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Graphic design terms – how many do you know?

If you are about to work with a design agency you may find it useful to be aware of some of the design terminology you will come across in your discussions with the various designers you will speak to. I’ll try and keep this simple but it should help. Of course if you decide you need help with your design project you know who to ask.

Alignment
Nothing to do with horoscopes and the planets. This refers to the positioning of graphics and type on your layout. You may have heard of  ‘centre aligned’. This is where a paragraph has the type aligned in the centre with the edges being uneven. If you align type to the left or right it is called ‘ranged left’ or ‘ranged right’. We do not refer to this as aligned left or right.

Artwork
You won’t find a pile of bricks here. This is the finished piece of design work that will be used by a printer to print from. It can be supplied in eps, pdf, or as an original file from the various software used to create design. It should be in CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) yes I know black does not start with K. K is used because it is a ‘key’ plate which adds definition to printed images with black.

Ascender
No, not the stairway to heaven. This is the part of a lower case character which rises above the main part of itself. For example a ‘b’.

Banner
This could be the person who bans people, but it isn’t. This an be called a Banner Headline. It is the large title block you see on newspapers and magazines, the large red block on top of The Sun for example. It can also be the large printed sheet of vinyl used at events as a large poster.

Baseline
We all know the white back line on a tennis court but this isn’t it. The invisible guideline that all type and fonts sit on keeping them straight for easy legibility.

Binding
No. not a legal contract. This is the method of holding several pages together in a book form. There are several methods including saddle stitched and perfect binding with gum. Most catalogues and brochures are perfect bound.

Bitmap
If you had a map and tore a little bit off it… no. This is what actually makes up the image you see on screen. Every single mark of every font or image is made up of thousands of bitmaps.

Bleed
If you have just been punched in the nose you should avoid doing any artwork. This is what you add to artwork if you are printing an image that goes right to the edge of a page. It is very difficult for printers to print exactly on an edge of paper, so we make it easier by taking the image right over the edge by a few millimetres. This allows them to trim the page within a tolerance of several mm and have the image cut off right on the edge of the page.

Body copy
This is not the act of doing a 3D copy of yourself.. This is the bulk part of your copy. The large sections of paragraphs that will have most of your information in your documents.

Cap Height
This could be the height from the bottom of a bottle to the top, but it isn’t. This is fairly explanatory. It is the total height of characters in capitalised form (B).

Character
Happy or sad, annoying or nice. This refers to any single number, comma, or letter.

CMYK
No, this isn’t a four letter Russian word. This is process colour. It is what printers use to print every document with photographs. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key for black.

Coated paper
This could be paper ready for a cold night out but sadly it is not. Paper which has a coating to enable it to hold ink better.

Colour match
Not something a person who is colour blind will find easy. This is key with any artwork. It gives a printer the correct colour reference to enable them to print your document in the correct colour.

Crop marks
A little different to crop circles, these are the little marks we put onto artwork to give a printer a guide for trimming.

Cutter guide
Not a lawn mower instruction booklet. This is the cutting shape that printers use to create odd shapes out of paper before assembling them into a finished object.

Descender
This is not a pot holer.  This the part of a character that sticks further down from its main character body (g) for example.

Desktop
This is in front and to the side of you. It is where your keyboard and cup of coffee sits. It is also the main part of your computer screen where all of our icons are.

DPI
No, this isn’t your local police inspector. This is dots per inch. It is vital in high resolution printing that artwork and images are 300 dpi. This stores sufficient pixels in the image and artwork to look crisp. If there are not enough (low res) the image will look jagged and bitmapped. Websites only need 72dpi resolution as screen are made at 72 dpi.

EPS
No this is not some psychic power. It stands for embedded post script. It is one of the most commonly used graphic file formats in the design and publishing industry.

Facing pages
This could be two little church boys at a wedding, but is not. This is when a layout is designed as a spread. When it has two facing pages together.

Folio
No, this isn’t a small Italian pony. This generally refers to the page number which appears at the bottom of a page. It can also be a sheet of paper folded once and a name for a book.

Font
This is the water holding thing at the front of a church. No, they use a different thing.

Footnote
This is the bit of information that appears at the bottom on every page of a document as opposed to something written on your shoe.

