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Pictograms, Icons & Signs

A Guide to Information Graphics

Rayan Abdullah, Roger Hübner

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Outlines the history of the pictogram and shows how it has been applied in commercial and creative fields over the past century


Pictograms and icons are a keystone of nonverbal and multicultural communication. But what exactly are pictograms, and when is it appropriate to use them? What are their advantages? What rules must be followed, and what are the pitfalls that designers of pictograms and icons must take care to avoid?

Rayan Abdullah and Roger Hübner address these questions and scores of others in this copiously illustrated, practical guide to pictogram design. Drawing on a multitude of examples from around the world, they outline the history of the pictogram and show how it has been applied in commercial and creative fields over the past century, as well as offering invaluable hints and advice to all design practitioners.

Features include:

• Over 2,000 examples of pictograms organized by theme, including pictograms from all the Olympic Games from 1964 to 2004

• Tips and background information from successful pictogram designers, with lots of real-life examples to instruct and inspire

• A detailed discussion of icons, the ‘silent servants’ of online communities

• A chapter by Jochen Gros on his quest to create a visual language that crosses all grammatical, semantic and semiotic boundaries - to create, in effect, a ‘language without words'

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'Recommended reading for the London 2012 team'

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback with flaps

Size: 29.7 x 21.0 cm

Extent: 244 pp

Publication date: 16 October 2006

ISBN: 9780500286357

Contents List

1. The Pictogram – Definitions from Various Designers; Various Types; Semiotics and Semantics; A brief history of the Pictogram • 2. Creating Pictograms – Explores differences in format, grid, colour, line weight, degrees of stylization; the contexts in which pictograms are used; the practicalities of using pictogram fonts • 3. The Pioneers – Early influential designs • 4. Commercial Uses • 5. New Approaches • 6. Icon Variations – Computer icons: Susan Kare; Meta Design; eBoy; Michael Renner; Kame Design • 7. A Language of Icons – an entirely icon-based language designed by Jochen Gros • Endmatter

About the Author

Rayan Abdullah is Professor of Design and Typography at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig. Between 1993 and 2000 he was Senior Designer at MetaDesign, Germany’s largest design and branding company, where he was responsible for major projects for the Berlin Transport Authority,Volkswagen, Bugatti and the German Government (for whom he re-vamped the German Eagle, symbol of the Federal Government).

Roger Hübner is professor of semiotics and design at the Mediadesign University in Berlin. He is the co-author, with Rayan Abdullah, of Corporate Design.