- The Typographic Desk Reference
- by Theodore Rosendorf
Just as the title suggests, this is a must to have sitting on your desk at all times. It may be thin, but it’s a densely packed visual glossary of type terms and design knowhow. Basically, a typographer’s manual of style.
- The Form of the Book
- by Jan Tschichold
A collection of 23 essays compiled over 40 years on Tschichold’s thoughts on layout and design, primarily with type. While this work focuses mostly on concerns specific to book design, its presentation of topics is wonderfully approachable, and many of the guidelines are applicable to any medium. A true treasure from one of the father’s of modern book and system design.
- The Art of Looking Sideways
- by Alan Fletcher
A seriously massive work from the late Alan Fletcher compiling tons of quotes, work, and nuggets of wisdom from designers, artists, writers, and more, all categorized by topic. One of the most diverse and densely packed sources of inspiration you can have on your shelf.
- Visual Grammar
- by Christian Leborg
A slim and simple tome, but visually stunning in its description of the basic principles of objects on a page and how they interact with one another. Visual Grammar serves as both a visual dictionary and a straightforward introduction to the visual language of graphic design.
- Art Direction Explained, At Last!
- by Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne
Defining “art direction” is a hard enough nut to crack on its own, but teaching it to someone can be a daunting task. It combines so many unknowns, so many gut feelings, and so much intuition, that it’s best learned from seasoned practitioners. Steve Heller and Veronique Vienne, two battle-hardened art directors in their own right, define and discuss just what art direction is and how to capture the best thoughts in your designs. This book compiles their take on the topic, and polls many of the world’s best art directors through case studies and interviews.
- The ABC’s of Bauhaus
- by Ellen Lupton and Abbott Miller
A thin but powerful book collecting essays of type and design based on the Bauhaus principles and theories edited by (and with contributions from) the indomitable husband and wife team of Ellen Lupton and Abbott Miller. A perfect primer for learning all about The Bauhaus.
- Thinking with Type
- by Ellen Lupton
Building on her years of experience both as a designer and an educator, Lupton presents a sturdy primer on type and its use, charting a course through early forms of type and anatomy, to modern usage and common pitfalls (including some wonderful bits about crimes against typography). This is a great place for newcomers to typography to start, and a strong resource for experienced designers to brush up with. And it’s beautifully designed to boot.
- Making and Breaking the Grid
- by Timothy Samara
A worthwhile book on grids. After a brief introduction to grids and their usage, the book launches into gallery mode by showcasing examples from a variety of media. It breaks down the grid being used in each piece while walking through a broad range of styles and solutions. Less academic than other grid books, but succeeds in depicting solid problem solving.
- Understanding Comics
- by Scott McCloud
Though the main subject here is about comic books as an artistic medium and a vehicle for storytelling, all of its lessons are just as applicable to design problems. The entire book appears in the format it champions, a graphic novel, narrated by the comic book version of the author. This is a fantastic book to help you think about design from a different angle and gain deeper insight into the decisions you are tasked with making as a visual storyteller.
- Comics and Sequential Art
- by Will Eisner
While the focus of Eisner’s book is on visual storytelling in comic books, the lessons are equally useful for all students of visual media. Topics covered include the anatomy of a story, how visuals can impact and drive a story forward, and using visual media as a means of artistic expression.
- Type & Typography
- by Phil Baines and Andrew Haslam
Notable for its breadth of coverage in just about all aspects of typography. This book can serve as a great overview of topics, and makes a good reference for matters of type anatomy, type layout, grids and related terminology.
- Detail in Typography
- by Jost Hochuli
A brief but sturdy look at the finer points of typography, including readability and line length, type selection, optimal sizing and spacing, and the magic of well considered type. Serves as a great desktop reference for typographic guidelines.
- Visual Literacy: A Conceptual Approach to Graphic Problem Solving
- by Judith Wilde, Richard Wilde
A ground-level course in basic design principles like rhythm, pattern, focal point, and contrast presented as assignments from a design class complete with creative thinking exercises and real solutions from the authors’ students. Solid advice and examples to help you walk before you can run. These practices are so fundamental, yet are so easily overlooked daily.
- Grid Systems in Graphic Design
- by Josef Müller-Brockmann
Your basic course in grid work. Though I will probably be dragged outside and beaten, I have to say that this book is not the bees’ knees. While it is an incredibly worthwhile book in grid systems, there are many more, newer volumes that are, I dare say, easier to digest. Many designers find this book to be the end-all-be-all, most of that is due praise because Müller-Brockmann was pretty much the first guy to synthesize this information. All I am saying is every designer should read at least one grid design book, and this is the daddy of them, but do some research, you may find one that works better for you (even if they are just presenting the same information a little differently).
- The Elements of Typographic Style
- by Robert Bringhurst
An essential book for anyone who uses type in design. Yeah, that’s right, I mean you. As a graphic designer, you owe it to yourself to read more books like this. Inside, you will find some hardcore principles of design, like The Golden Section, a thorough disection of type forms, type usage and layout, type identification, and ever so much more. Mostly focused on page design and print material (skewed towards type layout) but contains ridiculously useful information which is easily applied to all forms of design. For a more basic, but equally worthwhile starter course, try Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works by Erik Spiekermann and E.M. Ginger.