30 Delightful Graphic Design Books

Resources December 10, 2007

Outlined by Gino Orlandi, Written by Jessica Stockdale

I have probed the web for the most highly recommended and best-selling graphic design related books that can inspire and help you as a graphic designer. These books cover many areas of design, including typography, color theory, layout, design theory, web design, business and even search engine optimization and marketing for designers.

These delightful graphic design books will make a great addition to any graphic designer’s library!

1. Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines
This is a book you should not do without. It touches on every topic you need to know about how to be successful as a graphic artist. If you want experienced and practical advice on anything from setting prices for your work on the Internet to how to best manage your client relations – this is the book for you.

2. Sagmeister: Made You Look
Daring designer, Stefan Sagmeister, chronicles almost 40 years of working in this business in this book. Sagmeister conveys his wit and humor into these pages, as he tells you his personal adventures.

3. Make It Bigger
This book caters to designers who work with businesses. Read this to be inspired and benefit from the wisdom of years of experience working in the field of graphic design.

4. About Face: Reviving The Rules Of Typography
Talking about the large topic of typography, About Face, helps you navigate through the world with ease. Many wonderful and successful examples of typography are provided in this book.

5. Typographic Design: Form and Communication
This is the fourth edition of a best-selling book. If you want just one book to help you learn about how to properly typography, it’s this one. Whether you’re interested in the history of this art, or how it can be effectively used in this modern-era, this book is chock full of valuable information for graphic designers.

6. The Elements of Typographic Style
Author, Robert Bringhurst, has written this book, which uses beautiful language to tell the story of how to apply your own artistic sensibility to typography. One treat in this book is the examples of fonts in different languages such as Russian and Greek.

7. The Elements of Graphic Design: Space, Unity, Page Architecture, and Type
This book’s author, Alexander W. White, is a strong advocate of white space – what you can also call negative space. Many designers feel the need to clutter things up, but less can be more. Learn how to master that idea with this great book.

8. Making and Breaking the Grid: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop
This book focuses on layout. With it, you can comprehensively learn the elements of layout so that you can better use them in your work.

9. Designing with Type: The Essential Guide to Typography (Designing With Type)
A book that’s been around since 1971, this is something that will introduce you to typography. It offers pointers on how to take into account such things as the feeling of a text, as well as how effectively it is conveyed in different formats.

10. Meggs’ History of Graphic Design
This offers a wonderful writing up of the history of graphic design. It may be of interest to both current graphic designers, and general artistic-minded people.

11. Graphic Design: A New History
Own this book and learn about graphic design history in a new light. The book talks in-depth of the different times of history in correlation to what graphic design’s were used.

12. Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students (Design Briefs)
Author Ellen Lupton has written this wonderful book. The book has three main sections: letter, text, and grid. Learn the history of each, how technology can help you, and then see examples in practice.

13. The Designer’s Toolkit: 500 Grids and Style Sheets: 500 Grids and Style Sheets
As you may have already guessed, this book challenges designers to re-think their idea of how to work within a grid. There are 500 grid and style sheets ready for you to produce your work on and see what you like.

14. Looking Closer 5: Critical Writings on Graphic Design
This is the fifth and final installment in a series of wonderful books. Within these pages you will find writing on controversial topics that will encourage you to think outside of the page, or the screen.

15. How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer
Learn what you have in common with other graphic designers who have achieved success. What has helped them overcome obstacles may very well help you as well. This book is full of interviews you will find invaluable.
16. Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design
The title of the book tells you what you’re getting, right off the bat. Michael Bierut writes with whimsy and a critical eye in this book that you are sure to enjoy and be educated from.
17. How To Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul
The work of a graphic designer is not easy, and you probably already know that. Within these160 pages you will discover writing on topics such as how to generate ideas when your mind is void of them. You don’t want to become a slave to mundane tasks and lose your spark, if you feel yourself drifting – reach for this book.

18. LogoLounge 3: 2,000 International Identities by Leading Designers (LogoLounge)
If you’re crazy for logos then this is the book for you. In this third installment, you will find a myriad of different logos – 2,000 to be exact. Get inspired with this book, and then get designing.

19. Logo Design (Midi Series)
This is a handy reference book on logo design. Students and professionals alike will enjoy this book.

20. Hand Job: A Catalog of Type
Fifty typographers are featured in this book, and what they all have in common is that they reject technology, and design their fonts by hand. While the title at first can seem shocking to anyone, it will stay shocking to a designer. When’s the last time you reached for a pen and paper for your final draft? Maybe next time you will, after reading this book.

21. Universal Principles of Design: 100 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach Through Design
Well-written, this book is what it claims to be – 100 ways to enhance, influence, increase, teach – you get the idea. It is easy to understand and follow, and gives you well-researched briefs on a variety of topics that normally you’d have to read about in several different books.

22. Adobe Photoshop CS3 Classroom in a Book
Experts that make up the Adobe Creative Team have put together this book for you to easily expand your knowledge of the Adobe Photoshop program. Learn how to do things better and faster, all from reading this book.

23. The Adobe Photoshop CS3 Book for Digital Photographers (Voices That Matter)
To have Adobe Photoshop is one thing; to be able to use it is one thing, but to be able to use it well is another. And that is especially true when it comes to digital photography. If you want the best tips and tricks, this book won’t lead you astray.

