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The Elements of Graphic Design: Space, Unity, Page Architecture, and Type

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  308 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Approach page design in a revolutionary new way! Unlike other graphic design books, The Elements of Graphic Designreveals the secrets of successful graphic design from the unique perspective of the page’s “white space.” With the help of carefully selected examples from art, design, and architecture, the book illuminates the role of each design element and how it can be ren ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published November 1st 2002 by Allworth Press (first published January 1st 2002)
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Jay Liu Yes, in my opinion, it's perfect for a newbie autodidact. It shows examples of what to do and what not to do. As an added bonus, toward the end, it…moreYes, in my opinion, it's perfect for a newbie autodidact. It shows examples of what to do and what not to do. As an added bonus, toward the end, it has further readings as well as checklists to evaluate your own designs. Very helpful.(less)
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Apr 03, 2008 Bryan rated it it was ok
Some good info, but its buried in pages of disorganized filler. Readability is sacrificed for visual flare on each page which makes for a hard read. (Ironically, this is what White instructs designers not to do). He introduces terms without defining them until chapters later. He can't seem to decide whether he is writing a guide for beginners or his grand treatise as a designer with years of experience. Generally his tone is pedagogical and snobby.
Nov 14, 2010 Rossella rated it did not like it
If you are starting a career in graphic design this book can give you a short but effective overview of the basic principles professional designers follow in their work, and the aesthetics behind it.

But if you are simply someone that, for some reason or the other, needs to build some graphical skills, and apply what you learn to some practical work, you are going to find this book just too theoretical.

The only part which seemed to me to be a bit more down-to-earth is the last section (the fourt
May 22, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am an Educator and I found this book to be worth the time reading. I would categorize it ad an introductory book on design. Also, it is important to understand that this book is not a typical read and cannot be approached in the same way as other non fiction.

The unique layout was engaging. It gives the reader an experience with the topic. There are many examples throughout that illustrate the authors points, along with various quotes that add emphasis. There is plenty of imagery and even some
Feb 07, 2012 Tom rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As the other reviewer stated, for a book about graphic design, this book has lots of visual clutter. Sidebars, topbars (is that a thing?), and full-page examples distract from the text and obscure the point that the author is trying to make. I could barely follow the text through because my eye didn't know where to go. I'm not a graphic designer, but I felt that the layout could have been a lot better. The text was well-written, though I felt it read more like an academic paper than a textbook, ...more
Apr 12, 2008 Karen rated it liked it
My one problem with this book is that I found it hard to read--it was difficult for me to latch onto and remember the content. I think this was due to the busy, overstimulating design, which made me feel that I had to process everything at once. That said, it is a visually rewarding book with plenty of good examples. One lesson in particular that benefited me was the discussion of whitespace. Perhaps if the book design had followed through on this I would have had an easier time.
Adam Cole
Dec 10, 2011 Adam Cole rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-design
For a book about graphic design, the interior was a MESS. There was no white space, no breathing room, nothing that wasn't jam-packed with graphics and text. It was overwhelming. I'm much more enjoying Design Elements: a Graphic Style Manual. The layout is clearer, the graphics and illustrations are given more space when paired with descriptive text, and the pace of the information is better.
Manolo Frias
Good reference to learn the basic principles of design with a lot of examples. This should be a good thing but I have however mixed feelings. The reason is that every page has so many of them that sometimes it was difficult for me to either focus on the main text or on the examples. Plus, some are crammed at the top of the page and sometimes too small.
Apr 10, 2012 Robbie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Concise introductory design tips focused mostly on use of white space and typography.

I'll agree that this has a lot of visual clutter, but I think it was going for a textbooky look—which does tend to run heavy on the visual clutter. There was a bit of a "do as I say, not as I do" aspect to it.
Jan 08, 2013 A rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
The actual text portion of this book I would give 4 stars, as it is chock-full of useful information and really helps cement basic design principles. However, I'm giving it 3 stars because the structure and design of the content makes gleaning the information at times a challenge.

