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Digging into typography


This is day two of a four-week unit plan that helps students learn the basic terminology, functions and foundations of design. Topics covered include typography, color, grids, formatting, spacing, measurements and modular design.



  • Students will identify the four basic categories of type.
  • Students will learn and recite definitions of design terms.
  • Students will know how to read and apply measurements.
  • Students will know how to format type using common design language.
  • Students will know the basic concepts of color application, purpose and use.
  • Students will learn and practice how to work within a grid using appropriate spacing and modular design strategies in Adobe InDesign.
  • Students will create layouts using different column grids using Adobe InDesign.
  • Students will learn and practice how to place, size, crop, edit and apply a stroke to photos using Adobe InDesign.
  • Students will learn and practice how to place, size and format headlines and body copy using Adobe InDesign.
  • Students will learn and practice how to use the various tools and functions of Adobe InDesign that are critical to layout presentation.


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.


Analyze how the text structures information or ideas into categories or hierarchies, demonstrating understanding of the information or ideas.


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.



This is day two of a four-week unit if class meets daily (55 minutes/class). Adjustments can be made accordingly.




Slideshow: Understanding typography

Middle school differentiated slideshow: Understanding typography



Old newspapers and magazines


Rubric: Typography assignment


Lesson step-by-step

1. Journal: Bell Assignment—10 minutes

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

Discussion – 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? Why or why not?

2. Present/discuss the “Understanding Typography” powerpoint in class—30 minutes

  1. Type classifications
  2. Terminology / formatting / alignment
  3. Measurements
  4. Mixing typefaces

3. Typography Homework Assignment—10 minutes (finish as homework if necessary)

Looking through old newspapers and magazines, find and cut out examples of the following type classifications:

  1. 2 examples of serif fonts
  2. 2 examples of sans serif fonts
  3. 2 examples of script fonts
  4. 2 examples of novelty/decorative fonts

Glue the examples to a sheet of paper (or multiple sheets depending on example sizes). Number and label them accordingly.

4. Clean up—5 minutes


Assignment should be graded/evaluated using the “Typography Assignment Rubric.”