Typographic and Grid Systems


Corrin Hiripitiyage/Quicksand Typeface/Radial Typographic System

Wesley Nass/Forma Typeface/Column Typographic System

Brianna Livingston/Schmalhans Typeface/Column: slicing Typographic system

Bailey Crouch/Domus Typeface/Bi-Lateral Typographic System

Chris Zambruski/Lato Typeface Manuscript Typographic System

Level: , ,
Duration: 7 weeks
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Bookmark Project

Project Brief

Choose and research a typeface

Typeface chosen must (at minimum) have 4 weights, numerals, caps and lowercase, the larger the family, the better—optional letters and glyphs are a bonus. Consider using a typeface that is not on everyone’s list, no mono-spaced or web fonts. This is a print project.

Read specific content in books (Making and Breaking the Grid by Timothy Samara and Typographic Systems by Kimberly Elam) related to specific grids assigned

12 tight pencil (not digital) sketches for each of the 10 following type and grid systems: 

In Typographic Systems book by Kimberly Elam






From the book Making and Breaking the Grid by Timothy Samara:





MODULAR (in Elam book as well)

10 Print Posters— one of each system (12x18\")

1 Print booklet—half size (9x6\") of posters —at least six systems of student\'s choice and one system for a cover. This booklet acts as a type specimen book.

1 Booklet Cover— may be a system already designed used for the cover or may design another.



Learning Objectives

1. Identify and design in typographic and grid systems

(Samara Book Making and Breaking the Grid and Elam book Typographic Systems)

2. Research and develop concepts for a project that ultimately works as both a series of individual pieces and as a family in a booklet/narrative form

3. Sketch in tight thumbnails

4. Critique other student\'s sketches and comps

5. Demonstrate knowledge of kerning, leading, alignment, hierarchy, line relationships, typeface combinations, principals of type organization

6. Demonstrate knowledge of elements and principles of design

7. Design with image and text

8. Identify and apply common considerations such as navigation, reading, hierarchy, legibility, pacing and sequence

9. Research, find, edit and/or write content





All digital and

10 (12 x 18") individual systems "posters" printed on white Epson paper (or they can ask for something else if appropriate for their project)

1 (6 x 9") accordion fold booklet and cover including at least 4 favorite systems/grids up to all 10 printed on the large format printer. 50% size of posters.

Assignments graded as well:

18 typeface choices to research

12 tight thumbnail pencils for each system — not digital—

First, second and third digital comps to size



Making and Breaking the Grid by Timothy Samara

Typographic Systems by Kimberly Elam

Grid Systems: Principles of Organizing Type by Kimberly Elam

Steven Heller's videos from Merz to Emigre part one and two

Back Issues of U&lc

Back issues of Emigre

Jessica Hische http://jessicahische.is/awesome & Present Tense featured speaker https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oL1qAO8iPLU

Abstract: The art of Design (Netflix) Paula Scher, Jonathan Hoefler (I try to show all episodes in this class) 

Hoefler & Co /discover.typography & news@typography.com



I've used and developed this assignment since Timothy Samara's book Making and Breaking the Grid was first printed in 2002. This project is intense and is almost the first half of the semester. The second half is naming and designing a publication of their own.

Best projects are born out of required tight thumbnails, a large enough type family and not relying on images.

Crit in small groups—yes, each student will end up with 144 sketches to critique. I give sketches a letter grade. 

Often we need to see three digital comps.

I overlap—have students sketch for new systems while they are refining others.

I have them sketch for two or three systems at a time—12 sketches of each.

I start with Kimberly Elam's Typographic systems first: RADIAL and DILATATIONAL, then AXIAL and BILATERAL.

Then into Samara's systems and end with Elam's TRANSITIONAL.

I'm taking out alternative architecture in the Spring—transitional is enough of an experimental system. 

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