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Professor Sue Walker

  • Co-Director, Centre for Book Cultures and Publishing
  • Director, Lettering, Printing and Graphic Design Collections


Room D2, Typography & Graphic Communication, TOB2 (Building 21)

Building location

Whiteknights campus 

Areas of interest

My areas of interest include:

  • history, theory and practice of information design and book design
  • book design for children
  • health communication
  • Isotype, in particular Marie Neurath’s books for children and the application of Isotype principles to health communication

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome proposals for collections-based research projects about book history, graphic design and information design, and about information book design for young people.

Research centres and groups

I am Co-Director of the Centre for Book Cultures and Publishing, one of the University’s interdisciplinary research centres where with colleagues in English Literature and Modern languages research book, publishing and printing  history, and materiality of the book in a global context.

Research projects

Picturing science for children. This AHRC-funded project explored Marie Neurath’s approach to science communication and its relevance to teaching in primary schools today. As well as an exhibition at House of Illustration in 2019 and an on-line exhibition, the work included making slideshows and worksheets based on Marie Neurath’s books. This project followed on from the Isotype revisited project.

Information design for diagnostics. This is a COVID-19 Rapid Response project funded by AHRC. It brought together a cross-disciplinary team including information design and current and future diagnostic testing technology and partnership with Oxford Academic Health Sciences Network to ensure awareness of the needs of health sector stakeholders and effective communication routes.  

Information design and architecture: combating drug-resistant infection. This inter-disciplinary project brought together academics and practitioners in graphic and information design, architecture, ergonomics and human factors, and pharmacy to consider how to improve the knowledge and understanding of antimicrobial resistance. Beat Bad Bugs extended this research, working with pharmacists in Rwanda.

Funding from the University’s JAB/HIP is supporting a health communication project with colleagues from the Royal Berkshire Hospital applying collaborative co-design to communicating information about childhood constipation and adolescent pain.

A current project is a monograph about Marie Neurath’s transformation of information and book design for children, due for publication by Bloomsbury in 2025. This will be the first book that shows in detail the work of Marie Neurath and her team at the Isotype Institute in London, and their collaboration with the book-packaging company, Adprint. It will draw on material from the Otto and Marie Neurath Isotype Collection.


I started teaching (part-time) at the University of Reading in 1980, becoming Head of Department in the late 1990s until 2007, when I served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities before returning to research and teaching. My design practice is in the area of information design and book design. Throughout my career I have implemented and promoted collections-based research and teaching, which was pioneered in the Department with the renowned Lettering, Printing and Graphic Design Collections that are housed there. I served as a REF panel member for Art and Design: History, Practice, Theory in RAE 2008, REF 2014 and REF 2021. I previously served as Chair of the Information Design Association and was Director of the AHRC Centre for Doctoral Training, Design Star, from 2013 to 2020.

Academic qualifications

PhD, University of Reading

BA, University of Reading

Professional bodies/affiliations

Fellow of the Design Research Society

Elected member of Double Crown Club


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