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Design Jargon  OB9 Words


Design words — esoteric design jargon needs explaining.

Below is an alphabetical list of Design-related words, which began as a word of the day post on twitter. You can follow our tweets, or you can use this page to refer back to as a resource.

*Special thanks to the many blogs, dictionaries, and tech websites out there who helped with the defining of these words.

Click on a letter to jump to that section of the dictionary.




Above the Fold

əˈbəv T͟Hē fōld : The content on the top half of a newspaper front page or the content viewable on a website without having to scroll down. Deemed by editors/designers as the most important content: it’s the first thing the viewer will see and therefore must get to the point and draw people in. In reality, people DO judge a book by the cover, or a newspaper by the front page, and won’t read it if the above the fold content is uninteresting.


Web accessibility means the Web is designed so people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with it effectively, as well as create and contribute content.


Adobe Acrobat

əˈdōbē ˈakrəˌbat : noun : Software for viewing and printing files in Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF), which was created so users can read documents without having the particular program or fonts used to create it.



a•i : abbreviation : The native file format of Illustrator, the vector graphics creation software from Adobe. Most logos are created in this program or its equivalent.

Alpha Site

alfə sīt : noun : The preliminary showing of a website to a client to get approval on the style and functionality. Only a few pages are built.


The softening of a screen font by blurring the edges, so as to avoid a pixelated or harsh look – especially at larger point sizes.

Artist Block

Similar to writer’s block, an occurrence in which one loses inspiration and motivation to draw, paint, or create art of any kind. See this youtube video on 10 ways to overcome an artist block.


əˈsɛndə : noun : In typography, The vertical stem of a lowercase letter that extends above the x-height. This increases the recognizability of words. The ascenders are highlighted in yellow. Also see: X-height.






bandˌwidTH : noun : A volume of information per unit of time that a transmission medium can handle. Basically, how much data you can send through a network or modem connection. Think of it like a highway. The more lanes on the highway, the faster the cars can go through to where they need to go. The bigger the bandwidth, the faster the connection.

Beta Site

bātə sīt : noun : The prelaunch showing of a website to a client where most of the copy is put in and only a few tweaks need to happen before launch.


bitˌmap : noun : A type of memory organization or image file format (.BMP) used to store digital images. The term bitmap comes from the computer programming terminology, meaning just a map of bits. Similarly, most other image file formats, such as JPEG, TIFF, PNG, and GIF, also store bitmap images (as opposed to vector graphics), but they are not usually referred to as bitmaps, since they use compressed formats.


blēd : noun : In printing, when any element, such as a photo or background color, on a page extends beyond the edge of the page leaving no margin.

Blind embossing

A type of embossing where no ink is used. The design or text is only visible as a raised area. Also see: emboss.


In printing, a sticking together of printed sheets causing damage when the surfaces are separated.

Block Level Element

Any element in HTML which is intended to be a section such as paragraphs, block quotes, or lists. All start on a new line.


bo͝okˌmärk : noun or verb : A record of the address of a file, Web page, or other data for quick access by a user. All modern web browsers include bookmark features. They are found either through the menu of a web browser or on a bar added to the top of your browser. Bookmarks are useful for quick access to sites accessed frequently. Chrome supports bookmark syncing so you can access your bookmarks no matter what computer you’re using.

Adobe Bridge

The photo management software application from Adobe Systems software, in the creative suite. Allows different programs in the suite to communicate with each other even with different file types. Was created to speed up workflows and organize files.

Brochure Site

brōˈSHo͝or sīt : noun : A static website with only a few pages and not much interactive content. Basically, a brochure for the web.

(Web) Browser

brou•zər : noun : A program with a graphical user interface for displaying HTML files (pages on the internet), used to navigate the World Wide Web. Popular browsers include: Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Firefox. To read about browser wars visit how to geek.


Abbreviation for binary term, a unit of storage capable of holding a single character. On almost all modern computers, a byte is equal to 8 bits. Large amounts of memory are indicated in terms of kilobytes (1,024 bytes), megabytes (1,048,576 bytes), and gigabytes (1,073,741,824 bytes).





Camera Raw

Raw is a shooting mode in DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras. A raw file is merely unprocessed and uncompressed image data until it is opened with a computer program, manipulated with software, and saved out as an image file with a file extension such as .jpg or .gif. A benefit of shooting RAW is that you retain your uncompressed photos without any loss of quality.


katəˌgôrē : noun : In wordpress, a category groups your related blog posts together. Categories quickly tell readers what a post is about, and at least one category must be assigned per post. They can be hierarchically organized. To learn more about WordPress Categories go to the category support page.

