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Be Creative! Projects : Word Type Typography Design Exercise

Reinforcing Type Design with Non-Verbal Meaning

By Chris Dunmire

Jumble fun non-verbal bouncy meaning.Have you ever seen a word on some printed or electronic media designed in such a way that it looked like the message it conveyed? If so, then you experienced its nonverbal meaning.

This technique is often used in advertising, as a graphic designer reinforces a message through the choice of typeface, arrangement of letters, and coloring effect. In the two examples shown below in the Try It! section, you can easily see how much more impact the words Jumble and Elegant have with their unique design style and coloring than if they were displayed in a plain, unimaginative way.

Project Materials Needed:

Tidy Way:

  • Computer, art/design/layout software, fonts, and printer if you want to create and print electronically

Or Hands-On:

  • Printed or drawn type from your computer, newspapers, or magazines
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Paper, card stock, or illustration board
  • Markers, crayons, paint, or colored pencils, if you want to use color in your design

Jumble fun non-verbal bouncy meaning.

Try It!

  1. Choose a word you want to design with a reinforcing nonverbal meaning.

  2. Experiment with different typefaces, arrangement of letters, and color (or absence of).

  3. Once you find the arrangement you like, glue your composition down on illustration board or firm paper.

Creativity Tips: Action and descriptive words (verbs and adjectives) work well for this activity. Get as creative as you want by using found objects or materials to add to the color and texture of your word. For example, tin foil for metal, or string for hair.

What You'll Learn:

This project will help you to think about the message and meaning of words used in advertising or other ways to get attention, gain interest, create desire, and motivate to action (AIDA).

An elegant elegant.

A clunky elegant.

The NEXT Creative Step...

If you enjoy this activity, try doing several variations of your word, or giving your word an opposite nonverbal meaning. For example, see how my "Elegant" above is displayed first in an elegant, script typeface, and then contrasted with a font more ugly and clunky (thus a non-elegant way).

If you liked this project and want to learn more about fonts and typography, see Creativity Portal's graphic design and typography section. •

© Chris Dunmire 2004, 2007. All rights reserved.

Chris Dunmire (@funmire) is a deeply engaged creative spirit, imaginary being, lover of wit, words, wisdom, and the driving force behind the original award-winning Creativity Portal™ Web site launched in 2000.

Updated 12/20/13