What’s in a cover image? How to depict planning history

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A book’s cover is frequently the first visual element of a book that a reader encounters in a library, bookshop, or—most likely now—on the Internet. Combining the publisher’s usually predetermined logo, typography and layout with an image provided by the volume editor or author, the cover aims to convey multiple meanings. These meanings are particularly important in a field such as planning history, where visuals of the associated disciplines play an important role. Spatial planning and urban design convey multi-faceted ideas through masterplans that are often illustrated with memorable images. Planning history explores these images as part of its approach and needs to pay attention to the ways in which images convey meaning. Taking the example of the selection of the cover image for the Routledge Handbook of Planning History, the article presents how five different types of images addressed specific approaches of the handbook by showcasing cross-cultural exchange, identifying key words and terms of planning history, and using comic strips, games or art work as a means of translating the multiple themes of the book. This short reflective analysis concludes by asking for more investigation of the role of images as part of the changing role of planning in society and the built environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)737-747
Number of pages11
JournalPlanning Perspectives
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • cross-cultural exchange
  • historiography
  • methodology
  • pictorial turn
  • Planning history
  • visualization

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