Subtitled Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice
, this book is for anyone who has to design a newsletter, job ad, flyer, business card, memo, report or whatever, but has no idea what separates good design from bad. Except, of course, that the first looks clear, professional, sophisticated and right, and the second is an ugly, unreadable mess.
Robin Williams has an easily readable style and manages to communicate sometimes complex and sophisticated concepts simply and directly. She rightly assumes that, though most people can recognise bad design when they see it, they don't know why it's bad and are therefore powerless to fix the same problems in their own work.
The bulk of the book is given over to explaining how, by sticking to four basic design principles--contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity--you can eliminate design gremlins from your work. In searching for a memorable and appropriate acronym for this principled approach, Williams admits she was only semi-successful.
The second half of the book deals with how to use type. Once again the approach is to explain simply, directly and with illustrated examples how the relationship between typefaces is defined.
As a college teacher, Williams can't resist the temptation to dot little quizzes, tests and mini-projects throughout the text. These are mostly good fun and reinforce what you've read, though even if you decide to ignore them they won't spoil your enjoyment of the book.
The Non-Designer's Design Book is the kind of book you could read in your lunch break. Its attitude is more "sketch in the margin with a pencil", than "complete the projects on the CD". It would be an ideal primer for anyone starting a design course, as well as those who want to improve the look of their memos. --Ken McMahon
Robin Williams wrote this one for people who now need to design pages but have not background or formal training in design. Follow her basic principles and your work is guaranteed to look more professional. organized, unified, and interesting. Witty and easy to read, this book is full of practical information, exercises, and quizzes that ensure you'll never look at a page in the same way again.