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Glossary

11 minutes read

A

Alignment

Alignment is a fundamental principle in graphic design that involves arranging visual elements so they line up along a common edge or axis.

Analogous Colors

Analogous colors refer to a group of three or more colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel.

Aperture

In the context of graphic design, “aperture” refers to the opening or negative space within or between characters in a typeface.

Apex

The term “apex” refers to the highest point or peak of a visual element within a composition.

Arm

The term “arm” refers to the horizontal stroke extending from a stem or main stroke of a letterform, typically in letters such as “T,” “F,” and “E.”

Ascenders

In graphic design and typography, “ascenders” refer to the part of lowercase letters that extend above the x-height of a typeface.

Aspect ratio

In graphic design, “aspect ratio” refers to the proportional relationship between the width and height of an image, graphic, or screen. 


B

Backslanted

 “Backslanted” refers to a style of typeface or letterform where the characters are slanted backward, leaning to the left instead of the typical rightward slant. 

Ball Terminal

“Ball terminal” refers to a decorative element or rounded shape found at the end of a stroke or terminal of a letterform.

Baseline

 The “baseline” is an imaginary line upon which most letters in a typeface sit. 

Bleed

In graphic design, “bleed” refers to the area beyond the final trim size of a printed document or image. 

Body Copy

“Body copy” refers to the main text of a document or publication, typically used for paragraphs, articles, or blocks of content.

Bold

“Bold” refers to a typeface variant that is heavier and thicker than the regular or standard weight of the typeface.

Bowl

The “bowl” refers to the rounded, enclosed part of certain lowercase letters, such as “a,” “b,” “d,” “o,” “p,” and “q.” 

Bracket

 A “bracket” refers to a curved or angled stroke that connects the serif or terminal of a letterform to its main stem.

Brand Identity

In graphic design, “brand identity” refers to the visual elements that represent a brand and communicate its values, personality, and offerings to its audience. 


C

Calligraphy

Calligraphy is a decorative art form of handwriting characterized by skilled and expressive use of a broad-tipped instrument, brush, or other writing tool.

Cap Height

In graphic design and typography, “cap height” refers to the height of uppercase letters in a typeface. 

Centre Aligned

“Centre aligned” refers to a text alignment where the text is positioned equidistant from both the left and right margins, with each line of text centered horizontally within its containing element. 

Character

 A “character” refers to any individual letter, numeral, punctuation mark, or symbol within a typeface or font. 

Character Set

 A “character set” refers to the complete collection of characters, symbols, glyphs, and punctuation marks available within a specific typeface or font.

CMYK

In graphic design, “CMYK” stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black). 

Complementary Colors

Complementary colors are pairs of colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel.

Contrast

Contrast refers to the difference between elements in a design in terms of color, tone, texture, size, shape, or any other visual attribute.

Counter

 A “counter” refers to the partially or fully enclosed space within a letterform.

Creep

“Creep” refers to the phenomenon where inner pages of a multi-page printed document shift slightly further from the spine compared to outer pages during the binding process.

Crop Marks

Crop marks, also known as trim marks or registration marks, are thin lines or indicators printed in the margins of a document to guide the trimming or cutting process after printing. 

Crossbar

In typography and letterform design, a “crossbar” refers to the horizontal stroke that connects two strokes in a letterform, typically found in characters such as “A,” “H,” “E,” and “T.” 


D

Descenders

“Descenders” are the parts of lowercase letters that extend below the baseline. 

Display

In graphic design, “display” refers to a category of typefaces specifically designed for use in larger sizes, typically for headings, titles, signage, and other prominent design elements. 


E

Ear

An “ear” refers to the small, often decorative, stroke or serif that extends from the upper-right corner of the lowercase letter “g.”

Ellipsis

An “ellipsis” is a typographic symbol consisting of three evenly spaced dots (…) used to indicate the omission of words, a pause in speech or writing, or to create suspense or trailing off in narrative text.

Embossing & Debossing

Embossing and debossing are printing techniques used in graphic design to create raised or recessed relief patterns or images on paper or other materials. 

