Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Non-Designer's Design Book” as Want to Read:
The Non-Designer's Design Book
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Non-Designer's Design Book

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  3,032 Ratings  ·  272 Reviews
So you have a great concept and all the fancy digital tools you could possibly require—what's stopping you from creating beautiful pages? Namely the training to pull all of these elements together into a cohesive design that effectively communicates your message. Not to worry: This book is the one place you can turn to find quick, non-intimidating, excellent design help. I ...more
Paperback, Second Edition, 192 pages
Published September 7th 2003 by Peachpit Press (first published July 1st 1994)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Non-Designer's Design Book, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Non-Designer's Design Book

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Mar 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I read this book about a year ago and I’m going to complain about it first, and then rave about it.


Some of the text inside is too faint – it is actually quite difficult to read.

Some of her ‘examples’ look quite unattractive even when they are ‘finished’.


This is a very clever book. If you are visually hopeless, like myself, it talks you through what to look for in step by step, no assumptions. This is a book that explains both the four elements of visual design (I’ll get to that
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
simple and clear...
Thiago d'Evecque
Livro incrível de introdução ao design para pessoas leigas e sem nenhuma visão pra isso (eu). Tudo é tão didático que é impossível não aprender.

O principal do livro são os quatro princípios fundamentais do design: contraste, repetição, alinhamento e proximidade. Conceitos que eu não fazia ideia mas que, depois de explicados, parecem uma questão de bom senso.

A quantidade de detalhes é o bastante para conhecermos o assunto e não tornar o livro maçante, específico demais. Williams ensina sobre quai
May 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Very accessible intro for beginners. I always thought you "just have to have an eye for good design" as if it were an inborn trait... but of course there are principles you can learn, and this book strikes me as a good place to begin.

There are plenty of before-vs-after examples, which works really well for me: showing exactly how each principle can be applied.

Some of the "after" examples are still cheesy---but at least they are cleaner and more consistent than "before," and I think that's the po
Apr 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
The Non-Designer's Design Book was clearly written by a non-writer. I'm not a designer so I won't dispute the validity of what the author, Robin P. Williams, teaches. But getting through this book is just so excruciating because her writing is so amateur. She's a writer in the most basic sense of the word: she knows words and knows that sentences usually need a subject and predicate. That's about as far as her skill extends.

One of my biggest critiques is that Williams writes in a vacuum. She wri
Aug 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

This book succeeds in fulfilling its promise: educating visual novices about design and typographic principles. It's remarkable to me that this book works so well when I've seen others fall flat (I'm looking at you, Nancy Duarte!) in educating a beginner audience about design principles. It's especially impressive when you figure in the fact that this book is not very long or slickly produced. Hell, it's not even in color! But I think this is a part of Williams' success. The book's message is si
Erika Williams
Jan 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is quite possibly the best graphic design book I have read. The first part teaches you the four basic principles of design, CRAP. Or contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. It gives a clear overview of each concept and then provides examples of when it is working and when it is failing. It also asks you to actively get involved, not by pointing out all the errors, but by asking you to look for them yourself. Once the four basic principles have been detailed, it moves on to an equall ...more
Kevin Ryan
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Was very informative. Learned bunches!
Francisco Garcia
Apr 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
As a software developer I feel identified with designers. In our natural form we tend to "derail" into building something amazing and not so much into something useful or market ready.

The problem tends to be fixed with maturity, but only after lots of interactions with people having other skill sets.

This is a great book to start the foundations that a non designer should have when talking to a designer. You will learn about core issues that should be discussed, but only the very basic ones.

Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: textbooks, design
This is the best design book for non-professionals that I've come across. Williams does a fantastic job, both through text and imagery, of explaining her four basic principles for good design -- contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. Her advice can be applied to all forms of visual communication, including forms you wouldn't necessarily think of before reading this book. She didn't write more than she needs to, instead letting example images do much of the teaching.

You'll never look at
Elizabeth Rose
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The Non-Designer's Design Book is of immense practical value to anyone who doesn't have formal training in the field of design. This volume focuses on graphic design, devoting about half of the book to a study of typeface. There is enough information here to orientate someone with no concept of design (like me), but this Williams makes no pretense of this being a master class.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who lacks a degree in art, but has to make their own business cards, fliers, or b
Felipe Farias
Jan 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Is a really nice book, the way it is organized, is very didactic. It start talking about the four basic principles of design: proximity, alignment, repetition and contrast. Always using real examples. The other stage of the book is about typography, explaining in detail about types with or without serif. As the title already explains, is a book for beginners. If you are just beginning to study design, I recommend this book.
Apr 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lidos-em-2015
O livro é super legal pra quem não tem nenhuma noção de design, como eu, haha. Foi uma leitura que precisei fazer para a aula de Editoração Eletrônica, e me ajudou muito a pensar melhor na hora de diagramar as coisas.

A escrita é bem didática, bem leve e fácil de ler. E os exemplos ajudam muito a visualizar o que a autora está ensinando. Adorei o livro!
Nov 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This books proves that you don't know what you don't know until you know it! :)
I will never look at a page of print with the same eyes again.
This easy to read and humorous book taught me enough to just be dangerous with fonts and contrast and colors.
But seriously a few hours reading has immensely improved the look of the documents that I prepare for work, school and my personal stuff.
Aug 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Funny that such a great design book could have such an ugly cover. The cover on my edition is much better.

