Type Specimen Book

Design pages to be gathered into a Type Specimen Book.

samples from Ellen Lupton

Sample Spreads (letter-digit & typeface/anatomy from past years)
Letter-Digit Spread
Text Heavy Spread
Title Spread (colophon)
Typeface/Anatomy Spread

A type specimen, traditionally, is a publication, often in pamphlet or broadside (or broadsheet i, ii, iii) that demonstrates the range of a typeface applied to headlines and text in a variety of sizes. Prnters and typographers have produced type specimens for hundreds of years. Each variation of the typeface was shown, as well as all available sizes.

In a modern digital setting, type specimens [\Scala, OFA Promises Kept] have become more experimental being no longer conscripted by the available weights and sizes of hot metal cast typefaces—font size variations are endless—yet they remain a crucial way to promote and explain typefaces to designers that might want to buy and use them.

Your Type Specimen Book will begin with choosing a font with which you would have a love affair. Select a typeface for your project that has a substantial number of variations, such as Univers, Helvetica, Caslon, Baskerville, Garamond, Futura, or Bodoni. Any pro font would be a good choice. Be wildly flamboyant or classically conservative in your approach. You will lay it out as a 2-page spread or a broadsheet.



InDesign document, 16 (or more) facing pages, 9" x 9,".125 " bleed and a definite margin—I chose .5." Include master page items (common page elements, colors, including a grid), style sheets, and automatic page numbering. You may include hyperlinks, if you wish, as our PDF output supports them. You may use two fonts in the document layout—your love affair font and one other, as a compliment. Consider carefully the fonts you choose—mix responsibly!


Some of the pages are based on assignments/projects we have done in class. Choose from what you like best and combine, display, editorialize, and generally showcase the material.

Create new editorial content to write about what you include. Creative resume of your work in this class; thoughts, motivations, ideas, summary, chronology, etc. that you may have already posted can be reproduced here, in whole or in part and augmented as you go along. Take some license here but be thoughtful and consistent in your delivery and style.

The mandatory pages/spreads are outlined below. Some variance is permitted as assignments vary from semester to semester.


colophon (käl′ə fən, -fän′)

1. a notation often placed in a book, at the end, giving facts about its production; it can vary greatly in content and book page location
2. the distinctive emblem of the publisher, as on the title page or cover of a book—as printing evolved it went from text only info into logotypes

ContentTitleColphon.pdf (sample content—please make your colophon unique to your book)

Title page can be combined with colophon spread (some material is redundant) or designed as a separate page or spread.

Information categories you may wish to include:

• Artist & design contributors
• Author or source of text
Thanks and acknowledgements / sponsors
• Special information
• Name of typeface, paper, or other noteworthy materials
• Methods of printing or production
• Publisher / Press
• City of publication
• Edition size and number
• Signature, logo of artist and/or author
• Publisher's contact details
• Book buying details
Copyright information and/or ISBN number
• Publisher/logo of publisher
• Title of book
• Your name as editor/designer
• Year of publication
• Reference to this course
• Credit to any literature, photographs, illustrations used-cite your source

colophon examples (images)
shaped colophons (colophon examples and list of items you may wish to include on colophon page)
nice summary of colophon comprehension
(example of yearbook colophon)


Map to the interior of your book, to be taken on as a new design challenge, not just an incidental part—a well established hierarchy of information using spacing, type weights, upper and lower case, dot leaders, tables, and/or any amount of puncuation and textual device to achieve a easy-to-read and lively layout.Here is a good excuse to employ the use of DOT LEADERS!

(innovative examples old and new)


Hand drawn/Illustrator generated examples of your prototype typeface—protoface! (display along side at least two samples of a bitmapped fonts found in nature: cash register receipt, cardboard box text, expiration dates on packaging, concert tickets, LED signs, etc.)


Use established master page baseline grid and employ certain relative leading sizes to match those baselines; grid for entire book from the master page also works for this spread. Apply hanging puncuation, drop caps, super and subscripts, baseline shifts, balance ragged lines, align text within text boxes, hyperlinks, ligatures, glyphs, tonal changes. Also learn about prefab shape corner options, and style sheets. Use provided content or around 700 words acquired from wiki website listed below.