Centered text

The process or result of spacing text so it is centered in the middle of the column with even margins on both sides. This is opposed to justified type. Centered type is usually used in headlines and short phrases.


Purity or intensity of color. Color saturation.



An Internet browser developed by Google Inc. Has innovative features like combining the web address bar and search box into one field.


C•M•S or Content Management System : abbreviation, noun : A tool for managing content usually on the web, that separates design, interactivity, and content from one another to make it easier to update. Some perks to using a CMS: Allows multiple people to contribute to and share stored data, permissions can vary from user to user, eliminates the need for duplicate content.


C•M•Y•K : abbreviation : CMYK refers to the four inks used in some color printing: cyan, magenta, yellow, & black. Most standard printers use this color model. This is also known as a process color.


To sort multiple copies of printed documents into sequences of individual page order, one sequence for each copy, especially before binding.

Color Run

When printing an image that has more than one color, depending on the method of printing, it is necessary to print the image one separate time for each separate color. Each one is called a “color run,” and they can be pulled from the same surface, inked differently, or from a completely different surface.

Color Sequence

The order in which inks are printed. Also called laydown sequence and rotation.


The process by which data is compressed into a form that minimizes the space required to store or transmit it.


Short for comprehensive artwork or composite. This is the step after thumbnails in the creative process, the “first draft” of design. This is usually where the designs are taken into the computer and the details such as backgrounds, color schemes and images are more thoroughly worked out.


ko͝okē : noun: Text files that a web server can store on a user’s computer. They can be used for authentication, site preferences, shopping cart etc. A cookie cannot replicate itself and therefore is not a virus, but they can be used as spyware. Cookies provide security and privacy by removing your information from a web’s site server and storing it locally on your machine.


ˈkäpē : noun : Copy refers to written material – in contrast to photos or layout elements – in a wide range of settings: magazines, advertising, book publishing etc.

Crop Marks

kräp marks : noun : Small lines on a printed piece such as a poster or brochure that indicate where it should be trimmed for a full bleed.


C•S•S : abbreviation : Stands for Cascading Style Sheets. A style sheet language used to describe the presentation semantics (the look and formatting) of a document written in a markup language. Designed primarily to enable the separation of document content (such as HTML) from document presentation (such as color, font choice, layout and more).





Database Server

A fancy name for a computer that is holding a database (or data).


dih-baws : verb : In printing, when an image is depressed into a material such as paper or leather so the image sits below the product surface.


diˈsendər : noun : In typography, The vertical stem of a lowercase letter that extends below the level of its base. The descenders are highlighted in yellow. Also see: ascender.

Digital Printing

All printed output from a computer is technically digital. However, the term refers more to printing finished pages for brochures and booklets from the computer rather than using an offset printing press and commercial printer. Although digital printer systems do not compete with high-speed newspaper and magazine presses, it is expected that these “analog” monsters will become all digital in time.

Digital Proof

A color prepress proofing method where a job is printed from the digital file (not using film) such as an inkjet printer. Generally less expensive than prepress proofs, it is used for content approval only. Also known as: dry proof, off-press proof, digital CMYK proof. Can also be delivered electronically via PDF.


D•N•S : abbreviation : Domain Name System. Translates Internet domain & host names (the names we type in our address bar such as into IP addresses.

Dot gain

An increase in size of each dot of ink when printed. Causes include: ink absorbing into the paper, ink spreading out onto the paper, circumferential ink “rimming”, and halation at any stage in exposure. This can muddy and darken the printed image.


A web site authoring program from Adobe making it possible for beginners to create and edit web pages without actually knowing HTML.



D•P•I : abbreviation : Dots per inch. A measurement of output device resolution and quality. Measures the number of dots a printer can print per square inch. A 600 dpi printer can print 360,000 (600 x 600) dots on one square inch of paper. A high DPI results in greater image detail for printing purposes, but it also means larger file sizes and memory usage.

