21 Must-Own Books For Every Designer

Books are a necessity of all designers repertoire. Design books can provide inspiration, new knowledge, refreshing techniques, or just to pass the time and look at pretty pictures. Even though I have only been a designer for just over four years, I have still amassed a fairly decent amount of design books (the shelf on my bookshelf is currently bowing). These are the top books that I have come to own, that I find highly useful for designing everyday. Each book I would recommend to all designers. Please feel free to comment about other great books that I may have missed (or should pick up).

Logo Design Love, The Smashing Book and Logo Lounge are newly added!

Logo Design Love

David Airey’s Love Design Love is a great resource for anybody thinking about getting into Logo Design. Even if you don’t plan on designing logos, this book is still a great resource for learning about client relations, sketching, and creating successful designs. The book is very easy to read, and is well written.
Logo Design Love by David Airey

The Smashing Book

The Smashing Book is a book from Smashing Magazine about best practices in modern Web design. A different web design professional from around the web writes each of the ten chapters including: Jacob Gube (SixRevisions), Chris Spooner (Spoongraphics), David Leggett (UXBooth), and Steven Snell (VandelayDesign).
The Smashing Book

Logo Lounge

I own the first two of these books (in an ever-growing series) and enjoy flipping through them from time to time to get inspired. Each book has 2,000 logos from all around the world. They are all separated into easy to find categories, which makes scanning for a specific type of logo easy. These books are great resources for anybody that designs logos (or ever will).
Logo Lounge

A-Z Photoshop CS Essential Reference

Even though I have CS4, I still refer to this guide to brush up on Photoshop shortcuts and tricks. The CS4 version is here on Amazon if you want the newest one.


Principles of Beautiful Web Design

This is a must-own for all beginner web designers. The author explains all web basics with plenty of images and easy to understand language.


Complete Index

Whenever I am stuck for inspiration, these gems of books (3 books in one little case) provide just the answer. Whether I need general design ideas, layout ideas, or color palette ideas, these books have it all.

Design of Dissent

This controversial design book by Milton Glaser and Mirko Ilic is packed full of excellent design. The topics range from the Iraq War to ‘corporate media,’ with plenty of great design mixed in. Plus Milton Glaser is one of our times greatest designers.

CSS Mastery

Whether you are a beginner or expert web designer, this book provides tons of tricks and tips to spice up your design using only CSS. I learned something new in each chapter.

Graphic Design History

Every graphic designer must know the background of his profession. Each and every style of design today can be traced back to thousands of years ago. This books explains it all, from 35,000 year old cave paintings, to present day design.


Dreamweaver CS3 – Missing Manual

‘Missing Manual’ books are literally that, the manual that should have shipped with the product. If you own DW CS3, this is the manual for you! (or pick up the CS4 one here.

Graphic Design That Works

This book looks at examples of logos, identities, promotions, brochures, and magazine design that have proven, successful track records. It then explains why each was successful. Very useful book and knowledge to have about design.

Flash in 24 Hours

I have only begun learning Flash, but this book is proving very useful to a beginner. It splits each chapter into one hour sessions of learning, which is great for someone who wants to learn, but doesn’t have much spare time.

Editing For Designers

This book is geared more towards magazine and printed material, but nonetheless an interesting read. The author hand sketches most of the artwork showing the do’s and dont’s of print layouts. Even if you just flip through this one at the book store, you will get something out of it.


This ‘visual quickstart guide’ is a great start for anyone wanting to learn web design. This book covers all of the basics of HTML and CSS.

InDesign Type Professional Typography

Geared specifically for InDesign and print designers, this book explains how to take advanced of all of the programs great features.

Web Designers Idea Book

This book is THE source of inspiration that I come to first when I am designing a website. The author has spent countless hours separating all of the web into distinct categories, and then picking the cream of the crop sites that belong in each. I am patiently waiting for the second installment of the book (maybe this site will be in there).

JavaScript Definitive Guide

This is the standard for learning Javascript (or refreshing your knowledge). I have only begun to learn the language, but I have learned tons from the small amount of this book that I have read. Must have!

Letting Go Of The Words

I have not finished this book yet, but from what I have read, it is a must read for anybody that writes for the web. Whether you write a blog, do web design, or copy-writing work, this book will greatly increase your knowledge of web writing.

Thinking With Type

THE book for learning everything you could possibly want to learn about typography. From the history, to definitions, this book covers everything about the subject.

Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul

Goes into every tiny aspect of being a graphic designer (mainly freelance but also in-house), from picking a good partner to work with, to setting up an office. The book is a very quick read, with priceless knowledge from some of the todays top designers (it also has great interviews with some of them as well). I would recommend this book to every designer out there!

Web Design Index

There are 8 (that I know of) Web Design Index’s published, this one (number 3) being the most common one, that you will find it at most book stores. I own volumes 1-3 and each is packed full of great inspiration of amazing websites.