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Type Design

Code: DGPEDT     Acronym: DT

Classification Keyword
CNAEF Design

Instance: 2022/2023 - 2S Ícone do Moodle Ícone  do Teams

Active? Yes
Web Page: https://typedesign.fba.up.pt/
Responsible unit: Design
Course/CS Responsible: Master in Graphic Design and Editorial Projects

Cycles of Study/Courses

Acronym No. of Students Study Plan Curricular Years Credits UCN Credits ECTS Contact hours Total Time
MDGPE 38 Plano de Estudos do MDGPE_Publicação em DR de 27 de agosto de 2020 1 - 9 60 243

Teaching Staff - Responsibilities

Teacher Responsibility
Pedro Manuel Reis Amado

Teaching - Hours

Theoretical and practical : 3,00
Type Teacher Classes Hour
Theoretical and practical Totals 2 6,00
Pedro Manuel Reis Amado 6,00

Teaching language

Suitable for English-speaking students


The objective of the Type Design course is to conceive, design, and develop a functional digital typeface, for editorial design purposes:

- To know and understand the history of Western writing - from the origin of symbolic writing, including calligraphic models and "hot" and "cold" type - and its relationship with today's digital typography;
- Understanding of the influence and expression of analog drawing tools: pen nibs, inks, position and stroke theory;
- Mastering the anatomy, terminology, and typographic classification;
- Mastery of design and digital production tools (using FontLab or similar font production software)
- Reflect on the principles of development of typography for editorial, its characteristics, and constraints;
-  Develop digital fonts for "body text use" in editorial projects.

Learning outcomes and competences

Once the course is concluded, the student will be prepared for:
- evaluate the quality of a drawing or typographic model in context;
- design a typeface for different editorial contexts;
- develop a functional digital variable font.

Working method



The program of the course is organized in 2 incremental modules so that students acquire the empirical and theoretical knowledge of the principles and problems adjacent to the design of a digital typeface, in incremental form:
1. Form theory (introduction to history and type design technique);
2. Type design and production (project).

In the first module the history of the development of Western writing up to the current digital typography is addressed. From its genesis, passing through the main Latin models. The essential anatomy and terminology of typefaces is clarified, as well as some classification systems taking into account the acquisition of operational and critical lexicon, contextualized in socio-technological evolution.

Students are also introduced to Noordzij's "The Stroke" theory to unify theoretical knowledge and consolidate manual practice.

From a practical point of view, in the first module, the students are also introduced to the tool(s) of type design and font production, creating a display keyword. It's addressed: principles and techniques of design of [bezier] curves, glyphs and character sets, measures and proportions, spacing, components and diacritics, masters and variations axes, and the mains digital font file formats.

In the second module, students are faced with the challenge of producing and distributing a digital type for an editorial context.

This is accomplished in the design and development of a variable font for body text. And its respective demonstration in the design and production of a specimen booklet.

They are contextualized in the problem of design and development of digital aesthetics, through the reflection of the concept of Revival. And the respective evaluation of the artifact produced in the wider context of the cultural production of typographic and editorial design.

From a practical point of view, the students complement the technical production skills, exploring the complete western character set (Latin-1), variations of OTVar axes, as well as the development of OpenType features, contextual and stylistic glyph substitution, and introduction to kerning.

Mandatory literature

Henestrosa, Cristóbal Meseguer, Laura Scaglione, José; Cómo Crear Tipografias: Del Boceto a la Pantalla, Tipo e Editorial, 2012. ISBN: 978-84-938654-1-2
McNeil, Paul; The visual history of type, Laurence King Publishing Ltd., 2017. ISBN: 1780679769
Unger, Gerard; Theory of Type Design, nai010, 2018. ISBN: 978-94-6208-440-7
Sheila Waters; Foundations of Calligraphy, Ingram, 2006. ISBN: 978-0966530513
Riccardo Olocco, Michele Patanè; Designing Type Revivals, Lazy Dog, 2022. ISBN: 978-88-98030-48-4
Dori Griffin; Type Specimens: A Visual History of Typesetting and Printing, ‎ Bloomsbury Academic, 2022. ISBN: ‎ 978-1350116597