Drop cap

noun : A letter at the beginning of a paragraph that is larger and usually more ornate – they are works of art in and of themselves. It is called a drop cap because it “drops” into the lines of text below. Check out this wonderful website by Jessica Hische which just finished posting it’s 12th alphabet of drop caps.


dəmē : noun : Also called a prototype, comp, or mock-up. A physical mock up of a book or the layout of a page used to show finished size, shape, page layout, paper type, and binding.


d(y)o͞oəˌtōn : noun : A process for producing halftone illustrations using two shades of a single color or black and a color.


d(y)o͞opleks : adjective: A printer capable of printing on both sides of the paper. Print devices without this capability are sometimes called simplex.






emˈbôs : verb: To press an image into paper so it lies above the surface to create a 3D image. There are two types of embossing, heat and dry embossing. Heat embossing is done using special powder, ink, and a heat source. Dry embossing uses a stylus and stencil. Often used on cards and wedding invitations. Also called cameo and tool.

En Space

A measure of space that changes with the size of the type. It is half as wide as the current point size (typically as wide as the letter n in many fonts.) So an en would be 6 points in a 12 point typeface. Half of an em space.

Em Space

An em space is a fixed amount of blank space equivalent to the type size – 12 points in a 12 point typeface, 11 points in an 11 point typeface and so on. It gets it’s name from the width of a capital M. Em spaces are used for paragraph indents and bulleted item indents.


Stands for Encapsulated Post Script. A vector file format more print friendly & with fewer restrictions than a .ai (illustrator native) file.


To send data from one program to another. To form data in such a way that it can be ready by another application. eg: “Moe, could you export that inDesign file to a PDF?”






fāvəˌkän : noun: A small “favorites icon” associated with a url. Showing up in browser’s address bar or next to the site name in a bookmark list. The Favicon for openbox9 is featured on the left.

File Server

A computer and storage device dedicated to mass storage of files. Any user on the network (LAN) can store files on the server. A file server can be dedicated (only performs network management functions) or non-dedicated (where user applications can co-exist while the network is available.

Adobe Flash

A multimedia platform used to add animation, video, and interactivity to Web pages- also used for animated ads.


Foil Stamping

Foil stamping is a specialty printing process that uses heat, pressure, metal dies and foil film. The foil comes in rolls in a wide assortment of colors, finishes, and optical effects. Pros: Foil is an opaque medium and can achieve a shiny, lustrous finish that thermography, lithography and letterpress cannot.


  • The actual page number in a publication
  • A sheet of paper folded once to form two leaves (four pages) of a book
  • An individual leaf of paper or parchment, numbered on the front side only, occurring either loose as one of a series or forming part of a bound volume


Historically different than a typeface. Was understood to be a complete set of type of one specific size and face. Or as Wikipedia puts it: “the complete set of all the characters for ‘9-point Bulmer’ is called a font, and the ’10-point Bulmer’ would be another separate font, but part of the same font family, whereas ‘9-point Bulmer boldface’ would be another font in a different font family of the same typeface.”

FTP or File Transfer Protocol

Protocol that allows users to copy files between their local system and any system they can reach on the network. Common FTP application software includes: Filezilla, Cyberduck and Fetch.






jif or gif : noun : Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) is a bitmap image format for the web. Uses lossless compression but limits color availability to 256. Still more widely used than PNG. Supports animation & transparency.


A graphic symbol that provides the appearance or form for a character. The same single character in different fonts has very different glyphs. Can be an alphabetic or numeric font or some other symbol.


grafēm : noun : The smallest units in a writing system capable of causing a contrast in meaning. In the English alphabet, the switch from cat to bat introduces a meaning change; therefore, c and b represent different graphemes. Examples include alphabetic letters, Chinese characters, numerical digits, punctuation marks, and the individual symbols of any of the world’s writing systems.


A gray shade is any color whose three primary colors are the same value. Gray shades only have intensity (luminance) and no color (chrominance).


A range of gray shades from white to black, as used in a monochrome display or printout.



A reinforced eyelet, as in cloth or leather, through which a fastener may be passed. Also, the small metal or plastic ring used to reinforce such an eyelet.


/ˈɡɪləmɛt/, or /ɡiːəˈmeɪ/ : noun : Also called angle quotes, are line segments, pointed as if arrows (« or »), sometimes forming a complementary set of punctuation marks used as a form of quotation mark.


gŭt’ər : noun : In printing, the blank space where two pages come together. Make sure nothing important, such as a face or any text, is right in the middle of your double page spread – it will get sucked into the gutter and lost forever!






A reproduction of an image in which the various tones of gray or color are produced by dots of ink.