Gutter
This is the gap that exists between columns of type. It’s not where you find a drunk.

Hard copy
This is the paper version of your design or artwork that you can actually hold physically. Even though it is quite soft it is called hard. The soft proof is on your screen.

Hyphenation
This is not when you hide in a warm place over winter. It is also when a long word is split with a hyphen because it won’t fit onto a line. Some designers love it and other hate it.

Justification
This is when you have done something bad but had a reason for doing it. No it isn’t. It is when type in a block aligns vertically on both sides.

Kerning
This is not an olympic sport played on ice. It can also be the adjustment of space between characters in typography.

Laminating
No, this isn’t when lambs are born. This is the process of covering an item with a plastic covering to protect it.

Landscape
This is the area of the earth outside your house or office. It is also an obese piece of paper that is wider than it is tall.

Leading
This is used on your house windows to give them a more attractive look. Designers know this as the space between lines of type.

Low resolution
This is an image used on websites at 72 dpi. High resolution is 300 dpi. It could also be a council committee agreement made under the table.

Margin
This is not what you say when Marge is at home. This is the area of white space around a page. It allows the information on a page to breathe and be easily taken in.

Negative space
This is not when space is constantly saying bad things to people. Designers refer to it as the space not occupied by an image.

Pantone
This s not the colour of your pan. This is also a colour matching system that is used globally as the de-facto colour reference guide for designers and printers.

Point
Not the raising of a hand accompanied by the sticking out of the forefinger.
It is also the measurement unit for typefaces. There are 72 points in an inch (2.54cm)

Portrait
No, not the Mona Lisa. This is also the paper format where the paper is taller than it is wide.

Primary colours
These are not the colours used at your first school. These are the colours that are not formed by other colours being mixed. Red, blue and yellow are primary colours. All other colours come from mixing these three together. Red/blue makes purple. Red/yellow makes orange. Blue/yellow makes green.

Proof
It may be in the pudding and the eating but it is also the document you will be given to check the visual design is what you are looking for from your designer.

Ragged
Being ragged could mean an assortment of things but in our case it describes the shape of a paragraph when it is not aligned or justified.

Registration marks
These are not brownie points for getting to class early. We use these in print to show when all four colours (CMYK) have been printed directly on top of each other which they should have been.

Resolution
This is not a group of people rebelling against authority. We use this for image size. High resolution for print needs to be 300dpi. The resolution of images for the internet is only 72dpi as screens are only 72dpi so we cannot see any benefit form anything in high resolution.

RGB
No, not the Russian security service. Computer screens and TVs show pictures in RGB (red, green, blue). They use a different system to that of CMYK in print.

River
This is not the liquid commonly seen flowing down large hills and mountains. Also seen flowing through pages of copy where typographic adjustments have not been made. This results in distracting white rivers running across the page.

Runaround
No, not the action of trying to catch misbehaving children. This is when copy is shaped around an image. If the image or graphic is an odd shape it can be quite challenging to get the copy to work well together with it.

Sans serif
Not when your town is out of control without any law and order. It also represents the style of typeface that has no serif. The serif is the little line that characters have like in the font Times. Helvetica and Arial are good examples of sans serif typefaces.

Spread
Not the stuff you put on your toast. It is the description given to two pages together in a magazine.

TIFF
This isn’t when you and your partner fall . It stands for ‘tagged image file format’. They are as common as eps files.

Typeface
No, not what you have if someone writes words on your cheeks. This refers to all type styles and fonts used in the graphics and publishing industry.

Typography
This is not the study of ties. It’s the art of using type in a stylish and considered way to be eye catching but also legible and functional. Designers should all have excellent typography skills.

UV coating
This is not something you wear. A liquid coat applied to a printed document to give it a glossy look in a specific place.

Watermark
No, not the mark left after a muddy bath. The graphic mark in paper which is created during manufacture.

White space
Not the white squares on a chess board. Clients hate it – designers love it. This is the area on the paper that is strategically left so that the wording or images on the page get the readers full attention without any distraction.

This is a sad section. When little words or characters are left on their own at the end of lines in copy so they look lonely and lost. They may even be crying. We call them a widow or orphan and do our best to get them back to their loved ones.

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