Developing a practice-led framework to promote the practise and understanding of typography across different media

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This study presents a pedagogic framework that offers a new approach, structure and content for the teaching, understanding and application of typography in cross-media communication environments. Current theory and vocabulary used to describe typographic practice and scholarship are based on a historically print-derived framework. As yet, no new paradigm has emerged to address the divergent path that screen-based typography has taken from its traditional print medium. This study argues that the current model of typographic education is unable to provide design students with appropriate models, concepts and grammar to explore the potential of typography in screen-based media. Hence, a re-evaluation of the current framework is proposed in order to develop new approaches that will reduce misappropriation of typographic principles and aesthetic values in screen-based media. This study is composed of three research stages. Stage One (consisting of a literature and design application review) was used to develop an understanding of the current typographic application in screen-based media. Stage Two (consisting of a questionnaire survey and in-depth interviews) was used to investigate the relevance of current typographic knowledge in relation to screen- based media. Additionally, this stage helped identify critical issues surrounding current and future typographic practice. Findings from Stages One and Two were used as a basis to develop a new framework. This framework was subsequently tested and refined in Stage Three through action research projects (with Graphic and New Media design students) and peer reviews (with design educators and professional practitioners). The final framework consists of six key attributes: an integrated model of knowledge, cross-media skills, cross-disciplinary influences, it is communication-focused, flexible and adaptable. It reflects a future model of a convergent media, not a continued separation of print and screen. This framework consists of two distinct areas of knowledge: Global Skills (Form, Content, Expression and Context) and Specialist Skills (Hyper-textuality, Interactivity, Temporality and Usability). It is concluded that the approach and knowledge-base used to teach typography must be modified to reflect the challenges posed by media convergence, where transferable global skills are emphasised across a range of media. Typography's knowledge base has to be expanded to include specialist skills derived from technological and social changes in communication technologies. The principal contributions of the study are: the identification of transferable global typographic skills; the introduction of specialist design skills required for effective cross-media type application; presentation of an integrated model of typographic knowledge and practice; a curriculum guide aimed at helping design educators plan and deliver typography in graphic and multimedia programmes; strategies and approaches to help designers remediate their print- derived knowledge and lastly, as a subject reference guide for visual communication design students. The framework is not offered as an absolute representation of western-based typographic knowledge for cross-media application but instead should be considered as a signpost to help understand the current transition of knowledge between print and screen. Additionally, this framework has been developed and tested within a single educational environment. As a result, variations in teaching and learning styles were not taken into account. Audiences are urged to treat the framework as a 'work-in-progress' model that can be refined through additional field- testing in other educational environments. And finally, the application of the framework within a professional practice environment would require a comprehensive review of practice-based concerns and a further simplification of the framework.
Original languageEnglish
  • Young, Robert A., Supervisor, External person
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 5 Oct 2006


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