Design Principles

Books to help understand the fundamentals of design

  • Geometry of Design

    Kimberly Elam has a unique way of showing the way things are designed. This is a really interesting book that will help you see the underlying use case of grids, proportions, and the composition of where and why some graphical elements are placed where they are. I found this a good primer to other grid systems.

  • book about design

    Graphic Design — The New Basics

    An excellent cover to cover collection of value for people who are starting out in graphic design.

  • book about design

    Steal Like an Artist — 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

    Guidance and advice for the newbies. You want to become a creative person? Start to look within your own self.

  • book about design

    Graphic Design Visionaries

    This book showcases seventy-five of the most influential designers. A good look into the contributions of design legends in modern media and design.

  • book about design

    The Design Process

    Get a fresh picture of the design process by taking a look at the different areas of design and their application.

  • book about design

    Art of the Book — Structure, Material, and Technique

    When they say print is dead, they talk about what they go over in this book. It is a comprehensive guide to printed volumes, featuring not only finished projects but also the techniques and materials of bookmaking, as well as definitions of the terminology.

  • book about design

    Pioneer of Swiss Graphic Design

    Josef Muller Brockman is one of the best designers with grid and typography.

  • book about design

    How To — Michael Beirut

    How to is a book that goes over design's impact in recent history over the last century. With titles on "how to" change things with graphic design, this gives vision into the things we do every day as a designer.

Design Strategy Books

Design thinking, design strategy, and applying the design process to your work.

  • book about design

    Creative Strategy and the Business of Design

    Hands down, this is the best book on translating all of the business terms and marketing jargon into actionable design strategy. This is important for anyone on teams, freelancers, agency owners. This gives you the ability to pare down intense marketing and business objectives and apply it to creative strategy.

  • book about design

    Value Proposition Design — How to Create Products and Services Customers Want

    Take what you know about designing products and services and pair that with what you need to learn about basing that work off of real-world data. This book is for helping you understand the patterns of great value propositions and the impact of your efforts as a designer.

  • Pricing Design

    This e-book is a must-read for anyone who has to price design. You have no idea what you should charge? Use this book as a springboard to introduce yourself to the world of value based pricing. For the book, it's one of the most cost effective ways to increase your price in a way that's fair to both parties.

  • book about design

    The Decision Book — 50 Models for Strategic Thinking

    We're some of the most indecisive departments as designers when it comes to making decisions on important things. This book goes through summaries of popular strategies to choose directions.

  • book about design

    Change by Design — How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation

    A really holistic view of design thinking along with the design process and methods. It's a look into the reasons why every department should apply design thinking.

  • book about design

    101 Things I Learned in Business School

    Really interesting book on business terms and philosophy. This isn't necessarily design, but these are things you'll be designing for. It's best to get knowledge of these business terms, and this book can help you.

Design Managment Books

Books to help you become a better design manager.

  • Design Leadership Handbook

    InVision has done a lot these past few years to understand the guiding thoughts behind design leadership and managment within a company. When thinking of how to do this for my own teams, I stumbled upon InVisions free book series which helped me dive into better ways to run a design team. This is a good book for learning how to support and approach a team with design leadership.

  • DesignOps Handbook

    DesignOps was the focus of the third season of the DesignBetter Podcast by InVision. This book is a big joint effort of a lot of people who have helped shape the ways we approach building a design team. A lot of good ideas on operationalizing workflows, hiring and team alignment in here.

Ethics and Inclusivity in Design

Books to help you become a better product designer.

  • Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design

    Kat Holmes wrote a powerful book about changing our approach to design to focus on inclusion as a fundamental building block of design. The work we do has an impact, and we need the ideologies and actions taken from this book to ensure we're doing the right thing, not to alienate people by designing things without them in mind.

  • book about design

    Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It

    This book is written by one of the greatest cynics of our time, Mike Monteiro. He covers the way that designers must be held responsible for the things we create. It's a perfect reflection of the uncomfortable truths we have. It also gives clear instruction on how to turn the world of product design around.