The content itself is pretty basic graphic design principles, how to think about them, how to use them. Size, color, proportion, white space, grids, typography, etc. While is could have been organized so there was a lit
Sep 26, 2007 Sammy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: intermediate Graphic Designers
This is probably the best book on graphic design I've ever read. Usually, Graphic Designers are fairly incommunicative verbally. They will try to show you; ask you whether you "see" it or "feel" the harmony or balance or whatnot of some design. Of course, I don't see it. If I did, I wouldn't have to ask in the first place. Thankfully, this Alex W. White doesn't do that. His prose is clear about every concept Graphic Designers have ever introduced me to and neglected to explain.

Majority of the bo
Oct 23, 2013 Marilyn marked it as unfinished  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, design
I didn't read this book cover to cover. I found it on a list of 10 books for graphic designers & got it from the library. The text seems aimed at people who design commercially (advertising, magazines). As someone interested in graphic design as a hobby I didn't find myself compelled to read all of it. At first I liked the design of the book but there are so many captions describing the images that it disrupts the flow of the information, especially since you don't know if the example images ...more
Lindsey Lockwood
Jan 04, 2015 Lindsey Lockwood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: web-design
I liked this book compared to other graphic design books I've read. I believe it gave me a good jumping off point in learning GD fundamentals. The "elements" (space, unity, page architecture, and type) didn't go as deep as I would have liked but alas their only elements. A few exercises, discussions, or even quizzes could have added more insight. I will have to find more material for further learning but at least I have a small base to start from. There are a few bits of information I could use ...more
DeAnna Knippling
Jan 14, 2012 DeAnna Knippling rated it really liked it
Okay. Book on graphic design. You expect it to be well-designed.

I'm not sure if this one was or not: maybe that was the purpose. It was incredibly informative (especially on typesetting, for some reason), but the layouts and graphics seemed to break a lot of the rules that he was trying to get across. You'd look at a page and have no idea where to start reading, there were so many text boxes on it. And yet it wasn't hard to read, or boring, or confusing--you just had to dance around a lot.

Sep 29, 2011 Dale rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, technical
Besides being a very well-designed book (as one would expect), this is a very practical and down to earth handbook for graphic designers. The emphasis throughout is on the techniques needed to convey a message, as opposed to simply satisfying a designer's desire to be different or to stand out.

This book is obviously useful for aspiring or professional graphic designers, but I think it would be useful as well for anyone putting together a website, writing a brochure, putting out a newsletter, etc
Feb 14, 2009 Alpha rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
Yet another book that I wish my coworkers would read. This is written at just about the perfect level for me, covering a broad amount of content without going too deep. It was a good overview, and definitely showed me that I could stand to learn some more about this topic. (Especially typography, which was quite fascinating. I've read a bit about typography in the past, but this presented the topic in pretty much the exact amount of detail that I wanted.)
I enjoyed the many examples presented here. I found many suggestions and the way they were presented to be disjunct. Possibly this is an attempt to meet the public where attention spans are generally short and fragmented? As film seems to bombard the senses, the reinforcing inserts seemed to impede the flow for my taste.
Apr 03, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: graphic design students and graphic designers
This is a great book for designers and students to read in order to find out what graphic design is about. Designers and students will benefit from this book, Alex brought up very good example of what space is about and why it is important in graphic design, when applying elements onto layout.
Aug 18, 2007 W.C. added it
I was going to just write a review of this book when I saw it on my shelf, but an hour later I'm done reading it through again. In a long tradition of books about graphic design being overly stylized and self-indulgent, this is a mediaful fun-fest of knowledge and artsy-fartsy discovery.
Dec 29, 2008 Charles rated it liked it
Shelves: design
This book will make you more cool in a Bauhaus, European, wear-lots-of-black, visual arts sort of way.

Or maybe it will help see the world anew... ordered and chaotic.

At the very least, you'll learn a lot about the power of active white space in graphic design.

Aug 10, 2013 Natasha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Excellent images accompanied the principles described. Well designed and well written text. Very useful beginner's book on design principles.
Apr 12, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: design
Read this book 3 times... Can't wait to get my copy. Really go with learning the basics... Read it in school.
Douglas Fenstermacher
Great for developing a foundational understanding of graphic design
Claire Botman
Apr 05, 2013 Claire Botman rated it really liked it
very useful set of checklists at the end
Nov 02, 2007 lindn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: design
Great reference book!
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