Thesis topic


I am a Graphic Design student and I am making my 3rd attempt to write a thesis. By writing here, I consider myself desperate, because I cannot find a topic for my thesis. The only thing I clarified for myself is that I am interested in typography and calligraphy. And writing a thesis on these topics could help me to use what I've learned in my future projects.
Although I am reading everywhere in attempt to find something which would excite me, I am at a dead end.
So I am asking for your help.

I have in mind some questions, but I am wondering if they could evolve into a thesis argument:

1. Which are the limits of calligraphy?
2. What's the connection between typography/calligraphy and music?
3. Serif fonts are suitable for books (long reading), sans serif - for numbers. Excluding the aesthetic factor,
what's the purpose of semi serif fonts?

I need some hints so I could move on in developing a thesis argument.

Thank you!

Karl Stange's picture

2. What's the connection between typography/calligraphy and music?

Depending on how technical you are willing/able to be, you could consider something along the lines of the relationship between typography and musical notation, with a particular focus on the current technical and aesthetic limitations in producing musical notation digitally, as discussed in this thread:

Tatiana Marza's picture

Thank you, Karl.

I studied piano when I was little, but it never occurred to me that there is a special typography department for music. Giovanni Murolo made quite a great job in designing typefaces for notes. I am not so advanced in typography. Actually, I am just entering its world. My thesis should include research written in 10.000 words. The practical part will be introduced next year.

When I asked about the connection of typography and music I was thinking of the words of R. Bringhurst from "The Elements of Typographic Style" where he relates quite often typography with music:
"Like music, it (typography) can be used to manipulate behavior and emotions.", or " [...] the practice of typography is like playing the piano - an instrument quite different from the human voice."

It occurred to me that indeed typography may influence our behavior and choices, for example, during political campaigns. I was wondering: based on which factors politicians are choosing their campaign font? Is it related to their political beliefs? Specific fonts are used from right wings and other fonts from left wings? etc. And how these fonts are affecting people's voting...

Karl Stange's picture

It occurred to me that indeed typography may influences our behavior and choices for example during political campaigns.

The clearest example that comes to mind, that of Obama and Gotham has always struck me (in the limited extent to which I have given it any thought) as parasitic, rather than inherently or obviously complimentary. I think Gotham could just as easily have lent itself to any party and any campaign, given the right typographic perspective. Others will no doubt disagree and as other threads here will demonstrate have given it considerably more thought. That said, the nature of typography as used in political campaigns probably merits some study and could generate some worthwhile insights into both the nature of political branding and the contrast between the intent of the designer (where any exists) and the use of that type in the wider world.

If this is something that you choose to pursue you will no doubt get some perspective or insight on using content from Typophile as source material from [Bad link], the forum's eminent Typographic Cognitive Psychologist.

Tatiana Marza's picture

Hello, Karl!

Since you are the only one interested in my subject (in some way), this is what I was thinking reading the "typophile" blog.
There is a lack of Greek fonts in Greece today. Those who are designing them in most cases are foreigners and not Greeks.
How anyone begins to design a Greek font? Based on which criteria? Which are the needs of Greek graphic designers today? Should it be based on Latin alphabet (which is a worldwide debate between typographers) or purely on Greek one?

P.S. my adviser told me that since I am not going to specialize in politics, maybe it's not worthy to lose my time on such a research. He has a point...

Karl Stange's picture

If you are seriously considering looking at Greek fonts and typography I cannot recommend highly enough reaching out to Gerry Leonidas. He is not only an expert in this area but on type in general and also head of the Typography Department at the University of Reading.

There is a great deal of expertise amongst the contributors on this site and most would be willing to give you pointers (myself included) where it seems constructive and relevant. However, if you specify the topic and start any new threads I would suggest being very clear about what you are doing and at what level.

hrant's picture

I just saw this thanks to your other thread...

This is probably too little, too late, but some thoughts and ideas:
- Gerry Leonidas is in fact somebody you should definitely contact.
- For a very different perspective also contact Panos Vassiliou.
- For the musical angle there's one name that stands high above the rest: Frank Blokland.
- Typophile is the best place to find discussions (especially involving yours truly :-) concerning calligraphy's severe limitations with respect to type. To me calligraphy fails to promote -and in fact essentially opposes- functional or cultural progress in type design.


Andreas Stötzner's picture

> For the musical angle there's one name that stands high above the rest: Frank Blokland.

Hrant, I seem to have missed something …
Please give a hint.

Karl Stange's picture

I think he might be referring to Blokland's PhD study on, Harmonics, Patterns, and Dynamics in Formal Typographic Representations of the Latin Script in which, [Bad link], " harmonic systems in type and music play a central role".

hrant's picture

Indeed - thanks, Karl.


Andreas Stötzner's picture

sounds interesting indeed.

Chris Dean's picture

@Tatiana Marza: Be certain to properly cite Typophile in the references section of your paper. A failure to do so would constitute academic plagiarism. APA 6.0 format:

Dean, C. (2013, March 29). Re: Questionnaire about the needs of Greek typography end-users [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from

You will need to do this for every comment you reference.

Is this undergraduate or graduate research?

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