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21-08-2020

An A to Z Guide to Graphic Design

“Design is the body language of your marketing. Don’t slouch.” - Mark King 

The world of graphic design is ever-evolving and responding to changes in the way we live and consume messaging. So we've put together a handy glossary of terms and phrases to keep us all up to speed. Thanks to our brand team for pulling together this cracking guide! 

 

A

Art Direction 
Art Direction brings clarity and and helps to structure projects. It involves making decisions on colour schemes, photography style and language.

Advertising
Graphic Design is a tool that is often used in advertising. Combining striking words with shrewd images is how the magic happens.

Adobe Creative Cloud
The full software package which allows designers to create and execute all their ideas on screen. 

B

Baseline
Invisible line upon which letters ‘sit’.

Brand
As in advertising, Graphic Design is used to create powerful brands, and to assist those brands in visually communicating their story.

Brief
Every project starts with a brief. This outlines what the client requires and provides a starting point for the designer to think about how to respond to the task.

Brainstorm
Group discussion between designers, creatives, account managers and other team members to produce ideas and solve problems.

C 

CMYK
Colour profile for printed documents consisting of cyan, magenta, yellow and black (see process colour).

Critique
An integral part of every design project to make sure the brief is met and executed to the highest possible standard.

Condensed typefaces
Fonts that have a set-width which is narrower than the standard typeface. 

Checks
Check the requirements, the colour profile, the spelling, file formats and links. And when you think you’ve finished checking, check it all over again. 

Cap height
The height of a capital letter.

D 

Drawing
The best way to get a feel of a rudimentary idea is to sketch it out. 

Digital print
Cost-effective and quick professional printing method for small print runs. 

Debossing
A method of applying a recessed relief image on your high-end printed piece (see embossing).

Decorative typefaces
Intrigued typefaces that allow designers to enliven their designs. Often appropriate to use in titles and headlines.

E

Embossing
Creating a raised relief image. The opposite of debossing. 

Extended typefaces
Fonts that have a set-width which is wider than the standard typeface. Extended typefaces often have a masculine and industrial feel. 

F

Fonts
Specific members of typeface families such as regular, medium, bold or heavy. 

Foil blocking (or hot foil stamping)
Process of hot stamping a metallic or pigment foil on paper or card to create a high-end print finish.

G

Guidelines 
Guidelines ensure every designer is working to the correct specifications. This means there will be a uniformity in the style. Consistency in design is everything.

Gloss
Coated paper type with a shiny finish.

Grid systems
Set system on how to position graphic elements in a layout for print or digital output. 

Glyphs
Specific shape, design or representation of a character. 

Greyscale
Colour palette that only uses shades of black and white. 

H

Hierarchy
Process of arranging visual information to create a sense of order and importance in a layout.   

Hand-lettering
Art of drawing letters individually by hand to achieve organic letterforms. 

Hard-copy proofs
Single sample copies which printers provide to the designer for them to check the colour and layout before authorising a full print run. 

I

Imagination
Ability to conjure, create and produce fresh ideas. 

Illustration
Visual representation of a story. 

Icon
Graphic symbol to represent an action, function or general context.

Italics
Forward slanting letters.

 J

Job Numbers
Every project is allocated a unique number. Job numbers are crucial for locating old artwork and keeping everything in order.

Justification
Justified type

JPG / JPEG 
File type

Jogger 
Vibrating, sloping platform that evens up the edges of stacks of paper.

K

Kerning 
Adjusting the spacing between individual letters. 

L

Lithographic print
Traditional printing method dating back to 1796 that uses wet ink and individual plates to press graphics on to paper. Cost effective choice for large print runs.

Leading
The space between each line of text. 

Lorem Ipsum
Placeholder text used in place of finalised content (sometimes referred to as 'greek'). 

M

Monochrome
Design or photograph that appears in a single colour, or in shades of the single colour.

Masthead
Title design of a publication.

N

Notes
Note down your deadline, deliverables, format, requests, contacts and more. The list can be endless but it helps to manage your time and workload. 

O

Orphan
A single word at the end of a paragraph, separated from the body copy text (see also 'Widow').

P

Pantone
Standardised colour matching system.

Pagination
The process of dividing a document into sections that has an appealing visual flow. 

Photography
Combining impactful images with bold statements is the key to achieving powerful visual communication. 

Process colour
Print process that uses a combination of four standard process inks (see CMYK).

Perfect bound
Binding method for a book or brochure which uses glue on the spine. 

Q

Questions
Asking questions is important at every step of a design project. Query everything to make sure you have understood and executed the brief correctly. 

 R

RGB
Red, green and blue is the colour profile used for digital outputs. 

Resolution
The number of pixels in a photograph. The more pixels there are, the sharper the image is.

S

Serif
Fonts with strokes or curves at the end of letters. 

Slab-serif
Fonts that feature geometric and bold serifs.

Sans-serif
Fonts without strokes or curves at the end of letters. 

Script
Fonts that are based on handwriting.

Saddle-stitch 
A common method to bind a book or brochure by stapling through the fold. 

Scale
From pencils to billboards, consideration to scale is at the heart of design to ensure visibility and legibility. 

Soft-copy proofs
Electronic proofs which printers provide to the designer for approval before the designer authorises a full print run. 

Spell check
An important step in any project is to ensure the correct spelling and grammar. 

Silk
Soft-feel paper made by binding silk fibres together with wood pulp, with a finish that is between matt and gloss. 

Spot colour
Solid colour that is created using pure or mixed ink.

T

Tracking
Adjusting the spacing uniformly over a range of characters.

Typeface
Characters of a particular type design.

Typography
Technique of arranging text.

UX/UI
Graphic Design is also used when designing user experience and user interface applications.

UV Varnish
High gloss coating that is cured with ultraviolet radiation to create a high-end print finish.  

Uncoated
A pure matt paper that has no extra coating or finishing.

V

Vector
Image made of points, lines and curves. Vector image can be scaled to any size without losing quality. 

W

Widow
A paragraph-ending line that falls at the beginning of the following page or column (see also 'Orphan').

White space
Negative space that is left blank on the design.

Wet proofs
Printed proofs from the printer

X

X-height
The height of a lower case letter. 

Xyron Machine
An alternative to using spray glue, this machine uses rolls of sticky back plastic which coated one side of paper. 

Y

Yellowing
The discoloration of white paper primarily due to aging, also called brightness reversion.

Z

Z-fold
term for two or more parallel folds that open like an accordion, sometimes referred to as an accordion fold. Leaflets and maps often use these folds.

Zip drive
Blast from the past old disk format - same size as a floppy disk but held 100meg, later 250meg!

 

Our brand team is made up of some of the best creative minds in the country* and are raring to go! If you need some graphic design magic sprinkled over your project, give us a call and let's grab a socially distanced or virtual coffee!

*totally unbiased view

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