Hexadecimal Number (hex)

hek•sə•des•(ə)•məl : noun : Hexadecimal number in web design is a way to define projected color using the RGB color model. Written as three sets of hex pairs with the first pair representing red, the second green hue and the third blue. A hex number is written from 0-9 and then A-F. So for the color on the left, the hex number would be: #97af98.


ˈhikē : noun : An unwanted mark on a printed piece. Hickeys are caused when a foreign element makes its way into the ink or on the press. Also called bulls eye and fish eye.

High Resolution

AKA hi-res, a high quality image with great detail. For printing, an image’s resolution has to be at least 300 dpi.


H•T•M•L : abbreviation : Short for Hyper Text Markup Language. The standardized markup language for creating web pages. HTML provides structure to content by denoting semantics such as headings, paragraphs, lists, links, quotes and other items.


The quality of a color as determined by its dominant wavelength; its position in the spectrum.






ˈiləˌstrātər : The vector graphics software application from Adobe Systems. Competitors include CorelDraw and Macromedia FreeHand. Illustrator is excellent in creating vector graphics. Its two main partner programs are Adobe PhotoShop and Adobe InDesign.


Iconic logo

A kind of logo that is just an icon or symbol- not combined with a written name. Icons and symbols are compelling yet uncomplicated images that are emblematic of a particular company or product. They use imagery that conveys a literal or abstract representation of your organization. Symbols are less direct than straight text, leaving room for broader interpretation of what the organization represents.


One of the fundamental steps in the prepress printing process. It consists in the arrangement of the printed product’s pages on the printer’s sheet, in order to obtain faster printing, simplified binding and less waste of paper.


A software application program from Adobe. Used to layout multi-page documents such as books, magazines, & brochures.

Information architecture

IA for a website usually includes a sitemap and wireframe – it breaks content into meaningful chunks and organizes it. Like blueprints for a house before it is built.

Inline Element

Any element in HTML which is intended to display in the flow of the content and not start a new section. Examples: boldface, italics, anchor links, and span tags.

Impact Printer

impakt printər : A class of printers that work by banging a head or needle against an ink ribbon to make a mark on the paper. They make a lot of noise and are mostly obsolete. Examples include: dot-matrix printers, daisy-wheel printers and line printers.

Inkjet Printer

noun : This all-in-one computer printer employs small nozzles to spray very fine droplets of water-based ink onto the paper. Models can range from small inexpensive consumer models to large professional machines costing thousands of dollars.

IP (Internet Protocol) Address

I•P əˈdres : noun : A unique string of four numbers separated by periods that identifies each device attached to the Internet. The role of the IP address has been characterized as follows: “A name indicates what we seek. An address indicates where it is. A route indicates how to get there.” An IP address can sometimes be used to show the user’s general location.






In typesetting and printing, the process or result of spacing text so that the lines come out even at the margins. The lines of text on this page are left justified–that is, the text is lined up evenly on the left side of the page but not on the right (which is called ragged right).


jāˌpeg : noun: An image format best used for the web. It makes images smaller using a lossy compression method by throwing away image data.






kēˌwərd : noun : Keyword is a type of meta tag used in HTML that lists words that are used to identify the content and information within a site. Search engines index and rank the site based on keywords and other meta information. Keywords are also the words used by search engine users to search the internet for relative topics.


The horizontal space between a pair of letters. Good kerning is important for readability and aesthetics, so that words appear evenly spaced without inconsistent gaps between letters. Higher quality fonts have good kerning pairs (set spacing between specific letter combinations).






abbreviation: noun : (Local Area Network) A computer network that connects computers in a limited area like home, school, or coffee shop. This is opposed to a Wide Area Network. LANs are capable of transmitting data at very fast rates. Ethernets and wi-fi are the most common type of LANs.



Refers to a horizontal orientation of the page. A landscape page orientation, typical for awards, is wider than it is tall.

Laser Printer

A nonimpact printer that uses a laser to form a pattern of electrostatically charged dots on a light-sensitive drum, which attract toner (dry ink powder). The toner is transferred to a piece of paper and fixed by a heating process.



A function within design software that allows the user to organize their drawing or photo edits. For example, some layers could be: background, artwork, typography, etc.


led-ing : noun : In printing, the spacing between lines, usually measured in points. Historically, the term comes from printing presses where a strip of lead would be inserted between lines of characters to separate the type.


