Category: events

MA Communication Design Open Morning: Thursday 25 January 2024

Interested in MA Communication Design? Join us at our Open Mornings and discover our 4 study pathways. Visit the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, chat with lecturers and current students, and get advice about how to apply.

Dates: Thursday 25 January 2024

Time: 11:00 am to 1:30 pm (UK time)

Where: Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, Whiteknights Campus, University of Reading


After a welcome from Dr Ruth Blacksell, Department Director of Postgraduate Taught Studies, a presentation about MA Communication Design will focus on our 4 study pathways: Book Design, Information Design, Graphic Design, and Typeface Design. This will be followed by a walk around the Department and a look at our studios, special collections, and printing workshop, ending with a tour of the current Department exhibition.

Contact email:

Register here to attend

Before that, discover more about our Master’s programmes and see our students’ work

Testing beyond Covid: Our point of use instructions at IIID Vision Plus 2023

At the 2023 IIID Vision Plus conference, Josefina gave a presentation about her, Sue Walker, and Al Edwards’s work on the project ‘Information Design for Diagnostics: Ensuring Confidence and Accuracy for Home Sampling and Home Testing’, which looked at the design and usability of instructions for point of use Covid-19 lateral flow rapid tests.

The talk focused on Josefina and Sue’s experience of applying the research findings and the design approach to a set of documents explaining how to use a test for viral flu. The team developed a toolkit to support the creation of point-of-use instructions, taking account of views from diagnostic industry members to inform an understanding of how instructions are produced currently and what guidance might be helpful.

A person presenting at a conference with a presentation slide behind them

Plus, the IIID award ceremony closed the conference, and Josefina won an award in the Healthcare category for her work with CwPAMS on their Antimicrobial Stewardship Toolkit. Congratulations to Josefina!

Design that cares? – IIID Vision Plus Conference 2023

Healthcare was the theme for the 2023 IIID Vision Plus Conference, held in the Design Forum in Vienna. Rachel and Josefina gave a joint talk about their ongoing work looking at documents from the Forms Information Centre Collection held at the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication. The documents were produced by the British government in the 1970s–80s to guide citizens in navigating public services. These services included claiming benefits, accessing healthcare, supporting disabilities, and help for those with caring responsibilities.

Presenting at the conference was a good opportunity to share examples of healthcare-related documents that are held in this unique collection. They shared a brief timeline of what was happening during the time that these documents were being produced. They then shared examples of document design that were of particular interest during their initial work. These include how symbols, pictograms, and illustrations were used to communicate healthcare topics, and how colour and layout helped people understand their options and take steps to access public services.

Two people presenting at a lectern with presentation slide behind

MA Communication Design: Open Morning 2023

Interested in the MA Communication Design? Join us at our Open Morning and discover our 4 pathways. Visit the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, chat with lecturers and current students, and get advice about how to apply.

Date: Tuesday 25 April 2023, 11am to 1:30pm (BST)

Where: Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, Whiteknights Campus, University of Reading

After a welcome from Dr Ruth Blacksell, Department Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes, a presentation about the MA Communication Design will focus on our 4 pathway routes: Book Design, Information Design, Graphic Design, Typeface Design. This will be followed by a walk around the Department and a look into the studios. In a Show and Tell session, you will get a glimpse of our special collections. We will close the morning with a tour around our current Department exhibition.

Interested in attending? Register here

Marie Boulanger: My life through letters

In the final week of Autumn term, we were joined by Monotype’s Marie Boulanger. In this session, Marie described her experiences in type design and how her life has helped to inspire her personal journey through designing typefaces.










Typeface design, exploring lettering and their purpose was always Marie’s passion

Type & expression

Working for Monotype, Marie’s role as an Art director for campaigns and making a narrative story for audiences was her dream career path. She explained how her love for type design stemmed from her childhood. Being born in Paris, from a young age she was exposed to expressive French lettering and signage. Marie pursued her interests by designing custom lettering for branding while freelancing, and taking part in the 36 days of type challenge, which encourages designers around the world to make a glyph once a day.

