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Best Graphic Design Books

Updated June 2021
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Best of the Best
Peachpit Press The Non-Designer's Design Book
Peachpit Press
The Non-Designer's Design Book
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Easy to Understand
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A great book for those with no background or training in graphic design who want to get started.


Goes over the basics about graphic design, including designing with color, designing with type, and tips for designing specific projects like newsletters, brochures, and flyers. Information is presented in a way that is easy to understand.


This is not a book for those who already have a basic understanding of graphic design.

Best Bang for the Buck
HOW Books Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills
HOW Books
Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills
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Enhances and Sharpens
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An affordable book that is a great way for current graphic designers to challenge themselves and sharpen their skills.


Features 80 different timed creative challenges with different forms of media to help graphic designers continue to grow and expand their skills. Also includes design examples for each challenge and tips for brainstorming.


Not ideal for those who do not already have a background in graphic design.

Princeton Architectural Press Graphic Design: The New Basics
Princeton Architectural Press
Graphic Design: The New Basics
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Best for Beginners
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A good book for beginners in graphic design that explains the primary principles of design.


Uses visual examples and easy-to-understand text to explain scale, point, line, hierarchy, layers, typography, and designing with color. Ideal for beginners looking for an introduction to these concepts.


Some topics could be discussed in more detail. This is not a book meant for experienced designers.

New Riders Burn Your Portfolio: Stuff they don't teach you in design school, but should
New Riders
Burn Your Portfolio: Stuff they don't teach you in design school, but should
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Best for Professionals
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Offers real-world advice for graphic designers once they've graduated from school and are out in the working world.


Offers advice for working with and managing clients, building relationships, how to deal with difficult assignments, and more. A great resource for graphic designers who do freelance work or who are setting up their own graphic design business.


This book doesn't offer as many actual design tips as other graphic design books as it focuses instead on real world advice for working as a graphic designer.

Peachpit Press Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities
Peachpit Press
Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities
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For Advanced Designers
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A great resource for graphic designers looking to increase their knowledge of and skills with designing logos and creating brand identities.


Offers tips for designing effective logos, explaining why some logos are more effective than others, and how to turn that into a total brand identity. Also includes advice for working with clients and how to manage those relationships.


Not ideal for those brand new to graphic design who are looking for something about the fundamentals of design.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best graphic design books

Many internet users and social media fans have learned how to communicate thoughts and emotions extraordinarily well through the images and quotes that they post. In essence, this is the job description of a graphic designer. With the right graphic design book, it is possible to turn an enjoyable hobby into a rewarding career.

However, there is an abundance of graphic design books available on the market, so it can seem overwhelming when you start searching for the one that will help you the most. The book that’s best for you will focus on the areas of graphic design that you either need help with or are the most fascinated by. These can range from design principles to thinking strategies to business practices.

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A thorough graphic design book will help you understand the business side as well as the creative approach to being a graphic designer.

Book focus

As with any book, in order to quench your thirst for knowledge, you will want to focus on finding the one that covers the topics that interest or intrigue you the most. Graphic design has a very broad scope. To help you quickly narrow down your search, we've divided graphic design books into six broad categories.


If you are fascinated by the timeline of events that has brought us to the present and how it all fits together, a graphic design book that focuses on history may be of greatest interest to you. This type of book may focus on specific individuals, pivotal innovations, and/or technology that revolutionized the industry.

Design principles

This is the broadest category, as it may focus on any number of elements. Consider these graphic design books more along the lines of “how-to” books. If you'd like to learn the fundamentals of eye-catching composition, why certain fonts are better than others, or how color can increase the depth of meaning, this is the type of graphic design book that you should consider.


This type of book is about the tools you will use. It can include a rundown of different apps or an introduction to the basic coding that may be needed for jobs involving web design. If you are already a skilled artist but want to learn about available options that can help you get the job done, a book like this would likely be a good choice.

Inspiration and thinking strategies

Artists can burn out or find themselves stuck in a going-through-the-motions phase. Books that focus on creative thinking and problem solving are structured to jump-start your imagination so you can create more robust designs.

Business elements

Many individuals may be highly gifted or knowledgeable in only the creative side of graphic design. A book that focuses on business practices can help turn those brilliant designs into a source of revenue.


