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The Non-Designer's Design Book

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  3,442 ratings  ·  314 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, 191 pages
Published August 28th 2003 by Peachpit Press (first published July 1st 1994)
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4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,442 ratings  ·  314 reviews

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☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
- The Joshua Tree Epiphany;
- Very interesting explanations of the WHY of how some things matter visually and work better, ultimately;
- Some very brilliant examples that give even to me, a steadfast adversary of trend aimed at 'making all the things look pretty', a thorough appreciation of properly formated text, grafics, infografics, etc;
- Tips and tricks! Very cool!

A must read for consultants, editors and other miserable beings driven professionals tasked with endless formatting!

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
Su  Myint Myat Moe
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: design
simple and easy-to-read about fundamental concepts
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
Nelson Zagalo
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academic, art
Simple, direct and highly effective in communicating minimum rules for good graphic design.
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
m a r y l i z
Read this for my graphic design class this fall! I loved the class, and this book definitely had some great design principles. I'll be keeping this one around for reference. Nothing earth-shattering in this book; it kind of just establishes the basics. (Sometimes it was even a little too basic, honestly.)

3 stars
Kevin Ryan
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Was very informative. Learned bunches!
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Lots of actionable takeaways
Mark Feltskog
While I am certainly no expert, this does serve as a good general introduction to graphic design.
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: design, textbooks
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As a programmer becoming a web developer, I need to learn graphic skills and I read a lot of books that might help me. This is the best one so far. I really feel like I learnt something rather than got waffled at about concepts I didn't appreciate. This is a wonderful book.
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.
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.
Apr 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-physical
A little outdated but the foundation topics still remain the same.
Karthikraj Raviraj
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book, I could read in short span of time (say for 4 days). The reason is, it's so colourful and so pleasing for eye to read further. And the concept explained is so simple.For any print designers, graphic designers this is the one book to start with. But is this book only for those designers?

Absolutely No. The reason is that everyone in this corporate world are bound to make presentations. Let it be with your own bosses or to outside client or a press. Knowing some basic elemen
Michael Gaudet
This is a decent book about the basics of type faces in print media. I was expecting a more general treatment of color and “design” as described in the book’s description, even after reading the entire preview sample. My fault for not thoroughly reading the table of contents, I guess! Worst of all, this book almost entirely disregards non-print media (except for a short aside or two in the color section on RGB). If you’re like me looking for suggestions in web font choices, look somewhere else.

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
I read this for an online class on technical documentation. This book is well organized and to the point, with lots of practical takeaways and illustrative before/after examples. HOWEVER, it’s definitely for *beginners*, and if you’ve ever used InDesign in your life, you’ll be bored out of your mind. I did enjoy the little history snippets about typography design though. Pretty graphics heavy, as you can imagine, so a quick read. Wish I’d had it as a resource 10 years ago.

Also wish I could show
Ola Saqour
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book simplifies the main concepts of visual (graphic) design. It helped me a lot as a student in my first graphic design course and I recommend it for any newbie in the field. As it has a lot of examples that you can learn from, I agree with other reviewers that the book's examples are unattractive in their final form which is a flaw in my opinion, but maybe that is because the author's main focus is to deepen and strengthen the main concepts of design while keeping it simple. Finally,You c ...more
Vytas Ramanauskas
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
No matter if you're in design or not, this is an essential read which covers the main design principles - contrast, alignment, repetition, and proximity. Each one is explained in higher detail with great examples and a bit of humor.
Also, I found this book as a great cheat-sheet to learn typefaces matching. Sans serif, serif... what? It explains all of them and gets you the main idea of how to mix-and-match.
Oh, and never forget.. the CONTEXT IS KING.
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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.

“Once you can name something, you’re conscious of it. You have power over it. You’re in control. You own it.” 4 likes
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