Marie felt that designing type was very personal and fulfilling for her, describing how type should be seen as a material and our hands are a tool to express ourselves. This helped to encourage students to find enjoyment in exploring many forms of design that are of interest to them, while being willing to be open to alternative opportunities, especially related to a career in design.

‘Type is a material, and the tools used are our hands’ – Marie Boulanger










The imagery and layout of stamps was always a great interest to Marie, they were one of her original inspirations towards design

‘Get involved in projects that help heal and feel good’ – Marie Boulanger


Marie’s insight into the creation of typefaces and her experience shows us that the journey to becoming a successful designer is through a student’s desire to observe our environment and strive towards designing to make ourselves satisfied. 

‘Very personal talk, which made it very inspiring, my favourite baseline shift so far’ – part 2 student

‘Honestly so many words come to mind, inspiring, encouraging, exciting. The baseline shift sessions always make me feel so inspired to go and make something cool and creative but this one in particular I loved’ – part 2 student

Alumni talks: The beauty of letters and digital design

In week 10 of Autumn term, we were joined by three alumni of the Department: Font engineer Norbert Krausz; Sky Creative Designer, Aanand Tank; and Director at ArabicType, Nadine Chahine. In this session, we were delighted to hear about our alumni’s lives after graduation and what our students can expect later in their careers.

Engineering fonts

Norbert expressed his love for the beauty of letters and their shape and how they drew him into his profession of engineering fonts. It was fascinating hearing about Norbert’s view of the huge variety of script that mankind invented and how it has been evolved through time. He described working in this specialised field as ‘narrow but deep, working with type means you are purely working on the shape of our language’, creating sets of glyphs was rewarding for him and he felt that it was no different to problem solving and finding solutions. Whilst working for Monotype, it helped Norbert discover many technical components behind type design; he described his work as very rewarding towards the development of the human language.

‘Font engineering as a field is narrow but deep. Working with type means you are purely working on the shape of our language’ – Norbert Krausz

Sky Creative

Aanand, became a Digital Designer for Sky. His UX and UI work in Reading and in Germany helped him understand alternative audiences and consider all users. Designing showcases for Sky Cinema, one of Aanand’s roles is to help ‘push out specific shows and movies’ based on genres. His work revolves around layouts on different platforms, like on mobile devices and televisions. Emphasising networking, Aanand encouraged students to explore their options for a future career and to start connecting with designers in the industry, strongly advising us to use Linkedin. Students found listening to a younger designer who recently graduated from Reading to be inspiring, as it showed students what they could achieve in the oncoming years.

Designing showcases for Sky involves tailoring to the specific genre of film or TV series

‘Network and you’ll go far’ – Aanand Tank

ArabicType Ltd.

Nadine described the politics of Arabic type and how there have not been many variations for the Arabic language. Her passion for type design was similar to Norbert’s, where she wanted to help visualise communication in different languages. Neue Helvetica Arabic is one of many typefaces designed by Nadine. It enables the setting of pan-European languages, in addition to Arabic, Armenian, Cyrillic, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Thai and Vietnamese. This typeface has been used in various media, most notably in airports in the middle-east to aid the population by having higher legibility for navigation.


Neue Helvetica typeface

‘Design can preserve memories’ – Nadine Chahine


To conclude, having the privilege to hear from our alumni about their careers helped to inspire students and provide insight into what they could achieve.

‘The wide variety of speakers in today’s session was really valuable. Hearing from graduates about their careers immediately after university showed me a huge amount of options and avenues to look into.’ – part 2 student

‘Hearing from an array of alumni was really interesting to hear about their lives after university and what I may experience after graduating.’ – part 2 student




Feedback jam: Real jobs and typeface design

In week 9 of Autumn term, a Feedback jam was held to help students gain additional feedback from tutors on their current projects. Gaining feedback from tutors aids students in directing them towards the next steps of developing their designs. In this post, we’ll focus on two of the unique projects that students brought for review.