  • book about design

    DESIGN{H}ERS: A Celebration of Women in Design Today

    I love the way this book calls out a pretty big issue, there's been very little celebration over the accomplishments of women in design. This book has a really great view on why that might be and showcases the talent of a lot of great women in design.

  • Game Devs & Others: tales from the margins

    This book covers the experiences people from marginalized communites have within their creative field. These stories are truly eye opening showing the fights and things these people still have to fight for are dealing with. If you would like to learn about and build empathy towards your peers, this is a great book to broaden your acceptance and uplifting of other creatives in the field.

Freelance Design Books

Books to help you run your agency or freelance business better.

  • Freelance, and Business, and Stuff

    By Amy and Jennifer Hood, these two sisters have had quite a journey going through running their own design agency and creative goods business. This has a lot of great life lessons that are hard earned by them. This book has great tips on creating budgets, setting up your business, handling clients, raising rates. This book will help you hit the ground running as a new-and-improved freelancer.

  • book about design

    Run Studio Run: How to Operate and Grow a small creative studio

    This book by Eli Altman was an excellent read. The book is beautifully designed and has a lot of actionable tips for people who want to run a small design studio. As a solo designer of my own studio, I found that there's still some excellent advice on growing your client list, how to bill, how to handle clients, and for the future, how to manage other creatives. This is one to check out for sure.

  • book about design

    Designing Together — The collaboration and conflict management handbook for creative professionals

    Sometimes if you're freelance, or the only person on a team, it can be pretty demanding trying to do large scale jobs. I hope this book helps you get the right amount of work and results that you can get being a solo-designer.

  • book about design

    You're My Favorite Client

    Client work can be tricky to navigate. Mike here goes over his ways to build connections with his clients.

  • book about design

    Win without pitching manifesto

    I cannot recommend this book enough. The book by Blair talks about how to treat your practice as a professional and be seen as a professional by whomever you do business with.

  • book about design

    How to Win Friends & Influence People

    I wish the title wasn't what it is because this book isn't malicious at all. It's understanding that in order for people to care what you do you have to treat them like people. You become interesting by being interested in others.

  • book about design

    Show Your Work!

    Learn to promote your work like a pro. Some people are naturals at this, but if you need to get work out there, use this book to get out of your comfort zone.

  • book about design

    The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

    I wish the title wasn't what it is because this book isn't malicious at all. It's understanding that in order for people to care what you do you have to treat them like people. You become interesting by being interested in others.

  • book about design

    Design is a job

    Design is not what you think it is. It's a culmination of the most work you'll do in your life. It's thankfully a very easy read, but highly valuable.

  • book about design

    Delivering Happiness — A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

    Building company culture and building your business in a way most people probably don't. Definitely thinking outside the box with customer service and company culture.

  • book about design

    Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent!)

    Mixed reviews on this one, but it's great for inspirational quotes and thoughts on the creative industry, getting yourself out there, and communicating what you do.

  • book about design

    The Compound Effect

    Every little thing you do becomes habitual. Those habits can compound on themselves to make or break you. Use this to use habits to your advantage.

  • book about design

    How to Be a Graphic Designer without Losing Your Soul

    It's okay be a designer, it's okay to be human. It's okay to be both. This book can help you figure out how to survive as a designer.

Product Design Books

Books to help you become a better product designer.

Design Systems Books

Books that help you understand the best ways to build and maintain a design system.

  • Laying the foundations: A book about design systems

    This book is by Andrew Couldwell, a freelance designer focused on scaling design within a product company. I've read this book through and find myself often referencing back to it while building out my design system for Compass. It's probably the best model I've found so far on what goes in the design system. Definitely worth a read.

UI Design Books

Good books on UI design that focus on layout, grid, and user interaction design.

UX Design Books

User experience in everyday things. UX design books for both physical and digital products.

Branding and Logo Design Books

Books on how brands and marketing affect every buying decision we make.

Illustration Books

Books for becoming a better illustrator.

  • book about design

    Thinking Visually for Illustrators (Basics Illustration)

    A deep dive into visual language and practical applications to find your own voice as an illustrator.

