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Symbol Sourcebook: An Authoritative Guide to International Graphic Symbols (Graphic Design) Paperback – 1 May 1984


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (1 May 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471288721
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471288725
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 1.9 x 27.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 466,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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From the Back Cover

"A ready reference aid and an inspiration to designers All in all the best book now available on symbols." Library Journal This unparalleled reference represents a major achievement in the field of graphic design. Famed industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss recognized the importance of symbols in communicating more quickly and effectively; for many years he and his staff collected and codified graphic symbols as they are used in all walks of life throughout the world. The result is this "dictionary" of universally used graphic symbols. Henry Dreyfuss designed this sourcebook to be as practical and easy to use as possible by arranging the symbol information within ingeniously devised sections: Basic Symbols represents a concise and highly selective grouping of symbols common to all disciplines (on–off, up–down, etc.). Disciplines provides symbols used in accommodations and travel, agriculture, architecture, business, communications, engineering, photography, sports, safety, traffic controls, and many other areas. Color lists the meanings of each of the colors in various worldwide applications and cultures. Graphic Form displays symbols from all disciplines grouped according to form (squares, circles, arrows, human figures, etc.) creating a unique way to identify a symbol out of context, as well as giving designers a frame of reference for developing new symbols. To make the sourcebook truly universal, the Table of Contents contains translations of each of the section titles and discipline areas into 17 languages in addition to English.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 Sep 2003
Format: Paperback
Four stars because a book that is involved with communication does it in such a disappointing way. The cover, text pages, bibliography and index are extremely bland. For instance, the few text pages have a line space between the paragraphs and also an indentation on the first line of each par, the bibliography is set in the same weight of type so punctuation is required, this can nearly be eliminated by using various weights of type to separate the different elements, the twenty-two page index could have been less if it was set in three columns instead of two.

However this is an important book and the symbol content rightly deserves five stars. Henry Dreyfuss started work on this project in the fifties while working for an oil-drilling equipment manufacturer, who wanted some way of communicating with workers in parts of the world where English was uncommon. Two-dimensional illustrations were developed and Dreyfuss slowly expanded the scope of the idea into this book, which presents several thousand in twenty-six categories.

The selection is very comprehensive, pages ninety and ninety-one include hobo signs with one for Cowards Will Give, To Get Rid Of You, or Free Telephone, which looks remarkably like a profile of a turkey. A fascinating four pages show Olympic symbols from the Games of 1948, 64, 68 and 72. I think 1968 are clearly the best, the designer avoided using stylised human forms and presented basic sport elements in a black rounded corner box. Throughout the book, where there is space, Dreyfuss has added sidebars on a variety of topics relating to symbol origins and usage.

To make this book as practical as possible the contents page is in eighteen languages, a good example of why Henry Dreyfuss, apart from being a great industrial designer, was also a person who never lost his humanity.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 April 2000
Format: Paperback
An amazing collection of the world's most used symbols and signs. For those who are interested in the concept of a universal form of communication through typographic pictures. It shows how truly universal and gloabally effective these symbols are by there shere visual power. A great reference book for graphic ideas and themes.
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By carol bowie on 7 Aug 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Husband loved it
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Symbol Sourcebook 16 Jun 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I just recently flipped through this book and definitely stopped me from looking for the actually book I was looking for. If you love symbols, this is it. It contains symbols from areas such as medical field to underground symbols used by hobos, which I found pretty interesting. It contains in depth symbolism of colors. Virtually all symbols that you might recognize or not are here. Check it out.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Symbols abound 23 May 2000
By tyrone - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I use Symbol Sourcebook as a bible for interpreting meaning from it's very thorough pages. It is full of insightful and seemingly rare symbols. From engineering to chemistry to any other form of language through symbol this book by Mr. Dreyfuss is astounding. It is my reference for many, many corporate identity projects.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Just keep it symbol. 14 Sep 2003
By Robin Benson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Four stars because a book that is involved with communication does it in such a disappointing way. The cover, text pages, bibliography and index are extremely bland. For instance, the few text pages have a line space between the paragraphs and also an indentation on the first line of each par, the bibliography is set in the same weight of type so punctuation is required, this can nearly be eliminated by using various weights of type to separate the different elements, the twenty-two page index could have been less if it was set in three columns instead of two.
However this is an important book and the symbol content rightly deserves five stars. Henry Dreyfuss started work on this project in the fifties while working for an oil-drilling equipment manufacturer, who wanted some way of communicating with workers in parts of the world where English was uncommon. Two-dimensional illustrations were developed and Dreyfuss slowly expanded the scope of the idea into this book, which presents several thousand in twenty-six categories.
The selection is very comprehensive, pages ninety and ninety-one include hobo signs with one for Cowards Will Give, To Get Rid Of You, or Free Telephone, which looks remarkably like a profile of a turkey. A fascinating four pages show Olympic symbols from the Games of 1948, 64, 68 and 72. I think 1968 are clearly the best, the designer avoided using stylised human forms and presented basic sport elements in a black rounded corner box. Throughout the book, where there is space, Dreyfuss has added sidebars on a variety of topics relating to symbol origins and usage.
To make this book as practical as possible the contents page is in eighteen languages, a good example of why Henry Dreyfuss, apart from being a great industrial designer, was also a person who never lost his humanity.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Must for any Interactive Designer! 4 Sep 2000
By Michael Pinto - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books on symbols by one of the best designers of the 20th Century! It includes everything from technical symbols to hobo and astrology signs. If you are an interactive designer this book will prove to be a useful tool for research for icon design.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Very good 21 Sep 2005
By Chucutrão de Comodo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It's a must have if you care for icons. Wish it was hardcover.
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