Extended

In typography, “extended” refers to a typeface style characterized by horizontally stretched letterforms. 


F

Foiling

Foiling, also known as foil stamping or hot stamping, is a printing technique used in graphic design to apply metallic or colored foil to a surface using heat and pressure.

Font Color

Font color refers to the color of the characters or text in a design, determined by the choice of ink or digital color applied to the typeface.

Font Size

Font size refers to the measurement of the height of characters in a typeface, typically expressed in points (pt) or pixels (px).

Font Weight

Font weight refers to the thickness or heaviness of characters in a typeface, ranging from light to ultra-bold. 


G

Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio, often represented by the Greek letter phi (φ), is a mathematical concept that describes a ratio of approximately 1:1.61803398875. 

Gradient

A gradient in graphic design refers to a gradual transition between two or more colors or shades.

Greyscale

Greyscale, also known as grayscale, refers to a range of shades from black to white, with varying degrees of brightness or intensity. 

Grid

In graphic design, a grid refers to a system of horizontal and vertical lines used to organize and structure content within a layout.


H

Hand-lettering

Hand-lettering is the art of creating custom letterforms and typography by hand, using various tools such as pens, brushes, markers, or even digital tablets.

Hard Return / Soft Return

In graphic design, a hard return and a soft return are formatting options used to control the flow and layout of text within a document or design software.

Hex

“Hex” refers to the hexadecimal color system, which is a method of specifying colors using a combination of six alphanumeric characters. 

Hierarchy

In graphic design, hierarchy refers to the organization and arrangement of visual elements within a design to convey the relative importance, emphasis, and sequence of information to the viewer. 

Hook 

A hook refers to a visual or conceptual element strategically incorporated into a design to capture the viewer’s attention and encourage further engagement with the content. 


I

Icon

 An icon is a simplified and stylized visual representation of an object, concept, or action, typically designed to be easily recognizable and intuitive to interpret. Icons are commonly used in user interfaces, signage, websites, and print materials to convey information quickly and efficiently.

Italics

In graphic design, italics refer to a style of typeface characterized by slanted and slightly cursive letterforms. 


J

Joint

A joint refers to the point where two elements meet or intersect, typically used in the context of lettering or typography to describe the connection between strokes or terminals of characters.

Justified

Justified refers to a type of text alignment where the spaces between words are adjusted to create a straight and even edge on both the left and right sides of a block of text.


K

Kerning

Kerning refers to the adjustment of space between individual characters in a word or line of text to achieve a visually pleasing and balanced appearance. 


L

Leading

Leading, pronounced as “ledd-ing,” refers to the vertical spacing between lines of text within a block or paragraph. 

Left-aligned

Left-aligned, also known as left-justified or flush left, is a text alignment option where the text is aligned along the left margin, creating a straight edge on the left side of a text block while the right side remains uneven.

Leg

The term “leg” refers to the extended portion of certain characters, typically found in lowercase letters, that descend below the baseline.

Letterpress

Letterpress is a traditional printing method that involves pressing raised or relief printing plates onto paper to transfer ink and create printed impressions. 

Ligature

A ligature in graphic design refers to the combination of two or more characters into a single glyph or typographic unit. 

Link

In graphic design, a link refers to a clickable element, typically text or an image, within a digital interface that, when activated, directs users to another location, such as a webpage, document, or specific section within a website.

Logomark

A logomark, also known as a brand symbol or logo symbol, is a distinct and recognizable graphic element or symbol used to represent a brand, company, product, or organization. 

Logotype

A logotype, often abbreviated as “logo,” is a unique typographic treatment or stylized arrangement of letters, words, or a brand name designed to represent a brand, company, product, or organization.

Lowercase

Lowercase refers to the smaller, non-capital letters in a typeface or font set. 


M

Margin

In graphic design, a margin refers to the blank space or border around the edges of a printed or digital document, layout, or page.