If you want to know it all — everything from which font to use to how much to charge for your services — look for a graphic design book that covers all of these elements.

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Did you know?
If you are a freelance graphic designer, you will need to learn how to accurately estimate the time needed to complete a project so you can provide quotes to potential clients.

Other considerations

Once you've zeroed in on a particular focus, there are a few other elements you'll want to consider before choosing a graphic design book.


If you are an experienced graphic designer, you will quickly become annoyed by a book that speaks down to you. If you are a beginner, on the other hand, a book that assumes you already have a firm grasp of graphic design concepts and terminology may be a frustratingly hard read. The trick is to choose a book that is written for your current level of knowledge.


Some books only offer a quick wade in the waters of graphic design, while others take you on a deep dive. Look for a book that mirrors the depth of your interests.


When some people talk, they have a way of making even the mundane seem utterly fascinating. Others can take the most glorious of topics and deliver them in an excruciating manner that makes listening a matter of endurance rather than enjoyment. The tone of the writing, the personality of a book, can have the same effect: it can make reading and learning a joy or a chore.


If you are a hands-on type of learner, you will want a graphic design book that goes beyond the page. A book that offers online examples, tests, exercises, or even mock assignments might be necessary for you to get the most out of the written word.

"One of the most important skills of a graphic designer is the ability to listen to and understand what a client needs."

Graphic design book prices

Because there are hardcover, paperback, and digital books, pricing consistency can be hard to establish. For the purpose of this article, we'll target paperback versions of graphic design books.

Inexpensive: At the lower end, from about $7 to $15, you can find quick-read books — roughly 100 pages — that focus on one topic or cover a broad range in a cursory manner.

Mid-range: From roughly $15 to $25, you can find books that take a deeper dive or feature a unique perspective. These books may provide a thorough introduction or offer valuable insight into your approach or thinking strategies when it comes to graphic design.

High-end: As you move beyond $25, you're getting into books that can serve as a comprehensive guide and reference source. These books may discuss design principles, thinking strategies, creative exercises, and information on how to run a graphic design business.

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Did you know?
Individuals with a solid graphic design background have a wide variety of career options available to them. These options range from web design to film editing.

Seven traits that make a good graphic designer

Having an eye for design is only one element needed to be a successful graphic designer. Following is a list of other traits needed to excel in this field.

  • Creative: In order to fulfill assignments in a vibrant way that effectively communicates a message, a graphic designer must be able to think creatively.
  • Great communicator: In order to produce artwork that reaches people on a number of levels, a graphic designer must have excellent communication skills.
  • Problem solver: Often, a graphic designer may run into a situation that doesn't fall within the anticipated guidelines. In order to be successful, they must learn how to come up with solutions that may not be readily apparent.
  • Self-motivated: Unlike a typical 9-to-5 job that outlines clear expectations so the employee can stay on task, a graphic designer may often be left on their own without much guidance to complete an assignment.
  • Detail oriented: Getting the design right may come down to a seemingly insignificant detail like how large a particular font is. In order to be fully in control of the work, a graphic designer must be a detail-oriented individual.
  • Ability to take criticism: After spending hours or days on a project, a graphic artist may be told that the approach isn't working. They must be able to part with visions and ideas that do not align with the client's needs and continue working without taking anything personally.
  • Comfortable with technology: Often, a graphic designer will need to complete assignments from a distance. A graphic designer must not only be comfortable with the apps needed to design but also with the technology needed to telecommute.
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The type of graphic designing you do helps determine whether you should use a desktop or laptop computer for your projects. Desktop computers tend to have an edge on speed and memory capacity.


Q. Is a graphic designer an artist?
It's easiest to think of it this way: all graphic designers can be considered artists, but not all artists work in the field of graphic design.

Q. Do I need to know how to draw if I want to be a graphic designer?
Not necessarily. The key to being a great graphic designer is having a good eye. If you recognize a quality design but don’t have the ability to draw, that is okay; you can use a wide variety of apps and software to bring your ideas to life precisely as you imagine them.

Q. Do I need a degree to get a graphic design job?
Yes and no. If you want to be a full-time graphic designer who works at an advertising agency, you will more than likely need a four-year degree. However, if you are a freelancer — about 25% of graphic artists are freelancers — you may likely only need to dazzle clients with your portfolio.