A single thickness of paper, especially in a book with each side forming a page.

LED Printer

A printer that uses a matrix of LEDs as its light source. Has stationary array of LEDs instead of numerous moving parts.


letərˌpres : noun : Invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-15th century, letterpress printing involves locking movable type into the bed of a press, inking it, and rolling or pressing paper against it to form an impression. Letterpress printing has recently come back into style for particular types of jobs such as wedding invitations.


ˈligəCHər : noun : In typography, A single character consisting of two or more joined letters, e.g., æ, œ, fi, st. Ligatures were created as a way to solve the way in some typefaces two letters overlap and create an illegible word. To read more about this fascinating letter form visit a blog post about ligatures from I love typography.


The form of a logo with the position of the brand’s symbol and relating wordmark or other elements in place.


lôgə•tīp : noun: The graphic element of a trademark or brand, which is set in a special typeface/font, and arranged in a particular way. Also known as a wordmark.


Occurs when saving an image in a non-compressed format. Results in no loss of data. GIF, PNG and TIFF are lossless image file formats.


A magnifying lens built into a small stand. Used to inspect copy, film, proofs, plates and printing.

Low resolution

AKA low-res. Lacking image detail. Web images are usually 72 ppi – not a suitable quality for printing.






combination logo mark

A type of logo. There are integrated and stand alone combination marks. This is a graphic with both text and a symbol/icon. For instance, Starbucks logo has the text with the graphic integrated, whereas the AT&T logo has the icon separate from the text.


Various masking tools are available in Photoshop and Illustrator. A mask serves to apply edits to selective parts of an image – or conversely they protect certain parts of an image from being edited.


The logo or plain text title of the magazine or newspaper. It is usually placed at the top of the front cover for display purposes. Dwell is the masthead of an architecture and design magazine.



metəˌdatə : noun : Data that describes, highlights and/or explains other data. This includes items such as authorship, key words, character set, a description of the website, publication dates, title and language. The inclusion of metadata code in a web document helps search engines with indexing, searching processes and semantic analysis.


noun : A mini-website meant to function as an auxiliary supplement to a primary website, often created for specific campaigns. Can be independent websites or part of a larger site.


A close-to-reality rendition of a project. This is often used in packaging design to show how a proposed design would look on a box or other type of package. It is used to give the client/stakeholders a better idea of the final product. It can also be used in web design to show a rough approximation of what the final website would look like in a screen shot of a browser.


Having or appearing to have only one color. For example a black and white image is monochrome, as is a sepia toned image.


To move the mouse pointer over an object on screen such as an icon, text link or menu. This will cause these items to change colors or add or remove underlines – something to show that the object is a link. For example hovering over this text causes the mouse cursor to turn into a hand and the yellow highlight to turn a darker yellow. The effect is widely used in navigation bars, pop-up windows, and form submissions.





Negative Space

negətiv spās : noun : No, it has nothing to do with your aura, this space is the area around the subject of a design – where design is not. Sometimes this is used as a design element in itself because it creates interesting negative shapes. Check out this collection of logos using negative space with gestalt principles.


netəkit : noun : From network etiquette. The informal rules of internet courtesy, best used when sending email, chatting, posting messages, and using limited resources. Examples of netiquette: not using caps lock when type a message, not sending spam emails, making sure the type of language used is appropriate to the venue (English vs. SMS).


netəzən : noun : A portmanteau of Internet and citizen, or cybercitizen, is a person actively involved in online communities.





Offset printing

Also called offset lithography, it is a printing technique whereby ink is spread on a metal plate with etched images, then transferred to an intermediary surface such as a rubber blanket, and finally applied to paper by pressing the paper against the intermediary surface. The objective of this double transfer it to avoid the printing plate’s contact with paper (and thus reduce its wear) which has a rougher surface than the blanket.


A cross-platform font file format (works on both macs and PCs) developed jointly by Adobe and Microsoft. Has h4 ability to support widely expanded character sets and layout features, which provide richer linguistic support and advanced typographic control.

Overprint Varnish

high build UV Varnish

A clear or tinted coating applied over the printed page as part of the printing or finishing process. It may produce a dull, satin, or glossy finish. The overprint varnish may be applied as an all-over varnish (flood coating) or as a spot varnish (applied only to parts of the page).


An advanced font format developed by Adobe and Microsoft. The main benefit of fonts in the OpenType format are their cross-platform capability and support for a wide range of character sets and layout features.