Masthead

 a masthead refers to the prominent section of a publication, such as a magazine, newspaper, or website, that displays the title, logo, branding elements, and other identifying information. 

Mock-up

A mock-up in graphic design refers to a scale or full-size model or representation of a design project, typically created for demonstration, presentation, or testing purposes.

Monochrome

Monochrome in graphic design refers to a color scheme or composition that uses varying shades, tones, or tints of a single color or hue. 

Monospaced

Monospaced, also known as fixed-width or non-proportional, refers to a typeface where each character occupies the same amount of horizontal space, regardless of its width.

Moodboard

A moodboard in graphic design is a visual collage or collection of images, textures, colors, typography, and other design elements assembled to convey the mood, tone, and aesthetic direction of a design project.


O

Orphan

In graphic design, an orphan refers to a single word, line, or very short paragraph that appears at the beginning or end of a column or page, separated from the rest of the text. 


P

Pantone (PMS)

Pantone Matching System (PMS), often referred to simply as Pantone, is a standardized color reproduction system used in graphic design, printing, and other industries to ensure consistent and accurate color communication.

Pilcrow

a pilcrow, also known as a paragraph mark or paragraph sign (¶), is a typographical symbol used to indicate the start of a new paragraph within a block of text.

Pixel

A pixel, short for “picture element,” is the smallest unit of display on a digital screen or image.

Placeholder Text

Placeholder text, also known as filler text or dummy text, refers to temporary text used in design layouts to simulate the appearance of real text content without actually providing meaningful information. 

Point Size

Point size refers to the measurement used to indicate the size of typefaces or fonts in graphic design and typography. 

PPI / DPI

PPI (Pixels Per Inch) and DPI (Dots Per Inch) are measurements used to describe the resolution of digital images and printed materials, respectively. 

Printer’s Proof

A printer’s proof, also known as a press proof or proof print, is a sample of a printed document or design provided by a printing company to verify the accuracy, color, and quality of the final printed output before mass production.

Palette

 A palette refers to a predetermined selection of colors used in a design project. 


Q

Quick Keys / Shortcuts

Quick keys, also known as shortcuts or keyboard shortcuts, are combinations of keys or keystrokes that perform specific actions or commands in graphic design software, allowing users to execute tasks more efficiently and quickly without relying on mouse clicks or menu navigation. 


R

Ragged Edge/Rag

A ragged edge, commonly referred to as “rag,” in graphic design, refers to the uneven or irregular alignment of text along the right or left margin of a block of text. 

Raster

Raster, in the context of graphic design, refers to a type of digital image composed of a grid of individual pixels, each containing color and brightness information.

Readability

Readability in graphic design refers to the ease with which text can be read and understood by viewers.

Repetition

Repetition, in graphic design, refers to the intentional use of recurring visual elements, such as shapes, colors, patterns, or typographic styles, throughout a design composition. 

Resolution

Resolution, in graphic design, refers to the clarity and detail of an image or digital file, typically measured in pixels per inch (PPI) or dots per inch (DPI). 

RGB

RGB, short for Red, Green, Blue, is a color model used in graphic design and digital imaging to represent colors on electronic displays such as computer monitors, televisions, and mobile devices.

Right-aligned

Right-aligned, in graphic design, refers to the alignment of text or other design elements along the right margin or edge of a layout or text block. 

Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is a fundamental principle in graphic design and photography that involves dividing an image into nine equal parts using two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines, creating a grid with four intersecting points.


S

Sans Serif

Sans Serif, derived from the French word “sans” meaning “without,” refers to a typeface style characterized by letters that do not have extending features, such as serifs, at the ends of strokes. 

Saturation

Saturation refers to the intensity or purity of a color, indicating how vivid or dull it appears.

Scale

Scale in graphic design refers to the relative size of elements within a design composition in relation to each other and the overall layout. 

Script Type

Script type, also known as script font or script typography, refers to a style of typeface characterized by flowing, cursive-like letterforms that mimic handwritten or calligraphic styles.

Serif

Serif refers to the small decorative strokes or flourishes that are added to the ends of characters in certain typeface styles. 

