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Graphic Design Cookbook Review

Graphic Design Cookbook, Mix & Match Recipes for Faster, Better Layouts, is the complete title. This book was first published in 1989. It is one of many of my books on desktop publishing and graphic design that have been on my bookshelf for many years. They are there for when I have a project and find myself looking at a blank page wondering where to start. They are there to inspire me with new ideas.

The book is divided into five chapters. Starting with Chapter 1, Structuring Space, includes borders and page division ideas using lines, text, shapes and a variety of other graphic elements. The last few pages show different layouts and captioning systems for comic books. Chapter 2, Orienting on the Page, consists of visuals for entry points using page numbers, letters, large and small words and their relationship with each other. Chapter 3, Text Systems, covers text blocks in column layouts as well as text included in shapes, initial caps and pull quotes. Chapter 4, Ordering Information, shows grids, layout designs, out of the box coupon shapes and "cataloging systems - systematic arrangement of small chunks of visual information." This quote was pulled from the Description of Terms located at the back of the book. Chapter 5, Pictorial Considerations, is the last chapter showing a variety of ways to manipulate images and text.

Graphic Design Cookbook is a good book to flip through to spark an idea when a blank page is staring at you. There are between eight to twelve thumbnail images on each page giving you over a thousand different drawings of design ideas. There is such a great variety of design ideas that you can look at one idea and think, I can use that and then look at another and wonder, what were they thinking?

The two authors of the book, Leonard Koren and R. Wippo Meckler both have experience in producing magazines, which becomes obvious when looking at some of their ideas presented in the book. One thing about the book is that the binding and pages are very stiff and the book is hard to hold open. Fortunately, it is mostly images with very little text to read as it was designed to browse the pages to find inspiration.

After reviewing the book which was originally published in 1989, I decided to see if it was still available to purchase. A search on Amazon showed that it is alive and well and was republished in 2001 with a new cover and claims over 100,000 copies sold. There are a lot of reviews and so I took a look at them. The reviews were either love the book or hate the book, with not too much in between. New as well as established graphic designers liked the book because it is a book to scan through for ideas when needed. The complaints were mostly that it only had images with no explanations or directions. Some felt that a lot of the layouts in the book could be found in templates included with their word processing software. My feeling is that may be so, however back in 1989, word processing software only processed text. All the extras that have been added to turn word processing into enhanced word processing where added over the years to now where page layout and design can be done using most word processing software available today.

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