How to design a book: the creative's guide

We all know the unspoken rule is you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Indeed, in terms of design thinking, there’s a hell of a lot more to creating a beautiful, legible book than what’s on the outside. The principles of layout, type selection and use of imagery are complex; the role of a book designer holds much more than meets the casual reader’s eye.

As with any creative project, there are no hard and fast rules for designing a book, but there are a few basic principles that designers adhere to. Again though, such rules are often there to be broken: legibility seems like an obvious one, but with more conceptual art books, for instance, sometimes you can get away with type and layout that challenge the reader to look as much as to read; images can be layered and morphed and chopped and screwed around with; stories can be told in traditional, linear formats, or as post-modern, nonlinear modes of expression.

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Emily Gosling

Emily Gosling is a freelance art and design journalist currently writing for titles including Creative Review, Eye on Design, Creative Boom and People of Print. She’s previously worked at Elephant magazine, It’s Nice That and Design Week, and was editor of Type Notes magazine. Her book Creative Minds Don’t Think Alike was published by Ilex Press in 2018, and she also plays bass as one-quarter of the eight-titted beast, Superstation Twatville.