This course is also part of the program:

Would you like to enroll?

Enrollment for this course has closed. But you can enroll in a future offering (please select)

Enrollment has closed

Enrollment for this course is currently closed, but the next offering will be available shortly. Check back soon!

4 Sessions
Audit (Free)
Certificate (Incl. w/ Premium)
Program ($900 USD)
School of Visual Arts
Visual Arts, Design, History and Culture
Skill Level
Video Transcripts
History, Typography, Typesetting, Art Deco
Course Description

The Practical History of Typography serves as an introduction to The Complete Typographer, and provides a historical appreciation of the art and science of typography: display lettering (both hand drawn and mechanically generated), and text typefaces—a “historical bucket” approach. The course examines typefaces associated with key design and technological developments of the 20th century—the Bauhaus, the New Typography, etc.—with an eye towards critical analysis of form, moving right up to 2017, including advances in generative type and variable fonts for web.


This course is in scheduled mode and is open for enrollment. Learn more about scheduled courses here.

Session 1: Eclecticism and Expressionism
In this first session, we'll survey several centuries of eclectic and expressive type and hopefully pique your interest for what's to come in subsequent sessions. These dazzling examples will demonstrate the cultural range of typography, the range of styles and movements, and how type not only reflects our visual culture but shapes and directs it as well. We'll also speak with Gail Anderson about her adventures in type as creative director of Rolling Stone magazine.
Session 2: History and Origins
In this session, we’ll trace the Latin alphabet’s evolution from handwriting to metal type to digital formats by looking at the historical conditions in which the type was created. We’ll walk through the historical typeface classifications and discuss each one with plenty of gorgeous examples. Finally, we’ll speak with designer and calligrapher Ina Saltz about calligraphy’s influence on typeface development and the important of calligraphy and hand lettering today.
Session 3: Principles and Basics of Typography
In this session, Principles and Basics, we’ll get down to the nuts and bolts of typographic anatomy: the names of parts of letterforms, typesetting terms, and why typographic hierarchy is so critical in design. We’ll discuss how Positive/Negative space works, the emotive vs. literal qualities of letterforms, and the way type is joined at the hip to technology. And finally, we’ll explore the importance of type in all other design disciplines, and creative director Debra Bishop will pop in to demonstrate some general rules for using type in your work.
Session 4: New Directions in Type
In this session, New Directions in Typography, we will pick up typographic history where we left off around the 1980’s in our first session, continuing forward with an exploration of typography in the 21st century. We'll also speak with Dan Rhatigan about exciting developments currently unfolding around type.
Learning Outcomes

Below you will find an overview of the Learning Outcomes you will achieve as you complete this course.

Whenever you complete a course as a premium member, you can earn a verified Certificate of Accomplishment .

This course is also part of the Program: The Complete Typographer. Earn a verified Specialist Certificate for successfully completing a Program.

These certificates are proof that you completed an online course on our platform and can easily be shared with its unique link.

Credit Elligible Program
This course is one of 5 courses in the The Complete Typographer Program and is offered for credits from School of Visual Arts.

Earn a verified Specialist Certificate after successfully completing a Program. And whenever you complete a course as a Premium member, you earn a verified Certificate of Accomplishment . These certificates are proof that you completed an online course on our platform and can easily be shared with its unique link.

Instructors & Guests
What You Need to Take This Course
  • Software:
    • Adobe Creative Suite
    • It is not required, but we recommend a free or paid subscription to the Adobe TypeKit typeface library
Additional Information

Please note: Taking part in a Kadenze course as a Premium Member does not affirm that the learner has been enrolled or accepted for enrollment by School of Visual Arts.

If a student signs up for the Complete Typographer program, it is recommended that these courses are taken sequentially.

Peer Assessment Code of Conduct: Part of what makes Kadenze a great place to learn is our community of learners. While you are completing your Peer Assessments, we ask that you help us maintain the quality of our community. Please:

  • Be Polite. Show your fellow learners courtesy. No one wants to feel attacked - ever. For this reason, insults, condescension, or abuse will not be tolerated.
  • Show Respect. Kadenze is a global community. Our learners are from many different cultures and backgrounds. Please be patient, kind, and open-minded when discussing topics such as race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or other potentially controversial subjects.
  • Post Appropriate Content. We believe that expression is a human right and we would never censor our learners. With that in mind, please be sensitive of what you post in a Peer Assessment. Only post content where and when it is appropriate to do so.

Please understand that posts which violate this Code of Conduct harm our community and may be deleted or made invisible to other learners by course moderators. Learners who repeatedly break these rules may be removed from the course and/or may lose access to Kadenze.

Learners with Disabilities: Learners who have documented disabilities and who want to request accommodations should refer to the help article via the Kadenze support center. Kadenze is committed to making sure that our site is accessible to everyone. Configure your accessibility settings in your Kadenze Account Settings.