To be 100% clear from the outset, this is the Top 10 Graphic Design book for graduates and graphic designers starting out in the industry - but with an additional three books (shameless plug) written by our Director. We've all gotta eat, right? I've avoided design books that just show pages and pages of other people's work as much as possible. It turns out that a lot of these recommendations doff their caps to the past. That's not to say modern designers haven't produced great work and great books. It does mean that our list might differ from others you might have seen.

In no particular order and covering both graphic design and web design, here we go:


1: Stop stealing sheep
Erik Spiekermann
This was the first book that I read that really taught me something about graphic design. There are no, or at least very few 'beautiful' examples of work and when there are they are backed up by the reasoning and theory thats underpinned each decision. It was published originally in 1993 and still relevant today and still one of the best book on theory there is.


2: Don't make me think
Steve Krug
Published in 2005, this book tackled issues of web design, when web design was in its infancy. Revised in 2013, Mr Krug did little more than update his principles to accommodate the new and emerging technology - but the principles remain. Every designer, very web designer, every web design commissioner should read and learn this book. In my opinion.


3: How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul
Adrian Shaughnessy
I read this on a coach back from Oxford. It is an insight into the workings and the work of a graphic design. No show-boating here, just advise from a man who know's his industry and has a well deserved reputation for it. Read it twice,when you graduate and when you are thinking of setting yourself up in business.


4: A Smile in the mind
Beryl McAlhone and David Stuart
This is a collection of great designs work that, well, make you smile. Published before Noma Bar hit the scene, and assuredly he'd take up a few pages of a new edition, it showcases great thinking and great work. It won't teach you to think like these bods, but it might inspire you to try.


5: An essay on typography
Eric Gill
A sculptor, a print maker and typographer. Influenced by Edward Johnston, and you can see how. This essay is a peep into the past and into the mind of a typographer in his time, the 1930s. It should of course have an extended title (as was) "The classic & long unavailable argument for good taste, common sense & human involvement composed for anyone remotely interested in the subtle & changing challenge of the typographic arts"


6: Otl Aicher
Markus Rathgeb
People often use the word 'pioneer' but this chap truly was. His pictograms were seminal and still referenced today. His use of Helvetica Black and brand understanding for the Lufthansa airline was and is miles ahead of its time. Remember this was a time way before DTP and Macs, at a time when yo had to 'cast off type' and use a pen. Ground breaking and a true pioneer.


7: The art of looking sideways
Alan Fletcher
The title might sound like something you do after a few drinks. This is a design tome, packed with a cacophony of material, it will sit next to you desk for life. It's a scrap book, a memoir, it's almost 'living'. It will make you look at thing from a different perspective and if you are very lucky, inspire you to tackle your briefs with the same joie de vivre.


8: Thoughts on design
Paul Rand
This man was the master of simplicity at a time when graphic design embraced 'complexity'. His work for IBM could have been done yesterday – and no better. In fact the AIGA have adopted his iconography, and why wouldn't they?  Anything this man has done is worth respect and a long hard look at his work.


9: Saul Bass: A life in Film & Design
Jennifer Bass
Just take a look at film posters today. The big Photoshopped image and 3D text and all the other bits and bods that go with it. Bass, and who ever signed off the poster for The Anatomy of Murder, created an image that still looks amazing. His ability to side step the expected solution and create an 'icon' that communicates the ethos of  the film, is quite frankly, outstanding.


10: Abram Games: Design
Naomi Games

I've chosen book that mix showcasing work from the world's best and books that will help you be a better designer, or at least expose you to some of the great minds in design. The list could be 30 titles long easily. Maybe it will be in another post.


And our own three? Well, you have to read the reviews yourself and draw your own conclusions.

And our own three? Well, you have to read the reviews yourself and draw your own conclusions.

Subscribe to our newsletter