I will probably get some downvotes for this since I asked a similar question here: https://graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/29362/cs-graduate-starting-out-in-graphics-design-what-are-the-main-principles-of-de and it was closed down. The answers/comments I had in that question where mostly concerning UI designing which is NOT what I am looking for. The title was a bit deceiving.

In the linked question, I had an answer that stated I should I read Visual Grammar by Christian LeBorg, which I have just finished.

The other links where mostly concerned with UI design which is not what I am looking for.

What would be a next good book I should read that focuses on design/print media?

I am looking to learn the basic principles behind designing such print media.

I am NOT talking about print requirements(print bleeds, DPI settings etc), I am mostly concerned about "Principles of Design"-style books.


Thanks for all the answers so far, I'm sure most of them are really nice. I can't accept an answer until I have read some of the books here which I plan to do, I have lots of free time on my hands. For now I am reading Universal Principles of Design

  • 3
    You do realize people spend years in school or on-the-job training to learn this stuff, especially for print, right? You are kind of asking for a shortcut to a wealth of necessary information. Rather than focusing on "fliers" you need to learn about type, color, space, balance, movement, etc. Then about CMYK, separations, color profiles, etc for print. There are no "basics". There are specific requirements for print production which are unrelated (or additional) to design itself.
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 10:51
  • See, you need to understand reproduction restrictions before you start designing something. What is good for the web is most often NOT good for print. You need to start with questions about basics - What are the principals of good balance in design? (Remember Google will answer many of these types of questions.) - that sort of thing. Not "What book to read to make fliers."
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 10:58
  • The principals of design are generally universal, but the requirements and methods of/for reproduction can change dramatically.
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 10:58
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    @NicholasKyriakides Universal Principles of Design is brilliant, one of my favourite design books, but it's maybe not the best for beginners - it leaves you to figure out for yourself how all the principles apply. But maybe you like that kind of challenge. If not, I'd suggest starting with the examples in the answers below, particularly Alan G's, then move to Universal Principles once you've worked through them and fancy a bit of a challenge. Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 17:55
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    Suggestion: edit the title to "Suggestion on Introductory Books about Graphic Design" to help you avoid the imminent hold : ) That way the question would actually be great and useful for a lot of users. Not everybody has access to formal education, or the luxury or the time for it. I studied Computer Sciences formally but taught myself rudiments of graphic design because I needed it for work (i.e. to pay my rent). If I would get offended every time a formal graphic designer tries to program a web page (i.e. crosses the border to what is my professional realm), I would have no liver anymore.
    – cockypup
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 18:01

5 Answers 5


I am not going to give you a massive list of resources, but as a basic understanding of graphic elements, I will recommend first:

Visual Grammar by Christian Leborg

I also think that seasoned designers would do well to dip into this now and then; we often get stuck in our use of elements. It goes right to the base of the nature of visual grammar.

Best thing is; you can download it for free from Google.

Since you have recently finished this, for type, I would suggest:

Thinking with type by Ellen Lupton

  • (I added Leborg for future reference)
    – benteh
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 11:21
  • Thanks, but i found Visual Grammar a bit too broad and primitive. It seemed absolutely necessary to read but it seems to be just that, a Grammar. It doesn't state how balance is achieved for example, how color should be used etc etc. Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 11:34
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    It is far from primitive. It might seem so, but it is the grammar of visuals. Look around how these elements are used, you will never look at graphics the same way again :). Its strength is exactly that it does not tell you what is best. Other books that will do that, but many of these are biased and dated. The reluctance here of recommending directly probably stems from this. Read Leborg and Lupton, then actually look around you. If the process of developing "the eye" are not satisfactory, Google/Amazon search will give you more options than you care to have.
    – benteh
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 11:43
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    Hahah - brilliant. Be warned though, if you learn typography, you will see horrid stuff everywhere :D
    – benteh
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 12:00

Here are the steps you should take at this point:

  • Obtain and read "The Non-Designer's Design and Type Books" by Robin Williams. This is the book I consistently recommend to anyone in your situation and quite often to my own clients to help them get a better grasp on the subject. It's easy to read, very practical, and full of simple-to-grasp visual examples to groove in the fundamentals.

