On Book Design

Drawing from three decades of experience on book design, Richard Hendel skillfully extracts principles of what goes on inside the book. Concise explanations, generous illustrations and inside information of how designers work make it a must-read not only for book design, but also for any publication design that aims at creating effortless reading experience, including the web.

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Graphic Design: A New History

Unlike Meggs’ History of Graphic Design, which begins with the invention of writing, Stephen J. Eskilson’s Graphic Design: A New History, skips right to the development of type and typography starting from Gutenberg to Bodoni. The introduction started off promising, but Eskilson doesn’t delve into typography as much as Megg in the rest of the chapters.

As far as I could tell, the only ‘new’ information on the history of graphic design is in chapter 10. Although I am glad to see Eskilson covering web design, I am disappointed to find out that only Flash and motion graphic go down as part of graphic design history. Who really care about the Flash-based promotional web site for Snakes on a Plane?

I have to read this book for my class on graphic design history, but I definitely recommend Meggs’ over it for clearer references and much more engaging reading experience.

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A Vietnamese Reference Grammar

A comprehensive guide for mastering the nuances of Vietnamese language. Thompson’s deep knowledge of Vietnamese is testified through his clear explanation of the differences in pronunciation between the north, central and south regions and his visual illustration of the complexity of the Vietnamese family relationships. The book’s rich contents and the brief history of Vietnamese writing system are just what I needed to move forward with my final graduate project, which should be done in 2015.

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CSS3 Layout Modules, Second Edition

Reading Rachel Andrew’s pocket guide is quickest way to catch up on the latest CSS layout techniques. The second edition comes with new examples to demonstrate the new CSS properties in action. Although they are still not ready for client projects, I’ll definitely use flexbox for this site in 2015.

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Type on Screen

Researched and written by graduate students at MICA and edited by Ellen Lupton, Type On Screen is a good overview of typography for the web, digital publishing and other screen-based technologies. With concise writing and compelling visual examples, you’ll learn a bit about the history of web fonts, hinting and designing for screen reading. The book is beautifully designed, but sadly set in chunky Akzidenz Grotesk as body text.

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Inside Paragraphs: Typographic Fundamentals

Miles Davis used to tell his musicians: “Don’t play what’s there. Play what’s not there.” In other word, pay attention to the space in between the notes. In similar concept, Cyrus Highsmith advises designers to look at the typographic space (such as glyph, counter, letter and line) rather than the text in a paragraph. The purpose is to understand what’s happening behind the scenes when setting body copy. It’s a great little book to have for quick reference.

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Detail in Typography

In a concise but insightful guide, Jost Hochuli exams the elements of micro-typography including letters, words, lines and their spacing. His brief explanation of saccades is easy to grasp. Hochuli designed the book himself using Adobe Minion for body text and Futura Bold for headings. Needless to say, it’s a beautiful little book.

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Just Enough Research

One of the intriguing challenges of being a designer is that you never know what type of projects come your way. How can you solve the users’ problem if you don’t know anything about the project yourself? This is where Erika Hall’s Just Enough Research comes in handy. From organizational to user to competitive to evaluative to quantitative, Hall has all your researches covered. Read it and apply it because “research can save you and the rest of your team a ton of time and effort.”

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Responsive Design Workflow

When I was an intern many years ago, I asked my mentor if I could watch him work in Photoshop. I was interested in his process. Reading Responsive Design Workflow is like seeing how Stephen Hay goes through his process. It’s fascinating and informative at once. Some of his workflows could definitely be incorporated into my own process, and yours as well.

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