24. Adobe Illustrator CS3 Classroom in a Book
Master the programs in Adobe Illustrator by using this book as a step-by-stop guide. The Adobe Creative Team will guide you where you need to go.

25. The Adobe Illustrator CS3 Wow! Book (WOW!)
If you want to be the best with using Adobe’s Illustrator, you need this book. There are tons of lessons in this book to help you learn new tools. Ever wonder how to take a desaturated image and make it appear to be a color photo? Read and learn.

26. Adobe InDesign CS3 Classroom in a Book
This is a good book for beginners. Make sure to get the second printing, as the first as some typos!

27. HTML, XHTML, and CSS, Sixth Edition (Visual Quickstart Guide)
You should know HTML, and probably XHTML and CSS as well. So learn it here, with this wonderful book! This is not for advanced students.

28. CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions
Authors Andy Budd, Simon Collison, and Cameron Moll have written the ultimate guide to CSS! Learn everything you wanted to know, and more – in this book.

29. Bulletproof Web Design: Improving flexibility and protecting against worst-case scenarios with XHTML and CSS (2nd Edition)
When you build a Web site, you want it to work. This book will help you learn how to get out all of the kinks and bugs from your site so that the widest possible audience can access it without flaws.

30. SEO Book
When you have a Web site, you want traffic. You get that through search engine optimization (SEO). This is the only book you will ever need to master search engine optimization and you can download it!

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Cadence is You The Designer's senior blogger, and the most jack-of-all-trades of the staff. She's always trying out something different every day, some of which fuels her posts here on the blog. Let her know if you want us to post more about your favorite topic - she might know more than a thing or two about it!

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  • http://splitdadiz.com Polo

    Very cool list, thanks !

  • http://allgraphicdesign.com/ Rachel Goldstein

    Nice list of books. I did a survey of forum members for a similar list – they came up with these books – http://allgraphicdesign.com/graphicsblog/2007/04/22/list-of-top-essential-graphic-design-books/

    I will make sure to link to your article on books as well as my users will enjoy your list.

    Thanks.

  • http://www.yourfirstcreditcard.com Derrick

    Thanks for compiling such a wonderful list!

  • http://justcreativedesign.com Jacob Cass

    Nice post. I would also include Robin Williams Non Designers Type Book… Great for those just starting out.

    http://www.amazon.com/Non-Designers-Type-Book-Robin-Williams/dp/0201353679

  • http://www.blog.spoongraphics.co.uk Chris

    Great collection – I never knew there were so many Graphic Designer books haha!

    I might have to look into a couple of those.

    Chris

  • http://www.richgee.com Rich Gee

    Tsk, tsk – no Edward Tufte books? He taught me everything I know about design. Check him out:
    http://www.edwardtufte.com or at Amazon.

  • http://www.madspace.co.uk Judith

    I work for a company involved with graphic design and it is wonderful to see such a complete list!!

    I doubt anyone here has taken the time to even think about something like this – let alone compile and publish it.

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for all your wonderfully hard work!

    http://www.madspace.co.uk

  • http://www.ccnaexploration.blogspot.com CCNA Exploration

    Thanks for the great books list!

  • Mike

    Nice list but for me you missed one of the best graphic design books of all time. ‘A Smile in the Mind’ . Also another lovely little book is ‘A Technique for producing ideas’ from 1965 no less.

    http://www.phaidon.com/Default.aspx/Web/a-smile-in-the-mind-9780714838120

    http://www.amazon.com/Technique-Producing-Ideas-James-Young/dp/0844230006

  • sketch

    Great list but how could you miss this absolute classic?
    Adrian Frutiger – Signs and Symbols: Their Design and Meaning.

  • pants

    what about karlssonwilker’s tellmewhy?

  • Gino

    Thank you all for the comments and book suggestions. I look forward to checking them all out!

  • http://www.resolvedhosting.com Mayka

    Great! I’ll try my best to look back again the link of the book articles, as soon I’m no longer busy because it’s really cool.

  • http://www.jasontavarez.com Jason T

    Always trying to improve myself, and I’m pleasantly surprised that I happen to have a few of the books on the list! I feel a little more professional now, and to add to the comments from Mr. Cass and Mike, both the design book by Robin Williams and “A Technique For Producing Ideas” are very simple yet effective as well!

    Thanks for broadening horizons!

  • http://www.psychic9.com psychic readings

    I have a couple of these books. Theyre excellent resources

  • Ruhayat

    #15 and #16 sound interesting. I’d add the classic “Stop Stealing Sheep (and find out how type works)” by Erik Spiekermann and EM Ginger. Also, for designers in the field, I rate the Linda Weinman H. O. T. series higher than the Adobe Classrooms in a Book.

  • http://designsbycalvin.com/blog Calvin Gilbert

    Great list, I am really enjoying your site.

  • http://coroflot.com/george georigin

    Thinking with type is a phenomenal book!

  • http://www.webefforts.co.uk Max Worton

    …may I also mention the book by logolounge…its very good

    _______________________________
    Web Efforts
    http://www.webefforts.co.uk

  • http://www.findsimilarpages.com Dan

    Wow, great list! Not sure where to start though.

  • http://www.dot-design.co.uk Gareth Coxon – Dot Design

    Great list and many I’ve not heard of before, one of my favourite design books is “Hand Job: A Catalog of Type ” so I glad it made it in. I find it’s a really good book for looking through when you need to loosen up on a project.