  • Subscribe to "Before and After" magazine. Publisher John McWade, one of my heroes, also has a number of excellent videos online that illustrate design craft fundamentals. You might say that Before and After starts where the Non-Designer's Design Book leaves off.

  • Once you have that under your belt, go out and pick up flyers from kiosks, hotel lobbies, tourism centers, museums or anywhere you find them on display. Compare them to what you've learned so far. When something is effective, identify why it's effective; do the same for things that look bad. This will greatly increase your recognition of what's good and what's not, and will start to build the visual vocabulary you will need to start making your own designs.

  • Pick out two or three of these flyers that you find particularly effective. Work out how you could create them with the tools you know. Actually recreate at least one of them as closely as you can. Don't neglect this step. Keep at it until you're able to create a good duplicate (perhaps with different images, but slavishly copying the design) of your model. This grooves in basic craft skills that you have to have to do anything useful.

  • Find a flyer template that will keep you straight on dimensions, bleeds, where folds will be, and nitty-gritty technical details like that. There are plenty out there. Printing companies very often have them on their websites, and if you know what printer you want to work with you should use their template.

  • Start creating your own flyer. Be willing to throw things away, start over, abandon an idea that doesn't work out even after you've invested many sleepless hours on it. Frank Lloyd Wright famously declared that his most useful tools were the eraser in the drafting office and the sledgehammer on the building site. It's a good maxim to keep in mind. Being willing to ditch an unworkable idea frees you to make things that do work.

  • Any time you aren't sure where to go with some part of the design, go back to the Robin Williams book and see if the answer isn't in there.

Chances are it will take a few iterations before you and the client are satisfied, but by the time you've done a few of these you'll have started to get a good feel for the design process and the practicalities of creating flyers.

  • 1
    A splendid answer to a pretty tricky question.
    – benteh
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 17:35
  • 1
    @RandomO'Reilly I think Alan here hit the spot Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 3:04

These are my top must-reads for all new designers:

The Elements of Typographic Style

How to Be a Graphic Designer without Losing Your Soul

I have more, but need the reputation in order to post.


  • Great resources...
    – RANGER
    Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 16:38

This is not the ultimate answer, just my droplet

Thou Shall Not Use Comic Sans

I find that this book, although sounds silly and gimmicky, is actually a great introduction to graphic design. Not a text book at all, but for somebody starting to "think" about design it is great, because of its light and humorous tone and because of the huge spectrum it covers.

  • I am under the impression that humorous tones create an effect of playfulness between the reader and the book which is actually a really good thing. Keeps of that ''stale'' feeling when reading. Is it about type or graphics design in general? Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 15:02
  • @NicholasKyriakides: You are right. I am a big fan of humour as a tool for communicating. Places the receiver in a good mood : ) The book is about graphic design in general, not only about type. It covers colour, composition, industry standards, etc. Each section is very short, but incredibly well written and informative, since the writer is an active graphic designer. It makes for a great bedside or commuting read.
    – cockypup
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 17:42

I understand your predicament. You can't learn every topic but that doesn't mean you can't get your feet wet with many. Having a survey-level comprehension of graphic design will make you better in other areas and hopefully help you collect a few extra Euros along the way ;)

If I had to choose one

There are a lot of design books out there. Many are geared toward novices. Many are terrible. But there is one I would recommend for every library.

Typographic Design: Form and Communication 5th ed

Typographic Design: Form and Communication

This book will take you briefly through historical developments to give you a broad understanding of the discipline. Then it moves onto the practical, foundational aspects of well designed communication. It's fairly easy to scan when you need to catch up, but deep enough to serve as the starting point of a design education. It's been around a long time but its principals still hold up well.

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