In typography, A word, part of a word, or very short line that appears by itself at the end of a paragraph.
See also: Widow.





Pages (in wordpress)

Pages live outside of the normal blog chronology of wordpress. Pages (as opposed to posts) are used to present permanent or timeless information such as “about us” or “privacy policy”. To find out more about pages, visit the wordpress codex.


P•D•F : abbreviation : Portable Document Format. A file format that preserves most attributes of a source document no matter what application was used to create it.

Perfect binding

pərfikt bīndiNG : noun : A common book binding method where the pages are aligned or cut together and glued. Paperbacks are an example of perfect binding. Adjective form: perfect bound.


pɜːməˌlɪŋk : noun: Portmanteau word made from permanent link. A link to your blog posts, categories, archives and others intended to be permanent. Avoids link rot by using semantic names such as the category or post name instead of /?p=123. It is what comes after the site name in the url such as The part /openbox9ionary/ is the permalink. It is also friendly to search engines. WordPress supports permalinks. Find out more about using permalinks in WordPress.


fōtōˌSHäp : noun or verb : A raster graphics (pixel-based) software application from Adobe systems. Competitors include GIMP, PhotoLine, and Pixelmator. Basically photoshop is a photo editor useful for either very advanced tasks or simple ones.


pi·ca : noun : A printer’s unit of type size. 12 points or about 1/6 of an inch. Example: A good rule of thumb is to indent the first line of a paragraph over 7 picas.


What a pixel looks like up close pik•səl : noun : In a digital image the smallest unit or picture element that makes up the raster image displayed on screen. On the left you can see a close up of an image; each one of those squares is a pixel.

Plain Text Formatting

Plain text is the most portable format because it is supported by nearly every application on every machine. It is quite limited, however, because it cannot contain any formatting commands. Often required as an option when sending out an email campaign.


A device that draws pictures on paper based on commands from a computer. Plotters differ from printers in that they draw lines using a pen. As a result, they can produce continuous lines, whereas printers can only simulate lines by printing a closely spaced series of dots. Multicolor plotters use different-colored pens to draw different colors.


noun : 3rd party software that increases functionality and customization for a larger software application beyond the standard. Find a listing of wordpress plugins at their plugin directory.


P•M•S : abbreviation : Stands for Pantone Matching System. A color matching system that prints spot colors for items such as logo that need a high degree of consistency. The ink is directly mixed from pigment- not the four CMYK inks mixed together. Created to provide accuracy in printing so designers can look at a swatch book and see how the final color will look printed. To get a glimpse into the world of ink-making watch this great video.


P•N•G : noun : Stands for portable network graphics. An patent-free alternative image file format to .gif that supports transparency & interlacing. It is compressed in a lossless fashion. To find out more about pngs and other file formats visit the wiki page here.

Pop Account

Downloads your mail to your computer. The advantage to this is access to already downloaded email without needing internet. Most POP clients have an option to leave mail on server after download. Applies only to email programs that you run on your own computer, like Outlook, Eudora, Mail, and Entourage.


Refers to the vertical orientation of the paper. A page with portrait orientation, typical for letters, memos, and other text documents, is taller than it is wide.

Posts (in wordpress)

noun: Posts in wordpress make up the heart of a site. They are the content that keeps your website fresh and up-to-date. Posts are timely entries that display in reverse chronological order showing up on any pages that specified on your site. See also, pages.

Post Script Font

A scalable font technology from Adobe that renders fonts for both the printer and the screen.


P•P•I : Pixels per inch, a measure of the resolution of input devices such as display screens, scanners, and monitors. Not to be confused with DPI- a measure of the resolution of output devices.

Press Proof

A proof from the printing press, plates, and actual inks specified for the job. A press proof is used to verify images, tone values, colors, and imposition. It’s your last chance to get it right. AKA: dry proof, off-press proof, digital CMYK proof, continuous tone proof, halftone proof.

PSD file

P•S•D : abbreviation : The native file format of Adobe Photoshop documents. PSD files keep layers separated to allow for continued editing.

Pull Quote

pool kwoht : noun : An excerpt or quotation from an article that is usually larger and more distinct than the rest of the page. They serve to entice readers to read the article and to add visual interest to the page.






QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes that can be read by most cell phones. The codes appear in a variety of places, such as magazine and newspaper ads. A QR code is used to encode some sort of information, such as text or a URL.


