice in graphic design

  • Demonstrate understanding of typeface classification and personality

  • Appreciate the challenges of creating new fonts

Additional outcomes:

On successful completion of this module a student should demonstrate:

  • Understanding and critical awareness of a range of primary and secondary sources.

  • Skills in analysis and presentation.

  • Appreciation of, and ability to apply, methods and theories relating to the creation of new letterforms.

Outline content:

The module will begin by looking at where our alphabets come from, the basic form of letters in the Latin alphabet, and the influence of different tools for making letters on font design. We will then explore how fonts changed in appearance, and why, between 1420 and 2020. In doing so we will consider the impact of new technologies and new media, the contributions of important innovators and pioneers, and the impact of colonialization. The core of the module will focus on how we can understand and analyse the influence that fonts can have on the people who read them and on a practical exploration of font creation.    

Global context:

Teaching on this module will consider the development of fonts from a global perspective, looking at scripts and languages from different cultures and regions. The module will also explore issues of colonialism in relation the creation of new fonts.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Teaching will be through a mix of pre-recorded lectures and interactive practical classes.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Practicals classes and workshops 10
Guided independent study:      
    Wider reading (directed) 72
    Advance preparation for classes 8
    Revision and preparation 40
    Carry-out research project 50
    Reflection 10
Total hours by term 0 160 40
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Project output other than dissertation 50
Set exercise 50

Summative assessment- Examinations:


Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Set exercise: multiple choice questions (50% of mark)

All students will complete the set exercise.

Typeface analysis: 1,000 words / 10 PowerPoint slides / 5-minute video presentation (50% of mark)


Practical project: proposal for a modular typeface (50% of mark)

Students will choose to complete either the typeface analysis or the practical project

Formative assessment methods:

Formative feedback on the report and practical project will be given during scheduled ‘project supervision’ classes.

Penalties for late submission:

The Support Centres will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: https://www.reading.ac.uk/cqsd/-/media/project/functions/cqsd/documents/cqsd-old-site-documents/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:

A mark of 40% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:

Resubmission of coursework in August/September; exact date to be notified.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

1) Required textbooks: 

2) Specialist equipment or materials: 

3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear: 

4) Printing and binding: 

5) Computers and devices with a particular specification: 

6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence: 

Last updated: 30 March 2023


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