Book Design Course

Book Design

The creation of books continues to be a vibrant area of design activity. Knowledge of book design can create many opportunities to design all kinds of books, and also improve the quality of one’s typographic work in general. This course includes basic information about book typography, grids and structures, proportions, formats and binding. We review many excellent examples of book designs and their strategies.

During this intensive course, we work on three book design prototypes:

  1. a typical text-only book, such as fiction or history
  2. a more complicated book with inherent special design needs, such as a textbook, cookbook, or how-to book
  3. an illustrated book with drawings or photographs, in which there is a need to make decisions that create a visually coherent and interesting sequence of pages.

With all of these projects, we learn about the relationship of the front and end matter to the text pages (title pages, contents, index, etc.), as well as the use of page numbers, running titles and other decorative material. We focus on pacing and rhythm, the use of white space, the typesetting of extracts, bulleted and numbered lists, and other special situations. We also discuss the relationship of the book’s cover to the design of the interior. This course has been formulated for students at any level of experience (from beginner to advanced) including graphic designers, those working in publishing, and those interested in the book arts.

RISD degree students: This course offers 3 transfer credits with pre-approval from your department head using the “Transfer Credit Prior Approval for Major/Non Major Credit” form, found on the Registrar’s Office Forms page. Submit the signed form to the Registrar’s office and then complete the online course registration.

Course #1793
Douglass Scott

Schedule A
June 21–July 27, 2021 (no class July 5)
Mondays + Tuesdays, 10 am–1 pm ET
Online, Live

Tuition $2,300
3 Credits



Douglass Scott

Douglass Scott was, until 2010, creative director at the WGBH Educational Foundation in Boston, where he had worked since 1974. He currently runs a design practice doing book and identity design, and is consulting art director for Davis Publications, an art education publisher in Worcester, Mass. Scott teaches graphic design at Yale University School of Art and at RISD, where he is a recipient of the John R. Frazier Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has given more than 200 lectures on the history of design and printing, as well as his own work, at colleges, universities and symposia. Scott's design work has won awards from the American Institute of Graphic Arts, Society of Typographic Arts, Boston Hatch Awards, New York Art Directors Club, Boston Art Directors Club, Broadcast Designers Association and Bookbuilders of Boston. Scott holds a BArch from University of Nebraska, an MFA from Yale University, and studied the history of graphic design with Louis Danziger at Harvard University.

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