The Elements of Graphic Design: Space, Unity, Page Architecture, and Type – Alex W. White

This is probably the best book on graphic design I’ve ever read. Usually, Graphic Designers are fairly incommunicative verbally. They will try to show you; ask you whether you “see” it or “feel” the harmony or balance or whatnot of some design. Of course, I don’t see it. If I did, I wouldn’t have to ask in the first place. Thankfully, this Alex W. White doesn’t do that. His prose is clear about every concept Graphic Designers have ever introduced me to and neglected to explain.

Majority of the book is actually devoted to the idea of Active White Space … or the unprinted portions of a page that is left intentionally blank. The author believes that while content is important, whitespace is equally important to contribute.

The book mixes the theoretical and the practical. There is the usual precepts to have 50-60 characters in a line. But there are also little gems like, “Total lack of controlled white space produces visual noise.”

I also liked, “Sequencing information is among a designer’s most essential tasks. Book designers, for example, structure their typography into title, chapter and section headings, subheading, text, and captions. Such typographic structure helps the reader scan for generalities and, at least initially, ignore details until they commit themselves to the text.”

The big turn-off for me is that the body text is set in a sans serif font. Why does he do that? I don’t know. But it is not important.

read this book!

Understanding the grammar of visual design is almost a second form of literacy in our consumer driven society.


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