Robin's book covers the basics of design in an easy-to-read style. I've already noticed a big difference in my projects.
Jenny (rapid tortoise)
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It's a life-saver for people who, like me, are visually challenged.
I devoured this book in two days, learned about 4 basic rules and designed 2 ads which I didn't hate (and that means a lot). Definitely a keeper, will be re-reading it soon.
Mary Catelli
Jul 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction-other
A book I've found useful in designing both webpages and book covers.

Covers a great many issues in how to organize and display your material for most impact. Without reference to its content, which once or twice tweaked me as a little excessive. Particular attention paid to fonts.
Jun 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic for someone who has never read a design book in her life, like me. Incredibly practical and exactly what I needed - I often wind up designing fliers, cards, and small advertisements but I never had the slightest idea what I was doing. Now I feel mildly competent.
José Luis Sánchez
Leida la traducción al español titulada 'Diseño gráfico' editado por Anaya Multimedia. Un libro claro, ameno y que expone la materia de manera magistral.
Su  Myint Myat Moe
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: design
simple and easy-to-read about fundamental concepts
Apr 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-physical
A little outdated but the foundation topics still remain the same.
R.E.S. Tidmore
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I have read in a long time. The information I have learned is already being applied in my promotional material for writing events. I am so glad I found this book.
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A short little book that is helpful even after the first couple of pages. It explains thoroughly in a practical and useful way how to write texts, in any fashion. It's not so much about the text itself, but all about how to design your texts. What works and what not, where the author clearly defines 'works' as 'somebody is ready what you have written'.
Too often I struggle with writing reports, documents, blogs, CV's, cover letters etc. Fiddling around with fonts, colors, styles, etc. I now feel
Dana Cameron
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
A fantastic introduction and review of graphic design. I am super happy folks recommended this to me, and I will definitely recommend it to others. My own designs and layouts have already improved as I've read through this book.

I love her humor and quirkiness. Her prose is very clear and easy to follow.

Mega bonus is that she lists all of the typefaces used in the book. A great resource!

I will be checking out more of her books!
Colle Owino
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
I believe the Author gives sound advice but the way it was presented doesn't sit well with me.
Then when it comes to design there are so many different outcomes that would be just as pleasing so what happens when you try to solve the design problems she presents and end up with something completely different?
I feel that its a good read when you are just curious about design but I would recommend you look else where for wholesome design tips.
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Одна из лучших книг по дизайну, которую мне приходилось держать в своих недизайнерских руках.
Думаю, возьмусь для закрепления перечитывать ещё несколько раз.
Отличное руководство по игре со шрифтами, отступами, выравниванием, цвету и элементам.
Khai Nguyen
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: career
The book is easy to use for those who are not major in design as well as the persons who are at the beginning level in design. However, the content can be more concise and the author can resize the book into about 100 pages, not 200 pages
Liz Nicklos
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I learned a few new things that really helped!

CRAP: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity.

Indents aren't necessary with a paragraph break. If you use them, 2 spaces, not a tab.

CMYK = for print. RGB = for screen.

Hyphens for bullets = offensive!

Presteniko Rahadian
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Nice Basic principles of design!
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hobby
Clean, simple with good examples. I’m a beginner. This book was for me.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity
  • Universal Principles of Design: 100 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach Through Design
  • Before and After: How to Design Cool Stuff
  • User Interface Design for Programmers
  • The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web
  • Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning
  • The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems
  • Sketching User Experiences:  Getting the Design Right and the Right Design
  • 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People
  • Designing Web Usability
  • Designing Web Interfaces: Principles and Patterns for Rich Interactions
  • Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior
  • Designing with the Mind in Mind: Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Rules
  • The Information Design Handbook
  • Designing With Web Standards
  • Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design
  • Bulletproof Web Design: Improving flexibility and protecting against worst-case scenarios with XHTML and CSS
  • Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual

Goodreads is hiring!

If you like books and love to build cool products, we may be looking for you.
Learn more »
Robin P. Williams is an American writer of computer-related books. She is particularly known for her manuals of style The Mac is Not a Typewriter and The Non-Designer's Design Book, as well as numerous manuals for various Mac OS operating systems and applications, including The Little Mac Book.

More about Robin P. Williams...

Nonfiction Deals

  • Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival
    $8.24 $1.99
  • A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf
    $27.00 $2.99
  • Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
    $8.99 $1.99
  • A Room of One's Own
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Life in a Medieval City
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Only Thing Worth Dying For: How Eleven Green Berets Forged a New Afghanistan
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Too Close to Me: The Middle-Aged Consequences of Revealing A Child Called "It"
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Inside the Criminal Mind: Revised and Updated Edition
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error
    $9.24 $1.99
  • Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
    $13.99 $2.99
  • How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir
    $11.49 $1.99
  • Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Heart of Christianity
    $9.74 $1.99
  • Hidden Figures
    $4.09 $1.99
  • Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man
    $7.24 $1.99
  • Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures
    $11.99 $1.99
  • K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Art of Living: The Classical Mannual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness
    $10.49 $1.99
“Once you can name something, you’re conscious of it. You have power over it. You’re in control. You own it.” 0 likes
More quotes…