Tuesday, March 26, 2013


I'm on a committee that involves reading lots of course materials from across campus, so I see lots of what people are handing out.  Last night, I was preparing for the meeting, doing my pre-reading, and one of the sets of materials (a syllabus and calendar) used at least two different fonts (a serif and a sans serif, though maybe more, because I find it difficult to tell some sans serif fonts apart when they change sizes), at least three sizes of each of those, plus bold, underline, italics, and ALL CAPS!  (And SOME BOLD ALL CAPS!)

You know those mocking websites that used to be (still are?) around, making fun of the bad web site design with lots of moving stuff, bad color choices, and bad font choices?  It felt like I was looking at a mocking of bad syllabus design.  There were so many changes designed to get attention that it felt frantic and unorganized, though on closer inspection, there were obvious signs of organization and planning.

I'm way too lazy to do font changes or size changes, though I admit to using boldface on occasion (for headings, mostly), and to italicizing book and journal titles.

We've gotten way more legalistic in our syllabus language around here.  When I first started teaching, I used to hand out a one page, double sided syllabus and calendar (admittedly, I was on a 10 week term system).  Now, I take up two pages double sided, and sometimes three.  And I'm not the wordiest.  (I have a colleague whose course materials read like a Dickens novel.)

(But honestly, if I could find an early modern Roman type face, say a beautiful Garamond, I would totally use that in my course materials!)

1 comment:

  1. OMG. One of the (very few) significant threats to the stability of my marriage is that my husband loves to combine bold and underline in his syllabus design and other course handouts. Then he asks me to look them over, wanting feedback on the content, and I can't even make sense of the content because I'm all cross-eyed and reeling from the bad design.