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The Non-Designer's Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice First Printing Edition

143 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 007-6092006329
ISBN-10: 1566091594
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

This book is for the secretary laying out an office newsletter, the entrepreneur designing her own advertising, the student wanting a better-looking term paper, or the professional creating a lasting impression with a new client. As a book of general design principles, it doesn't matter what computer one is using, or whether one is using a computer at all - the principles and terminology of good design remain the same.

Robin assumes that readers simply want to know how to make pages look better. She equips them with the four basic concepts used in virtually every well-designed job. Dozens of real-world examples enliven the text and demonstrate that Robin practices what she preaches: Good design does indeed capture the reader's attention.

In the second half, the focus is on type, specifically the problem of combining multiple typefaces. Robin demonstrates that in page design, as in life, a relationship is established that is either concordant, conflicting, or contrasting.

Each chapter is conveniently summarized, and there are practical design exercises, optional quizzes, and bibliography. Throughout the book, readers are encouraged to feel at ease in the often confusing world of graphic design.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Pearson Education; First Printing edition (January 25, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566091594
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566091596
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.3 x 10.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #528,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

108 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leeper on November 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
As mentioned in the introduction to the text, this book is not for professional designers. This book is intended for those of us who need to put together a flyer, presentation, or newsletter, but we don't have the background in design. The design the author refers to is the design of the printed page.
The author explains simple principles that help us see what makes for a good design like proximity, alignment, repetition, and contrast. There are plenty of before-and-after examples to show you exactly what she means. The explanations are also very understandable. Williams does not preach to you, but rather helps you see the different elements which can make the visual more effective.
There are also some quizzes with answers in the back. Included is a short bibliography so the reader can get more information if he or she chooses.
There are some problems with the book. One, it discusses the use of color, but there are no color pictures to illustrate the point. The author knew the illustrations would no be color so asks you to visualize this in your head. It wasn't the most helpful here.
Also, towards the end, she uses some editing/printing jargon that she never explains. If the reader does not have a design background, why mention leading if not explained?
Overall, I find this book to be very helpful. Knowing the elements I should be looking for ensures that my experimenting with flyers is more productive and effective. I would recommend this book to anyone needing to create newsletters, flyers, and the like.
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86 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Bob Carpenter on October 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
Robin Williams provides a practical introduction to the classical principles of design in this pamphlet-sized book. Her discussion of layout is organized around four basic design principles: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment and Proximity. Each is presented in its own chapter with plenty of you-can-do-it-at-home examples. The typography section explains the principles of Concord, Conflict and Contrast, based on Williams'classification of type faces by style (Oldstyle, Modern, Slab Serif, Sans Serif, Script and Decorative), weight (Light, Bold), Shape (Narrow, Wide), and spacing. A discussion of color is notably absent; the roots of this book in early grayscale Macintosh computing show through.
Williams's book should hit the mark for amateurs creating one-page designs such as simple web sites, brochures or business cards. Set aside an hour or two to read it and do the exercises, and your designs should improve immensely. Mine have.
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you pick up this book looking for that on-the-edge-physical comedy that made Robin Williams one of the worlds most famous comedians, boy have you got the wrong Robin Williams! This author is one of the leading authorities on visual design and presents her information in a clear, concise, no-nonsense (well almost)kind of way. Her book is a valuable resource even for people who think they are familiar with aspects of design or have been told that they, "have a good eye," so don't be dissuaded by the title. As an experienced journalist, the book brought back a lot of my earlier newspaper layout training. It put into plain language the principles for which I had no name other than, "that just doesn't look right." The principles of proximity, alignment, repetition, and contrast are highlighted and expounded upon in each section. I found the section on typography to be extremely interesting and I find myself looking for examples of contrasting type all around me now.
Visual examples of weak design and what can be done to make the design better are on nearly every page, and make the subject matter very clear. The author maintains that most beginning mistakes in design are tied to mistakes in Contrast Repetition, Alignment, or Proximity (C.R.A.P). That sounds about right. If you are going to publish any document (print or electronic) this should be the first book you read before you do.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By yarden on December 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
Don't be fooled by the title -- ­"The Non-Designer's Design Book" is a serious book that can be useful to anyone. In a slim volume, this book distills to the very essence principles that seasoned design professionals use. This is NOT Design for Dummies, it's Design-for-Wannabe-Designers, and it's not kidding.
Writer Robin Williams delivers a powerful design seminar in fun-book disguise. Her tone is light, encouraging, and creative, and her information is killer. I've read many books on this subject, and I learned many things in "The Non-Designer's Design Book" that have never even been approached in other books.
Williams begins with the basics, using examples and redesigns to illustrate design principles that will teach you how to make an effective newsletter, brochure, business card, or advertisement every time. She then moves into more complicated subjects such as typography (no kidding ­-- I've never read anything about typography in any other book) that will serve to further refine your design projects.
This book is not for the casual reader -- it is guaranteed to revolutionize the way you see, think about, and design any print media. Williams has written a clever, incisive lesson on design, while managing to be entertaining and encouraging. This book should undoubtably be a part of your complete designing education!
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