AICP Certification Exam Selected Readings

The following list may help planners who are preparing to take the AICP Certification Examination. Please note that the readings are presented with these understandings:

  • No reading list can span the entire range of topics covered by the AICP exam. As a result, this list is not a substitute for professional planning experience and education.
  • It is not expected that exam takers will have read all the resources cited.
  • The readings are intended as guidelines only. While many AICP exam questions are based on these readings, many are developed from other materials of similar content.
  • Many readings are available for download on the web or in any well-stocked planning office library. Those choosing to purchase readings are encouraged to do so selectively. Consider purchases that not only help in preparing to take the exam, but also serve as long-lasting references for professional practice.
  • Due to copyright, site endorsement, and continuity issues, web links are provided only for readings available through the American Planning Association website or a government agency.
  • This reading list was last updated in August 2016 in conjunction with the AICP Certification Examination update in place starting with the May 2017 exam window.
  • Those interested in additional APA-published reading lists should consider The Essential Planning Library Revisited and 100 Essential Books of Planning.


  • American Planning Association (ed.). Planning and Urban Design Standards. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons. 2006.
  • American Planning Association (ed.) Land Use and the Constitution. Chicago: APA Planners Press. 1989.
  • Arendt, Randall G. Rural by Design (2nd ed.). Chicago: APA Planners Press. 2015.
  • Brooks, Michael. Planning Theory for Practitioners. Chicago: APA Planners Press. 2002.
  • Dandekar, Hemalata. Planner's Use of Information (2nd ed.). Chicago: APA Planners Press. 2003.
  • Daniels, Tom. Environmental Planning Handbook for Sustainable Communities and Regions (2nd ed.). Chicago: APA Planners Press. 2014.
  • Ewing, Reid, et. al. Growing Cooler. Chicago: Urban Land Institute. 2007.
  • Hack, Gary, Eugenie L. Birch, Paul H. Sedway, and Mitchell J. Silver. Local Planning: Contemporary Principles and Practice. Washington: ICMA. 2009. The latest edition of what is commonly known at the "green book," earlier editions also contain useful information.
  • Lynch, Kevin, and Gary Hack. Site Planning. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 1984.
  • Macris, Natalie. Planning in Plain English, Writing Tips for Urban and Environmental Planners. Chicago: APA Planners Press. 2000.
  • Masterson, Jamie Hicks, et. al. Planning for Community Resilience: A Handbook for Reducing Vulnerability to Disasters. Washington, D.C.: Island Press. 2014.
  • McHarg, Ian L. Design with Nature. New York: John Wiley and Sons. 1995.
  • Shoup, Donald C. The High Cost of Free Parking, Updated Edition. Chicago: APA Planners Press. 2011.
  • Weitz, Jerry. The Ethical Planning Practitioner. Chicago: APA Planners Press. 2016.

APA Policy Guides

APA's adopted policy guides provide a wealth of information regarding issues of importance to planners.

APA Planning Advisory Service (PAS) Reports

More than 90 reports on various topics have been produced by the Planning Advisory Service since 2000. While all contain information valuable to those preparing to take the AICP exam, the following are some representative examples:

APA Knowledge Center: Applied Research Reports and Guides

The Applied Research section of APA's online APA Knowledge Center contains valuable reference resources addressing a variety of topics, including these examples available under "Completed Projects":

  • Family Friendly Communities: "Using Smart Growth and Universal Design to Link the Needs of Children and the Aging Population." 2011.
  • Brownfields: "Creating Community-Based Brownfield Redevelopment Strategies." 2010.
  • Planning for Food Access: "A National Scan and Evaluation of Local Comprehensive and Sustainability Plans." 2012.
  • Arts, Culture, and Creativity: "How Arts and Cultural Strategies Create, Reinforce, and Enhance Sense of Place." 2011.
  • "The Benefits of Street-Scale Features for Walking and Biking." 2015.
  • Planning for Public Health: "Healthy Plan Making: Integrating Health into the Comprehensive Planning Process — An analysis of seven case studies and recommendations for change." 2013.

Other Resources

AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct