8 Books Every Designer Should Read


Being a great designer is more than just making pretty things. There's a ton of theory that goes along with why some designs work and others just don't. While there are hundreds of different books out there about design and theory, you don't need to read them all. Here are 8 of our favorite books for designers to get you started.

  1. Infographics: The Power of Visual Storytelling by Jason Lankow, Josh Ritchie, and Ross Crooks The three authors of this book lead a creative agency that specializes in infographic design, data visualization and social PR. This book will help you learn how to communicate your message in a way that sets it apart by using infographics and data visualization. This book will help you find ways to visually share your data with your audience. It includes easy-to-follow tips to help you create some awesome visual content.
  2. Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield Just My Type is a book about fonts and their stories. It covers the history of typefaces and why we make the type choices that we make. Just My Type discusses how adding fonts to a drop down menu made it possible to find a favorite font. The book starts with a tale about how a font got out of control. It's an interesting read even if you don't consider yourself any sort of designer.
  3. Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors & Students by Ellen Lupton Thinking with Type includes type theory as well as practical examples for any designer to use. This book will help you get the most out of the typeface that you're working with. While Just My Type discusses specific typefaces and their history and popularity, Thinking with Type focuses more on the use of type as a visual element., so thinking about things like  kerning, hierarchy and font size. This book features do's and don't's, exercises, and essays about letters, text, and grids.
  4. The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman This book literally focuses on the design of things you use every day, like doors, faucets, and stoves. Norman writes about how the design of something like a door should indicate how it works without you needing a sign that tells you what to do. He says, "two of the most important characteristics of good design are discoverability and understanding."  What he means  is that through something's design you should be able to figure out how to use or understand how the object is intended to be used. Looking at everyday things and understanding why they're created in the specific ways that they are, can help you in your design career.
  5. Graphic Design, Referenced: A Visual Guide to the Language, Applications, and History of Graphic Design by Bryony Gomez-Palacio This graphic design book showcases more than 2,000 design projects over more than 400 entries. Throughout this book you'll find historical moments, landmark projects, terms, and best practices. Graphic Design, Referenced is, above all, a reference book that you could look through when you're searching for some inspiration.
  6. This Means This, This Means That: A User's Guide to Semiotics by Sean Hall Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols and their uses or interpretations, so essentially this book is the study of signs. All of the examples are especially illustrative which should help you understand exactly what Hall's writing about. He presents a sign or symbol and asks a question about it, like "What nationality is represented by this object?" or "What is wrong with this menu?" and then presents an explanation for why you might have come to a certain conclusion.
  7. Making and Breaking the Grid: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop by Timothy Samara Making and Breaking the Grid is a layout design workshop that shows designers' works and their reasons for working certain ways. Their projects are displayed over several pages, so you can really get a feel for the details. You'll be able to learn about typographic space, sequencing, and the different kinds of grids.
  8. 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People (Voices That Matter) by Susan Weinschenk It's important to understand why people think the way that they do so that you can make effective designs. This book answers questions to help you increase the effectiveness and usability of your designs.