A page layout software owned by Quark, Inc. QuarkXPress once dominated the market but has fallen well behind Adobe InDesign in market share.


kwōt : noun: Price offered by a printer to produce a specific job.





Raster Graphics

ras•tər graf•iks : noun : Raster or bitmap images are made of pixels and are typically images such as jpg, tiff, & png. Because they are pixel dependent, enlarging them too much makes them look pixelated. Raster graphics are sometimes referred to as contones (from “continuous tones”) and vector graphics as “line work”.


rēm : noun : 500 sheets of paper (formerly 480). 516 sheets is a printer’s ream. Here’s a short cheat sheet for measuring units of writing paper:

  • 25 sheets = 1 quire
  • 500 sheets = 20 quires = 1 ream
  • 1,000 sheets = 40 quires = 2 reams = 1 bundle
  • 5,000 sheets = 200 quires = 10 reams = 5 bundles = 1 bale


A right-hand page of an open book, or the front of a loose document. Ablative Latin rēctus meaning right.


registration mark

In printing, the method of correlating overlapping colors on one single image.

Rich Text Formatting (RTF)

A file format standardized by Microsoft for creating formatted text files. It is universal – readable by nearly all word processors. The file can include information such as text style, size, & color.



Unsightly white spaces in a column of text created by full justification of text. The narrower the column, the bigger the rivers.


R•G•B : abbreviation : An additive color model used on screens in which Red, Green, and Blue light are added together to create a broad array of colors. A number between 1-255 designates the amount of each RGB color. This is not to be confused with the CMYK color model.



R•S•S : abbreviation : A web feed that allows regularly updated content such as news articles to be collected in one place and brought to your computer. This allows you to receive information in one place without having to clutter up your inbox with email subscribes. You can subscribe to our RSS feed here





Sans Serif

sanz serəf : noun: A sans-serif typeface (like arial) is one that doesn’t have the small features called “serifs” at the end of strokes.

Saturation / Desaturation

The intensity of any given color. A color that is fully saturated is using one wavelength at a high intensity. A color is desaturated by a drop in intensity. Adding white, black, gray or the color’s complement will desaturate a color. The image at the left shows the scale of saturation with 100% at the top and 0% at the bottom.


self kəvər : noun : On a book, magazine, catalog, or brochure that is printed along with the rest of the pages and may be the same paper stock


S•E•O : abbreviation : Search Engine Optimization : A process of increasing amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high ranking placement in the search engine results page (SERP) of a search engine.


serəf : noun : A category of type characterized by finishing strokes at the top and bottom of a letter. Times New Roman is a serif typeface.


sītmap : noun : Either a way to plan a site with an overview of the structure and hierarchy of pages or a page on a website with a listing of linked pages accessible to crawlers and users.


skeumorphic button

SKYOO-uh-morfism : The design concept of making the items represented resemble their real-world counterparts. In UI and Web design, skeuomorphism attempts to create three dimensional (3-D) effects on a 2-D (flat) surface. E.g. a calendar app looking like the paper version, the sound of a camera shutter on a digital camera.

Small Caps

Capital letters that are similar in height to the x-height of lowercase letters. Small caps can be used for headings or for abbreviations and acronyms in normal or body text.



Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. A protocol for sending emails between servers. An email client (usually POP or IMAP) is then necessary to receive messages.

Social Media

share this button sōSHəl ˈmēdēə : noun : Multimedia web based tools such as social networking sites, blogs, microblogs and forums. They create outlets for people to connect, discuss, share information and resources. Social Media is all about interactive dialogue and the creation and exchange of user-generated content.

Software Engineer

An engineer who applies the principles of software engineering to the design, development, testing, and evaluation of the software and systems that make computers or anything containing software, such as computer chips, work.

Spot Color

Spot kuhl•er : noun : Inks that are not mixed from the four process or CMYK colors, but are instead created from a single opaque color, not CMYK translucent halftones. Spots are used for items such as logos that need precise color matching.


An article or advertisement covering several columns or pages of a newspaper or magazine, especially two facing pages.


spīˌwe(ə)r : noun : Any software that covertly gathers user information through the user’s Internet connection without the user’s knowledge, usually for advertising purposes.


sprīt : noun : An image that actually contains multiple images. The images are typically displayed cropped down to only show a small area. As counter-intuitive as it seems, this can improve efficiency by requiring less total images to be used.