Complementary Bibliography

Amado, Pedro; Multilingual Typeface Anatomy Terminology, DAI.ESMAE.IPP, 2012. ISBN: 978-989-20-3439-3
Robert Bringhurst; The^Elements of typographic style. ISBN: 978-0-88179-212-6
Cheng, Karen; Designing Type , Yale University Press , 2006. ISBN: 978-0300111507
Maier, Hans Eduard; The Development of Script and Type, Syntax Press, 1994. ISBN: 3-9520646-0-2
Pohlen, Joep Setola, Geert; Letter Fountain: The Anatomy of Type, Taschen GmbH, 2011. ISBN: 978-3836525091
Quelhas, Vítor; Design português de tipos digitais (1990–2010), Universidade de Aveiro, 2017
Samara, Timothy; Letterforms: Typeface Design from Past to Future, Rockport Publishers, 2018. ISBN: 978-1-63159-334-5
Mediavilla, Claude; Caligrafía: del signo caligráfico a la pintura abstracta, Campgràfic, 2005. ISBN: 8493344680
Chris Campe, Ulrike Rausch; Designing Fonts An Introduction to Professional Type Design, Thames and Hudson, 2020. ISBN: ‎ 978-0500241554
Stephen Coles; The^geometry of type. ISBN: 978-0-500-29245-7
Sofie Beier; Type Tricks: your personal guide to type design, Bis, 2017. ISBN: ‎ 978-9063694586
Paul Shaw; Revival type. ISBN: 978-0-500-24151-6
Jerry Kelly; Type Revivals, David R. Godine Publisher Inc, 2019. ISBN: 978-1567926477
Radek Sidun; Manual of Diacritics. Case studies of newly designed accents for contemporary typefaces , Academy of the Arts, Architectre and Design in Prague (UMPRUM), 2021. ISBN: 978-80-88308-17-1

Comments from the literature

Additional books, articles, theses, and tutorials to be provided in due course, according to individual and group projects and requirements.

Teaching methods and learning activities

The course is developed according to a theoretical-practical model that alternates formative classes with supervised project classes.

The main concepts and history are exposed in the formative classes. But there is also recourse to exercises and technical workshops in the main drawing techniques, design and production tools.

The exercises aim at exploring, solidifying, and consolidating the knowledge acquired through the resolution of specific problems. The workshops aim at the acquisition of fundamental technological skills.

The supervised project classes aim at the practical application of this knowledge in articulation with the learning acquired throughout the course. The aim is to develop the students' critical capacity through analysis and collective discussion of the work developed in class and other design projects.



Evaluation Type

Distributed evaluation without final exam

Assessment Components

Designation Weight (%)
Trabalho laboratorial 50,00
Trabalho prático ou de projeto 50,00
Total: 100,00

Amount of time allocated to each course unit

Designation Time (hours)
Elaboração de projeto 60,00
Frequência das aulas 60,00
Trabalho de investigação 53,00
Estudo autónomo 30,00
Trabalho laboratorial 40,00
Total: 243,00

Eligibility for exams

Average positive evaluation in the exercises and projects developed, and in the other evaluation parameters.

Calculation formula of final grade

  •  The final grade is calculated from the weighted average of the ratings obtained in the project carried out in each module:
    Module 1: 30%. Module 2: 70%

  • The knowledge acquired will be evaluated, demonstrated by the resolution of exercises and applied to the projects to be developed;

  • The conceptual component will be evaluated, as well as the capacity of project execution and the adequacy of the acquired knowledge to the effective resolution of design problems, as well as the capacity to communicate the projects under development;

  •  The integrity and responsibility of the students will be evaluated, in relation to the class, the projects, and the fulfillment of the deadlines associated to them.

Classification improvement

Only by subsequent course frequency.
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