Carter’s Steam Fair Real Job

When it comes to Real Jobs, focusing on the audience that we are designing for is key. A part 2 student wanted feedback on their re-designing of a logo for a competition brief set by Joby Carter, who is a highly skilled sign-painter and typographer, and owner of Carter’s steam fair. The brief involved creating a fairground-style logo for a stereotypically conservative brand. This student wanted feedback to guide them towards finalising their logo to create a fairground font for Legal & General.

Rob Banham and Sara Chapman gave pointers on areas to improve; such as considering making the logo more bespoke by adding more variation to each letterform, creating more excitement and fun, while also implying work done by hand – like at a fairground.









Part 2 student’s Real job Legal and General logo redesign

Typeface development

We run an optional Typeforms module in Part 3 of our course, where students create their own typeface. One student during the session asked for feedback on their current iteration. This student took a character in Helvetica and drew points using a grid system. Several versions of this typeface were made using a 6×6 grid system to ensure consistency for their letterforms. Using a pathfinding algorithm, the student connected each point to make an outline of each letter, with this the letters were re-drawn over the connected dots to increase legibility and produce the body.

Claudia Rifaterra proposed that the student could overlay a dotted version over a standard Helvetica character to form a new character. Revising past concepts and combinations of designs teaches students that recognising the significance of making multiple versions of work is important to look back on when making future design decisions.





The dotted version that aided in creating the body of each character

Tracing over the connected dots and lines made in Python, each character was drawn using the dots as guides.


As students we should always consider what needs to be improved with our work and gaining feedback from tutors and other students is always helpful in enhancing our current projects.

‘The personal feedback was incredibly valuable and useful for my Real Job. The opportunity to get additional help for my work by outside designers gives amazing extra support from experienced designers and professionals.’ – Part 2 student

‘It’s always very helpful getting feedback from tutors’ – Part 2 student

Rob Waller: Information, and why it’s designed


In week 4 of Autumn term, we were joined by the President of The International Institute for Information Design, Rob Waller. In this session, Rob supplied students with an insight into the theory of information design and research into documentation legibility.

Anatomy of Information

‘Roughly half the population struggles with reading document literacy’ and information published by sources (like the government), was a focal point of Rob’s lecture. Emphasising the importance of aiding the population with legibility, typography, and layout as a quality of written language playing a key role in people’s understanding of writing. Students learnt that multidisciplinary research of cognitive and educational psychologists, technologists, reading researchers and designers contribute to the comprehension of information and how it is structured to help the public.

‘You have to integrate what you say with why you’re saying it’ – Rob Waller

Rob explained his fascination with page layout and how structuring content is fundamental to readability, saying that designers such as Ken Garland who experimented with type and layout influenced him greatly. Furthermore, Rob talked about how his career has combined academic research from the University of Reading and the Open University with his own commercial agency – the Information Design Unit – and then with Enterprise IG. Working with numerous brands including Barclays, Vodafone, BT, T-Mobile and many more, students were given insight into the importance of research and theory in information design, and how it correlates with helping the population understand complex documents.

‘Ken Garland was a massive inspiration for me’ – Rob Waller

Design work by Ken Garland such as this cover for Railways: A Special Issue, was a great inspiration for Rob as a young designer. 



Hearing Rob’s passion for information design and allowing documents to be understood by all was inspiring. Emphasising the importance of document legibility, using elements of typography and layout, was relevant for students in understanding what they could use in their upcoming projects. Rob’s work is underpinned by a desire to use research to help people read – and actually understand – some of life’s more demanding texts.

‘Very interesting insight into a huge industry, would never have considered this as a significant industry for design.’ – Matt Perks

‘Listening to the content of an experienced typographer is very informative and interesting for me, as he showed the business side of typography, which will be very beneficial for me after I graduate from the university.’ – Part  1 student

David Pearson: Book design as a language

In week 8 of Autumn term, we were joined by Penguin book cover designer David Pearson. In this session, David exhibited a wide range of exciting book covers, along with many tips for students in brainstorming ideas for designing book covers.