  • book about design

    Illustration Play

    Exploring trends in the illustration world. Not so much digital as in hands on work, but it's a great look into what else is out there in the field.

  • book about design

    Illustration Play 2

    Another look at exploring trends in the illustration world. Experimental forms of illustration like papercraft, and other unconventional applications.

  • book about design

    Design As Art

    This book looks at how art, design, and human beings are intertwined. You'll see a lot of references from many areas of design and illustration and their applications in the real world.

  • book about design

    Champagne and Wax Crayons — Riding the Madness of the Creative Industry

    History of an illustrator named Ben Tallon and goes over the things that he dealt with during his journey. A way of looking at individuality and it's importance in your career.

  • book about design

    Inside the Business of Illustration

    This book goes over the things that you'll run into with authorship and promotion as an illustrator. This is a fresh perspective on illustration as art and illustration as a business.

Typography and Hand Lettering Books

Good type is the foundation for nearly every form of design. Here are some great typography books.

  • book about design

    Designing Type

    One of the most essential tools of graphic design, typography influences the appearance of visual print materials perhaps more than any other component. This essential book explains the processes behind creating and designing type. Every letter itself influences the rest of the design. This is a good look at composition and systems within typography.

  • book about design

    The Golden Secrets of Lettering: Letter Design from First Sketch to Final Artwork

    By Martina Flor, this book starts out with typography definitions which are very helpful for a good overview up front, especially with making well constructed letters. You'll get a lot of great helpful tips for working with color, becoming a professional lettering designer, pricing, and some good info for doing this full time.

  • book about design

    Logo, Font & Lettering Bible

    This book by Leslie Cabarga is a celebration almost for the making of type. There's a lot of history on type, guides on lettering basics for digital lettering, and understanding the bezier curves.

  • book about design

    The ABC of Custom Lettering: A Practical Guide to Drawing Letters

    This is a great step by step guide on how to get lettering styles down. You'll learn how to construct and mix variants of type forms like script, serif, sans-serif. A great book full of tips and guides on creating letters by hand.

  • book about design

    Thinking with Type, 2nd revised and expanded edition

    A really, really good guide to using typography. This book is a staple for any designer that has to use even a single word. It has terminology, history, (a really helpful guide to grids in design). Get this if you plan on getting into design.

  • book about design

    Stop Stealing Sheep and Figure out how Type Works

    Demonstrations on typography done the right way. It's well designed and informative. This might be a good starting point into using typography for new designers (or any designer for that matter.)

  • book about design

    The Elements of Typographic Style

    This book is for the type nerds like us who want to know everything there is to know about the elements of typography. Honestly, I couldn't finish this book because of how dense the information is in here. You learn the effects of rhythm and proportion, character alternatives in fonts and typefaces... really, get this book if you're somebody who builds letters from scratch and uses it in big designs.

  • book about design

    Just My Type — A Book About Fonts

    You'd probably think that this book goes over modern fonts... You might be surprised that a typeface (like a font) is over 500 years old. There's just so many great fonts that were designed centuries before you were here.

  • book about design

    Typographic Design — Form and Communication

    A deep dive into the form of letters, typography, and it's uses.

  • book about design

    In Progress — See Inside a Lettering Artist's Sketchbook and Process from Pencil to Vector

    Really good work book on taking sketches and moving them into vector programs to create beautiful hand lettering.

  • book about design

    Jost Hochuli — Detail In Typography

    A deep dive into letters, letterspacing, words, wordspacing, lines, and columns.

  • book about design

    Elegantissima — The Design and Typography of Louise Fili

    Very lavish hand lettering and it's application in modern day things. A good inspiration book of Louise Fili.

Motion Graphics and Animation Books

Books for Motion Graphics and the best practices of designing for animation.

  • Animation Handbook

    As motion and animation start making itself an important part of product design, this book by InVision can help you understand a bit about the guiding principles of animation in UI. I couldn't decide where to place this, so I figured it's best to put it here.