Shoulder

In typography, the shoulder refers to the curved stroke that connects the stem of a letterform to the curved stroke or terminal.

Skeuomorphism

Skeuomorphism refers to a design approach that incorporates digital elements that mimic real-world objects or materials, often to make interfaces or elements feel familiar and intuitive to users.

Slab Serif Type

Slab serif type, also known as slab serif fonts or square serif typefaces, is a category of typefaces characterized by thick, block-like serifs that are generally uniform in width and weight with the main strokes of the letterforms.

Stem

In typography, the stem refers to the main vertical or diagonal stroke of a letterform. 

Stock Photo

A stock photo is a pre-existing photograph that is licensed for specific uses, such as commercial or editorial purposes.

Stress

In typography, stress refers to the direction of the main diagonal strokes in letterforms, particularly in characters with angled or curved strokes.

Stroke

In graphic design, a stroke refers to the outline or path that defines the shape of a graphic element, such as a line, curve, or border. 

Style Guide

A style guide, also known as a brand style guide or brand guidelines, is a document that outlines the visual and stylistic elements used to maintain consistency in branding, design, and communication materials. 

Swash

In typography, a swash refers to an ornamental flourish or embellishment added to a letterform, typically found on characters with ascenders or descenders. 

Symmetry

Symmetry in graphic design refers to the balanced arrangement of visual elements around a central axis or point, where one side mirrors the other in size, shape, and position.

System Font

A system font refers to a typeface that is pre-installed and readily available on a computer’s operating system. 


T

Terminal

A terminal refers to the end of a stroke or a serif in a letterform. Terminals can be categorized as either “open” or “closed,” depending on whether the stroke terminates with a distinct endpoint or continues as a subtle curve or taper.

Texture

Texture in graphic design refers to the tactile quality or visual appearance of a surface, often simulated or represented through patterns, images, or effects.

Thumbnail

A thumbnail in graphic design refers to a small, low-resolution preview or representation of a larger image or design composition. 

Tittle

In typography, a tittle refers to the small dot or mark that appears above lowercase letters such as “i” and “j” in some typefaces. 

Tofu

“Tofu” refers to the phenomenon where characters or glyphs are displayed as empty rectangles or squares, often due to a lack of appropriate font support for certain languages or characters. 

Tracking

Tracking, also known as letter-spacing, refers to the adjustment of the space between characters in a block of text. 

Triadic Colors

In graphic design, triadic colors refer to a color scheme that consists of three colors equidistant from each other on the color wheel, forming an equilateral triangle. 

Type Classification

Type classification refers to the categorization of typefaces based on their shared characteristics, historical origins, and stylistic features.

Typeface Design

Typeface design, also known as font design, is the process of creating and crafting a set of characters, symbols, and glyphs that comprise a cohesive and stylistically consistent typeface. 

Typesetting

Typesetting is the process of arranging and formatting text in a visually appealing and readable manner for print or digital media. 

Type Size

Type size refers to the physical dimensions of letters, characters, and symbols within a typeface, typically measured in points (pt), pixels (px), or other relative units.

Typography

Typography refers to the art and technique of arranging type (text) in a visually appealing and effective manner.


U

Uppercase

Uppercase, also known as capital letters, refers to the set of larger alphabetic characters used in typography, typically denoted by the initial letters A, B, C, etc.


V

Vector

A vector refers to a mathematical representation of shapes, lines, and curves using geometric primitives such as points, lines, and polygons.

Vertex

In graphic design, a vertex refers to a point where two or more lines meet to form an angle or a corner. 


W

White Space

In graphic design, white space, also known as negative space, refers to the areas of a design that are intentionally left blank or unmarked.

Widows

In graphic design and typography, a widow refers to a single word, short line, or few lines of text that appear alone at the top of a column or page, separated from the rest of the paragraph or text block.


X

X-Height

X-height is a typographic term that refers to the height of the lowercase letters in a typeface, excluding ascenders and descenders.

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