Fun With Fonts

Know the nuts and bolts of typography to add personality, distinction to your publication, blog or newsletter

By Rob Melton
When you talk about type, beginning with a video such as the one above is a great way to entertain and interest students in the study of typography. Once they are hooked, spending time learning the nuts and bolds is the next step.

Minnesota adviser Laurie Hansen at Stillwater (Minnesota) Area High School offers this typography lesson on fonts — the Font Fashion Show. Here’s how Laurie does it:

I know there’s a few yearbook advisers out there who do the font fashion show. I usually run out of time at the end of the year, but this year I finally made time for a small unit on typography, and then had the staff dress up in their font outfits today.

For those of you that already do this, consider adding food.

I added a twist and had the staff bring food for an end of the year picnic. They had to bring a food item that their chosen font would eat. I moved the desks and set up a “catwalk”, pulled up some catwalk music on Youtube, and it was a hoot. After the catwalk, the staff members had to introduce and discuss the font (showcase, serif, sans serif) give adjectives that describe their font, discuss common or best uses for the font, etc. They also had to introduce their food choice and why it was appropriate for their font.

I invited the principal to be the judge, and he awarded 1st place font queen, second and third place, and 3 “fontastic” honorable mentions. The winner “Papyrus” wore a Greek outfit and brought greek olives, yogurt, pita chips. Second place dressed up as a font called “Happy Housewife” complete with floral dress, apron and confetti cupcakes. My EIC dressed as “Flower Power” and brought some green organic juice. I’m glad I made time for the activity this year. The staff really got into it. A special thanks to Sarah Nichols for the inspiration handout on the Jostens Yearbook Avenue website.

Laurie Hansen, Stillwater Area High School, Stillwater, MN

For more typography and font lesson ideas and handouts, you can check these out:

Typography — Pair this handout with the above activity to bring everyone up to speed. Everything you’ll ever need to know about using type is in this reading: points and picas, type sizes, x-height, optimum line length, legibility, readability, alignment, leading, type classification, serif, sans serif, Roman, Square, Monotonal, Written, Text, Stylistic, Novelty, Ornamental, families of type, weights and styles, visual emphasis, things to avoid, font families, spacing standards, letterspacing, word spacing, tracking, kerning, hyphenation, typography project, quiz, activities, characters per pica, character count. Continue reading →

Journalism Math — There is a long-standing joke that journalists can’t do math. That may or may not be true, but most journalists know at least a little bit of math when it comes to layout and design. This handout BY TOM GAYDA, MJE, shows how math comes into play when dealing with typography. Continue reading →

Typography example worksheet — Typography is the study of type. Designers spend considerable time choosing just the right typeface to use when creating a page or spread. This worksheet BY TOM GAYDA, MJE, walks students through the terminology and applications behind typography.… Continue reading →

Typography Web Resources — This list of typography web resources BY SARAH NICHOLS from Rocklin, Calif., a self-professed type nerd and Yearbook Adviser of the Year, offers great online resources for the type enthusiast. Continue reading →

A Folder of Typography Lesson Ideas and Teaching Aids — Do-it-yourself by picking and choosing from the NWSP Curriculum Library on PBWorks. It’s a wiki-style site for our curriculum materials, but you can also use it as a staff wiki for your journalism staff. It’s free — the first 2 gigabytes, and you can buy more storage if needed. We’ve used it to post curriculum material for over a year and haven’t come close to the limit. The only drawback? You can’t preview the material before downloading it. For that, we prefer, which you can preview if you open the typography handout link, above. Continue reading →

Typography Test — We even have a multiple choice typography test to wrap it all up. Continue reading →

Journalism Teacher Classroom Materials. Teacher-created lesson plans, handouts, activities, tests and presentations wiki. Join and share your own material, too. Continue reading →

One last thing—