Understanding Design Jargon

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  Have you ever overheard a conversation that you know is in English, but you have no idea what the people are saying? Many jobs and niches have their own jargon that is like a secret language specific to them. Designers also have their own secret language that can be hard to understand. But understanding that language is key to being a designer and communicating with one. To help aid in your understanding of design jargon, I have created a guide below that explains some of the most common terms used by designers.

Designers also have their own secret language that can be hard to understand. But understanding that language is key to being a designer and also communicating with one. To help aid in your understanding of designer speak, I have created a guide below that explains some of the most common terms used by designers.

 

Alignment: Refers to the arrangement or position of text, images, or objects in a design. There are 4 types of alignment: left aligned, right aligned, centered, and justified. Left aligned positions text, images, or objects on the left and when it is text this leaves a ragged right margin (the lines of text don’t necessarily end at the same place). Right aligned is similar except it aligns things on the right side and leaves a ragged left margin. Centered alignment moves the lines of text or objects to be all centered underneath each other. Justified is only used for text and it spaces the words evenly to both margins.

Some alignment issues to look out for:

Orphans: a single word at the bottom of a paragraph that is all alone on a line

Widow: a word or line of text ending a previous paragraph that starts a new column or page.

Rivers: Large spaces between words that occurs with justified text

To help with alignment, set up a grid system.

Grid: series of intersecting vertical and horizontal lines used to organize and structure content on the page

 

Body Copy:  The main text of a design

 

Document Settings: Some of the settings you will come across with setting up a document

Bleed: The area outside the margin. Make sure design elements and backgrounds that you want to go to the edge of the design expand into the bleed area so that when the design is printed and trimmed to size, there won’t be any white edges.

Gutter: The inside margin in books or magazines

Margin: Guidelines in a page layout software that shows a user the body copy areas and indicates the dimensions of the design.

 

Lorem Ipsum: Also known as ‘dummy copy’, lorem ipsum is a placeholder text for when actual text isn’t available. It helps you visualize what text will look like in the space.

 

Lossless: A form of data compression where the detail is maintained and no data is lost after file downsizing. The lossless compression method is often used in TIFF and GIF formats.

 

Lossy: A form of data compression where detail is deleted as the file size is decreased. JPEG is an example of a lossy compression method.

 

Proof:  printed or digital copy of what your materials will look like.

 

Raster image: made up of individual pixels. Raster images can’t be easily enlarged without looking pixelated because you can’t add pixels to an image. Raster images are often created in programs like Photoshop and have the extension .JPEG or .GIF.

Rasterize: The transformation of a vector image to a raster image

 

Resolution: a measure of dots per inch (DPI) for printed works and pixels per inch (PPI) for digital work. If the resolution of an image is too low, the product will come out looking grainy or pixelated. The best resolution for printed images is 300 DPI while the best resolution for any web or strictly digital work is 72 PPI.

 

Vector image: made up of anchor points connected along a bezier curve (see below). Vector images can be expanded to an infinite size since the basic element of their creation is a point rather than a pixel. When vector images are enlarged, they automatically increase the relationship between the points to keep the distance or curve the same. Vector images are created in programs like Illustrator and have the file extension .EPS.

Anchor points: The basic element of a vector image. Allows the artist to manipulate the path’s shape or direction. Anchor points start the path, create the curves, and end the path. Points can also be added to or subtracted from the path.

Bezier curves: A parametric curve that represents a vector path. Bezier curves are controlled by the handles on either side of an anchor point

 

Whitespace: the space around the words and text

 

I hope this guide has helped you learn and understand some of the terms that designers use in daily conversations. Do you have any other terms you want to add or have defined? Let me know in the comments!