Designing a cover

David emphasised how typography and book covers should be experimented with, and that rejected concepts can often lead to more successful ideas in future. Furthermore, researching past designs can generate inspiration to produce more radical concepts, enriching our options for how we create different moods that suggest the content of books. David’s book cover for George Orwell’s 1984 is a perfect example of this, as he researched previous classic Penguin designs and noticed redacted words. His cover personifies ‘less is more’ with the title being hidden, which summarises the theme of secrecy in the book and gives readers intrigue into the contents.

‘Find a job or goal that works with the way you work’ – David Pearson

David Pearson’s 1984 cover design, which shows the redacted information of the title and the author


‘You should always question your work; you need to constantly feel like your work could be improved’ – David Pearson

David’s lecture was particularly useful for first years, who are just getting into typography, as well as for Masters students, who gained knowledge from David’s years of experience. He encouraged students to follow design trends as well as understand design history, so that readers can recognise the book’s genre, as well as visually digest the content. David also emphasised the importance of working with a diverse group of people, as it introduces different insights and opportunities to experiment with styles, which an individual designer may not have considered exploring. Collaboration is a vital professional skill, as a designer will always be working with other people.








David sharing his thoughts on the Dracula book cover evolution and the personality that can be bought into designs. As well as addressing his personal preference for the older traditional Penguin covers due to their consistent (but subtley evolving) colours and layout.


David’s talk showed students the potential of developing and displaying characteristics in book cover designs for audiences to digest and construct people’s view of the content included.

‘Very good speaker, very engaging, really inspiring and made me think, the images were captivating and the way he thinks outside the box was totally genius’ – Amy North

‘An interesting and engaging presentation, the designs shown were very inspiring.’ – Part 2 student

Nick Sexton: UX and a user’s journey

Profile photo of Nick Sexton

In week 7 of Autumn term, we were joined by Nick Sexton, a Reading graduate whose design career includes working as a freelancer, digital designer at Dyson, and an experience design lead at Jaguar Land Rover. In this session, Nick gave his interpretation of user experience design (UX) and how considering the needs of users is important in the design industry.

Jaguar Land Rover and Dyson

Nick loved recreating websites and designing simplistic movie posters while studying at Reading, as well as ‘starting that old-age dream of being a freelancer’, which he began in order to gain experience in designing for clients. Nick’s talk explained his progress from graduate, to freelancer, to ‘grad scheme’ intern and finally to the senior roles he now occupies. His focus on working in-house, rather than agency-side gave us an insight into how design processes work within two brands with very specific design identities within their industries.

Nick’s experience with UX design for Dyson and JLR is a great example of what companies need to consider when engineering products for their users

‘In the world of work, everything’s collaborative’ – Nick Sexton

The importance of experience

Nick emphasised that in order to succeed in designing for users one must discover, define, develop and deliver; which involves looking at the start-to-finish journey along with the experience. Looking at these details erases problems before someone buys a product, increasing satisfaction. When it comes to designing for screens or pieces of machinery, Nick learned a lot directly from James Dyson: ‘Aesthetics are important, but if it doesn’t work it’s fundamentally not very good’. Focusing on the functionality and purpose is of a higher importance than of appearance, as those who would use a product would simply want to achieve their goal without frustration.

The purpose of ux design is to ensure the journey of users has no problems and achieves what is desired

‘If something is ugly people will get over it. If it doesn’t work, that’s where frustration comes in’ – Nick Sexton


The importance of UX design and the journey that users take to achieve their goal with a product was a driving message behind Nick’s presentation. Students who have projects involving UX found the session especially helpful in understanding what needs to be considered when producing work that would be used by an audience.

‘I thought this was one of the most interesting Baseline shifts I’ve ever been to, I especially liked how it linked to the UX project us part 2s are working on at the moment.’ – Part 2 student

‘Very interesting insight into a huge industry, would never have considered this [the motor industry]as a significant industry for graphic design.’ – Matt Perks