This lesson aims to teach students about fonts and their appeal in design for print and online publications. Choosing a great font can on its own create a great design or make a powerful statement. Choosing the wrong font can make a publication useless in attracting readers. To that purpose, students will learn the difference between serif, sans serif, script and decorative fonts to use them effectively. Students also will learn the anatomy of a font and font attributes.
There is also a middle school version of this lesson.
- Students will classify fonts based on four basic categories.
- Students will identify fonts suited to a specific purpose such as headline, secondary headline, caption and copy.
- Students will identify the font choice used in sample layouts and advertisements.
- Students will construct a font style guide for a layout or spread to be used in a student media such as newspaper, yearbook, literary magazine, news magazine, or online news site.
Common Core State Standards
|CCSS.ELA.Literacy.W-9-10.2d||Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of a subject.|
|CCSS.ELA.Literacy.L.9-10.3||Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.|
|CCSS.ELA.Literacy.L.9-10.4||Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 9-10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.|
|CCSS.ELA.Literacy. L.9-10.6||Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.|
Graphing paper (or computers with software such as Adobe InDesign or Photoshop)
1. Introduction — 15 minutes
Introduce Typography Terms handout to the class. Students will learn about font categories such as serif, sans serif, script and decorative or display type. These four basic categories classify most forms of type, although there are more modern or specific subcategories. If possible, display an example of each type as you go. It is important for students to understand the concept of extending strokes, or feet, on characters so they can distinguish between serif and sans serif. Students also will learn about the types of fonts best suited to specific types of written content in a layout. (5 minutes)
2. Build skills — 20 minutes
After receiving Typography Classifications and Best Practices handouts, students will create a style guide for a layout/spread for the newspaper, yearbook, literary magazine, news magazine or online news site.
They will complete the Font Style Guide worksheet by choosing a headline font, secondary headline font, body copy font and caption font. For each font, students will give an explanation about why they chose the fonts for each part of the style guide. Students may use typography websites on classroom computers or mobile devices to look up different font choices or may use computer software such as Adobe InDesign or Photoshop, Microsoft Word or whatever is available. All students will turn in their Font Style Guide in at the end of class.
3. Application — 10 minutes
Distribute Font Identification handout. Assign students to classify each font example from the typography classification worksheet. Students will receive extra points for classifying the font samples with their modern classifications as well as the four basic categories. Collect their worksheets at the end of class.
For homework, students will find five examples of advertisements, sample layouts or Web pages that use different font choices for body copy, captions, secondary headlines and headlines. They can capture screen shots of examples online or provide hard copies from print publications.
1. Skill development — 20 minutes
Using the examples provided from their homework assignment, students will classify the fonts used for headlines, secondary headlines, body copy and captions. Students will record the information on the Font Sample Identification and Name handout.
After classifying the fonts, students will attempt to find the font name/family used for each category by using computers with Internet access, mobile devices and/or software such as Adobe InDesign or Photoshop (or whatever is available). This also works well as a small group activity, especially if not all students bring the examples assigned as homework. Groups of three can select among the examples they brought and can work together to use five total; this also helps if computer access is limited.
Font Style Guide Rubric
|Headline||The headline font is not creative or unique, and does not attract the viewer’s attention. It clashes with the other fonts, and stands out too much from the rest of the font choices. Some letters are hard to distinguish.||A unique and eye-catching font has not been chosen for the headline font. The font is not overly creative but it is still able to be read. Most letters are identifiable. The headline font clashes somewhat with the other fonts.||A unique and eye-catching font has been chosen for the headline font. The font is creative yet still able to be read. All letters are identifiable. The headline font does not clash with the other fonts.||____ / 10|
|Secondary Headline||There is no clear distinction between the headline and secondary headline font choice, and/or there is not clear distinction between the secondary headline font and the copy and caption font choices.||Font is not as easily read, and doesn’t really match the headline. The font too closely resembles the body copy and caption font, and is not easily identifiable as the secondary font.||Font is easily read at a larger size, and matches the headline. The font differs from the body copy and caption font, and is very clearly a secondary headline.||____ / 10|
|Caption||Font is hard to read, and is overly decorative. Letters run too closely together, and sometimes letters are confusing because they cannot be easily distinguished.||Font is somewhat easy to read at smaller sizes. Characters sometimes run together too closely but each letter is still easily distinguishable.||Font is easily read at smaller sizes. Characters don’t run together too closely and each letter is easily distinguishable.||____ / 10|
|Body Copy||Font is hard to read, and is overly decorative. Letters run too closely together, and sometimes letters are confusing because they cannot be easily distinguished.||Font is somewhat easy to read at smaller sizes. Characters sometimes run together too closely but each letter is still easily distinguishable.||Font is easily read at smaller sizes. Characters don’t run together too closely and each letter is easily distinguishable.||____ / 10|
|Cohesion||Font choices don’t match, contrast too much with each other, and/or each font distracts the viewer.||Font choices somewhat match, but may contrast with each other, causing some distraction to the viewer.||Chosen fonts match each other, or contrast effectively, with each font complementing the others.||____ / 10|
|Total points||____ / 50|