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Lesson: Digging into Typography


Digging into Typography


This second lesson in the design foundations unit exposes students to basic concepts in typography through discussion and analysis of professional designs.


  • Students will be able identify the four basic categories of type.
  • Students will be able apply common design language to format type.
  • Students will understand the role of type in a design’s effectiveness.

Common Core State Standards



Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context.


Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.


Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.


55 minutes

Materials / resources


Slideshow: Understanding Typography

Rubric: Understanding Typography Assignment



Newspapers and magazines



Lesson step-by-step

1. Warm-up activity — 10 minutes

Using a projector, display a newspaper, magazine or yearbook spread you find interesting/appealing. Ask students to write in their journal what stands out to them in the design. What are they most drawn to, and why?

Make a list of the various comments students provide, i.e. color, display type, photo, etc. Tally their votes. Do their votes match your thoughts? Discuss.

2. Direct instruction — 30 minutes

Use the Understanding Typography slideshow to present material on type classifications, terminology, formatting, alignment, measurements and mixing typefaces. Pause for discussion as needed and check for understanding.

3. Practice — 20 minutes (Finish as homework if necessary.)

To complete this assignment, students will look through old newspapers and magazines to find and cut out examples of the following type classifications:

  • 2 examples of serif type
  • 2 examples of sans serif type
  • 2 examples of script type
  • 2 examples of novelty/decorative type

Instruct students to glue the examples to a sheet of paper (or multiple sheets depending on example sizes) and number them accordingly. On a separate sheet of lined paper, students should write 2-3 sentences for each example explaining why they are good representations of those elements … what made them stand out?

The assignment should be evaluated using the rubric provided.



Students can be paired for the practice activity in order to match those who need extra support with a partner, or they can find one example of each criteria instead of two. Some students may need to explain their examples orally instead of completing the written component.

If the class is a mixture of advanced and beginning students, those who need enrichment or an extension can create their own examples using desktop publishing software instead of finding examples from existing print designs.