Top 10 Graphic Design Terms Even Non-Designers/Creatives Should Know


Graphic design remains an integral part of our strategic and collaborative approach at A. Bright Idea. Graphics lingo can often overwhelm those outside of the industry. So, for this month’s Top 10 list, A. Bright Idea demystifies 10 graphic design terms.

1. White Space

White space, or the empty space within a design, allows the viewer to absorb all of the information by moving their eye throughout the layout, without being overwhelmed by content.

White Space Example

2. Typeface

A typeface consists of a series of fonts (light, bold, italic, condensed, extended) and a full range of characters, such as, numbers, letters, marks and punctuations within a design or document.

Typeface Example

3. Concept

The end result of the creative process – the concept. After going through the brainstorming, experimenting and exploration, designers execute and evaluate many concepts as potential solutions to the design problem before narrowing to a handful of solutions for the project.

4. Creative Process

There are four steps to the creative process: Preparation (research, collect data, pull from other sources of inspiration), Incubation (percolation, review material collected and brainstorm connections between thoughts and ideas), Illumination (the a-ha moment when an idea is developed) and Implementation (execution of the idea, and evaluation if it’s fits the problem). Designers use this creative process to develop ideas and solutions to all projects.

5. Vector

Vector graphics allow expansion or reduction of artwork without any loss in quality using curves, points, lines and polygons. Typical vector file formats are EPS, PDF and Ai (Adobe Illustrator).

6. Mockup

A re-creation of the original design at actual size, and sometimes on the actual paper the final piece will be printed on. Mockups show how the printed piece will fold, align and trim, and remains helpful in seeing actual image and text size. Although not color accurate, a mockup proves useful when provided to print vendors so they can ensure the final piece will match designer’s specifications.

7. Grid

The composition of a document and the arrangement of images, text, colors, graphics and illustrations on the page comprise the grid. Designers often use a grid to layout a document, in order to maintain consistent column widths and graphic alignment. This remains especially important when designing a multi-page document.

Grid Example

8. CMYK/RGB

Two different types of color mode – CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, the colors used in the four-color print process. RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue, the colors that make up the light spectrum for viewing on-screen, such as computer monitors.

9. Offset/digital

Digital printing remains best for fast, customized small-medium quantities, and offset printing best for high quality pieces at large quantities. Offset printers can print on individual sheets of paper, with a variety of papers to choose from, while digital printers are generally limited to a smaller sheet, selection and size. The clarity of a piece printed offset uses a different printing plate for each ink color. A digital press uses one high resolution file to electronically print the piece, like a copier.

10. Widow/orphan

Widows and orphans are the words or short lines at the beginning or end of a paragraph, left dangling at the top or bottom of a column, separated from the rest of the paragraph. A widow describes a paragraph-ending line that falls at the beginning of the following page/column, thus separated from the remainder of the text. An orphan can be one of two things: a paragraph-opening line appearing by itself at the bottom of a page/column; or a word, part of a word, or very short line appearing by itself at the end of a paragraph. Orphans result in too much white space between paragraphs or at the bottom of a page.

Widow/Orphan Example
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