ContentTextHeavy.docx (778 words are provided here; use around 700 words; Use completed text. Don't just cut it off at 700!)

Content text for your Text Heavy spread(s) is provided above for you to copy/paste, or you may prefer to gather different (but related) content yourself by visiting this site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typography - delve in and follow various links to build a body of content based on typography; use around 700 words!

ContentTextHeavy.pdf (778 words are provided here; use these or acquire around 700 words of your own by visiting this site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typography - delve in and follow various links to build a body of content. Use completed text. Don't just cut it off at 700!

InDesign auto page numbering

InDesign hanging puncuation

http://www.thinkingwithtype.com/contents/grid/#Golden_Section (grid design stuff including baseline grids)


Font choice love affair spread(s) that demonstrates the range of the typeface applied to headlines and text in a variety of sizes. Each variation of the typeface should be labeled on the page. (name, point size, leading, kind, style) Display with a precision layout (do a broadsheet as an option) that uses a grid. Include special characters, small caps, sub and superscripts, glyphs, ornaments, quotation marks, drop caps, ligatures, use of spacing (leading, tracking, kerning), indents, hanging punctuation, baseline shifts, tables, dot leaders, etc. Consider employing techniques and treatments from magazine cover work and other class assignments. Be sure to choose examples that display the entire alpahbet, a-z, in your output, as well as a special characters from the glyphs panel.

Select a typeface for your project that has a substantial number of variations, such as Univers, Helvetica, Caslon, Baskerville, Garamond, Futura, or Bodoni. Any pro font with a large family of weights would be a good choice. Be wildly flamboyant or classically conservative in your approach. You may lay it out as a 2-page spread or a separate broadsheet that you then include in the book.


toilet type.tif
yaris key tag.tif

Samples of typography, 'found letters' if you will; bits of type and text ephemera, both printed and electronic, that you gather as examples of inspiration and sources of emulation. You may sketch, photograph, cut items from magazines, find scraps of paper on the street, or cut out bits of packaging. All designs are derivative of something that came before; every great new design is a fresh combination. This project will help you to look at type in an historical perspective, as type has evolved over time, designed to fulfill varying commercial concerns and influenced by changing cultural eras. (i.e. Garamond)

Prospect from 'tearsheets,' junk mail, advertisements, photographs, packaging and industrial design, signage and archetecture, old books and manuals, even manuscripts. There are lots of resources besides the World Wide Web, but of course take screen shots and download images from the Interenet; shoot photos with your digital camera and use a scanner to digitize pertinent examples. (i.e. Gotham, the font of Barack Obama's presidential campaign which has become the defacto font of the Democratic National Party was based on letter forms found on a NYC bus terminal sign.) I tend to collect things that are pre-digital, type that was set by hand and pasted up! Develop a library that you can reference and mine for good material not only for this class but for the extent of your design career.

Find examples that demonstrate a large variety of output: offset and digital examples of type found on documents and signage, food and product packaging, hand painted with a brush, stenciled, form molded as metal or rubber (convex), embossed in paper, ceramic, or branded into wood (concave). Find variety in both the surfaces or substrates the type is printed or painted upon, but also in the varying forms of the type itself, the way it changes in regard to the process of rendering it to a given substrate. Look for samples of type applied with heat and pressure, painted by hand, pushed into leather, tatooed on skin, silkscreened onto fabrics, molded into plastic, wood, foam, or even arrayed in light (LED, LCD). Find bitmapped fonts printed on cardboard boxes, cash register receipts, product and prescription expiration dates, concert tickets, etc.

[You may develop as pure digital, hand constructed, or a synthesis of both. Ultimately, though, for your work to be seen and shared, even your hand constructed specimen samples needs to be photographed/scanned and designed as book spread(s)! However, nothing beats the tangibility of the real thing! You might construct your "original" by hand and keep it as a reference point from which to work.]

Include some photographed or scanned in examples of type crimes you have gathered throughout the semester. Add commentary as to why it's a crime. The textbook contains other examples. Don't rule out plain old misspellings and gramatical errors.