Top Ten Offline Design Resources

Top Ten Offline Design Resources

There are hordes of online graphic design tutorials, resources and lists however we thought that to make a change, a list of top ten offline resources would be great for those who spend far too much time in front of a computer screen or for those times when, God forbid, your internet connection isn’t working!

While blogs and magazines are great for quick reference and news, they don’t offer the depth that a good old read can. Whether you are a professional and looking for a book that can give you the edge and offer the best service to your clients or a novice designer looking for guidance, these reference books can help you become a more well-rounded designer.

Offline Design Resources

Top Ten Offline Design Resources

Participate; Designing with User-Generated Content – Helen Armstrong and Zvezdana Stojmirovic

What can you do when creativity is no longer the sole territory of the creative professional? The web is overrun with amateurs using websites such as Flickr, Threadless, WordPress, and YouTube. User-driven design has never been so easy for the amateur to generate and distribute. Rather than admit defeat the author here discusses how designers can lead this new breed of amateur creatives rather than be overrun by them.

Participate; Designing with User-Generated Content

PANTONE The 20th Century in Color – Leatrice Eiseman and Keith Recker

Pantone, the worldwide authority on colour gives you a tour of 100 years of colour in the 20th century. From the Pale Gold (15-0927 TPX) and Almost Mauve (12-2103 TPX) of the 1900 Universal Exposition in Paris to the Rust (18-1248 TPX) and Midnight Navy (19-4110 TPX) of the countdown to the Millennium, the 20th century brimmed with color. This book reveals the colour trends, shifts, and resurgences of different hues. Helping you to identify colour schemes and trends for your work.

PANTONE The 20th Century in Color

Grid Systems in Graphic Design – Josef Muller-Brockmann

This is one strictly for the professionals. This is THE book to turn to when using grid systems in graphic design. Though Muller-Brockman first presented his interpretation of grid in 1961, this text is still useful today for anyone working in the latest computer-assisted design. With examples on how to work correctly at a conceptual level and exact instructions for using all of the systems (8 to 32 fields), this guidebook provides a crystal-clear framework for problem-solving.

Grid Systems in Graphic Design

Idea Index: Graphic Effects and Typographic Treatments – Jim Krause

This little reference book lists hundreds of great ideas for creatives — whether you’re a graphic designer, font designer, or web designer, or even just an amateur artist. The book is divided into two sections, Graphic Effects and Typographic Treatments. The Idea Index offers new ways of looking at shading, spacing and much more.

Idea Index

Make it Bigger – Paula Scher

Named after the familiar ‘make it bigger’ that graphic designers are used to hearing from clients, it is an appropriate title for a book that examines the graphic design industry through the eyes of the business community that it serves. Drawing on over three decades of experience, Scher provides readers with a first-hand account of the graphic design process in relation to the corporate cultures and organisational dynamics that are often resistant to creativity and change. What makes this book stand out from the others is that it focusses on the collaboration element that is absolutely vital to bring ideas to life.

Make it Bigger

Layout Index: Brochure, Web Design, Poster, Flyer, Advertising, Page Layout, Newsletter, Stationery Index – Jim Krause

It‘s little sister, Idea Index Idea started a revolution in graphic design books. Layout Index is the next step, holding a whole host of layout idea-generators that will help designers explore a wealth of possibilities for visual treatments each time they turn the page. The visual and textual suggestions are divided into eight major areas, including newsletters, flyers, posters, brochures, advertising, stationery, page layout, and Web pages. Designers will learn to solve their design problems, produce fantastic work and become better, more creative thinkers.

Layout Index

Patterns and Palette Sourcebook: A Complete Guide to Choosing the Perfect Color and Pattern in Design – Anvil Graphic Design Inc

This reference book is invaluable for art directors, designers, and students working in the fashion, product, and graphic design fields, as well as anyone in the business of visual communication.

The Pattern and Palette Sourcebook is a desktop source of colors and patterns that addresses the professional’s real-world needs when working with harmonies and contrasts. The book is divided into six sections and provides users with 15 appropriate colors for each section, which are then incorporated into 25 different patterns shown in six or eight color variations each. This allows readers to see the impact colours have in design and helps them better understand how to use color effectively. The book also demonstrates ways of creating designs that are distinctly unique from one another yet hold together in a group.

Patterns and Palette Sourcebook

Identity Crisis: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities into Successful Brands – Jeff Fisher

Everyone loves to see the before and after in any transformations, but this book is also a great resource for getting new fresh ideas for your own and to show your clients the potential in any redesign. While graphic design books are extremely popular, this book is unique in the fact that it looks at redesigning existing brand identities to achieve success.

Identity Crisis

Logo Design Workbook; A Hands-On Guide to Creating Logos – Sean Adamsn and Noreen Morioka

This handy guide focusses on what makes a logo work. In the first half of the book, readers get a step-by-step guide to the logo development process. Topics in the book involve developing a concept that communicates the right message and is appropriate for both the client and the market; defining how the long term goals of the client may affect the look and needs of a logo; choosing colours and typefaces; how to avoid common mistakes and analysing why some logos are successful and others not. The second half of the book focuses on logo case studies throughout various industries.

Logo Design Workbook

Thinking With Type – Ellen Lupton

One of the most basic challeneges facing any graphic designer today is what type of font to use and how big? How should those letters be aligned? How much spacing should be used? In this useful guide, design educator and historian, Ellen Lupton provides a clear and concise reference for anyone learning or brushing up on their typographic skills.

Thinking With Type


Each of the above books offers a unique method for mastering the subject at hand, quickly and easily, and many are filled to the brim with the experience and guidance of experts that is bound to give you the advantage over your competitors who haven´t taken the time out to seek this depth of knowledge.

Chloe Lloyd is currently working in online marketing but previously has studied French and journalism, so she always like to try and write about topics which interest her such as freelancing and design.


    • Tyler,
    • January 29, 2012
    / Reply

    Great list! I think a lot of web designers somehow assume they don’t have anything to learn by studying graphic design, or fine art. I found Thinking with Type in particular to be a great resource for web design.

    • john,
    • January 30, 2012
    / Reply

    Hello, I am a web designer myself . this is very helpful information about web designing . I
    Definitely should try it and also will be informing my designer friends

  1. / Reply

    Generally I can find a solution to any issues I may have through the internet, wether this be design or development related. Saying this, I can not resist having offline resources for inspiration, tutorials and helpful tips for both web development and design solutions. From this selection I think I will be looking into ‘Make it Bigger – Paula Scher’ which seems like it should be a good read and ‘Layout Index – Jim Krause’ for future purchases.

  2. / Reply

    Great post! Have to add one “Logo Design Love – by David Airey”, this is an excellent book for logo inspiration.

  3. / Reply

    Offline resources?

    They’re called books!

    Great selection though.

    Highly suggest Designers Don’t Read.

  4. / Reply

    I like that edition, the unique collection of these books. i really need to buy PANTONE, Make it bigger..

    thanks for sharing!!

  5. / Reply

    Thanks for including my book, “Identity Crisis!,” on your list.

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