Short for Secure Sockets Layer, a protocol for transmitting private information (such as credit card numbers) via the Internet. SSL uses a cryptographic system that uses two keys to encrypt data − a public key known to everyone and a private or secret key known only to the recipient of the message. URLs that require an SSL connection start with https: instead of http.


Professional photographs, illustrations, videos, or audio files of common places, landmarks, nature, events, or people that are bought and sold on a royalty-free basis and can be used and reused for commercial design purposes. Popular sites are istockphoto, shutterstock and getty images.


Also pronounced schwag : noun : Originally Souvenirs Wearables And Gifts now shorted to Stuff We All Get. SWAG = (usually) free items bearing a company’s logo or brand that acting as advertising for that company.


Small Web Format (Originally ShockWave Flash). The file format for playing Flash animation files – plays in a Flash media player.






tablit : noun : Computers shaped like slates or (paper) notebooks featuring touchscreen interfaces and a stylus, plus handwriting recognition software. Tablets are primarily marketed as a platform for audio-visual media including books, periodicals, movies, music, games, and web. Apple’s iPad, and the tablet PC are examples of tablet computers.



noun : A blog taxonomy in WordPress more specific than categories. Tags are non-hierarchical and cross linked. The use of tags is completely optional.


WordPress themes can be thought of as a “skin” for your website. However, it does more than a skin implies, WordPress themes can provide much more control over the look and presentation of the material on your website. A WordPress Theme is a collection of template files that modify the way the site is displayed without modifying the underlying software.


tif : noun :Stands for tagged image file format. A file format used for storing images. TIFFs provide best quality images for printing. Supports layers and transparency.


tint : noun : A color with a presence of white, a lighter shade of the color. For example, pink is a tint of red.

True Type

An open (non-proprietary) industry standard for digital scalable outline fonts. Developed by Apple computer in 1991 as a cheaper substitute for Adobe’s proprietary type 1 font technology.The TrueType font system is comprised of two parts; the fonts, and a program called a rasterizer. The rasterizer is integrated into Apple operating system versions 7 and higher and all Microsoft Windows systems. The purpose of the rasterizer is to aid in displaying TrueType fonts properly on screens and when printing documents. Read more about Open Type Vs. True Type.



A set of one or more fonts, in one or more sizes, designed with stylistic unity, each comprising a coordinated set of glyphs. Typefaces are actually font families. An example could be the myriad family which consists of: Myriad, Myriad Std and Myriad Pro.






U•I : abbreviation : Stands for User Interface. The system by which users interact with a machine either by command-driven interfaces (where you enter commands) or menu-driven interfaces (where you select command choices from various menus displayed on the screen). A powerful program with a poorly designed user interface has little value.


U•R•L : abbreviation : Stands for uniform resource locator. The global address of a web page and other resources on the world wide web. Example: Specifies where a known resource is available and the mechanism for retrieving it.


The study of the ease with which people can employ a particular tool or other human-made object in order to achieve a particular goal. For instance, web sites with usability problems could be hard to navigate, difficult for disabled people to use, or have unclear instructions for use.


U•X : User eXperience design. Highlights how a person feels about a design involving human-computer interaction. User experience is dynamic, because it changes over time as the circumstances change. User experience is inherently subjective. Determining factors include: utility, ease of use and efficiency of the system. A more lengthy definition of user experience can be found here.






When we describe a color as “light” or “dark”, we are discussing its value or “brightness”. Value measures where a color falls on an achromatic scale from white to black.

Vector graphics

vek•tər graf•iks : noun : Images created using geometrical formulas in programs such as Adobe Illustrator. Vector artwork is made up of a series of points and lines that uses math to determine how to fill the space between those points. Because it is math-based vector artwork can be scaled infinitely without losing quality, as opposed to raster or pixel based images. Visit our logo section of our portfolio page to see some examples of vector artwork.



A left-hand page of an open book, or the back of a loose document.


two inks being mixed

The thickness or density of ink. A measure of a liquid’s ability to resist flow. h4ly affects how ink behaves on the press and is ultimately transferred to the sheet.






W•3•C : abbreviation : World Wide Web Consortium. Started by web-inventor Tim Berners-Lee and Jeffrey Jaffe to develop web standards. Enables the WWW realize its full potential by developing common protocols to ensure interoperability.

Web Developer

A generic term for a person who builds applications or sites for the web. Their role refers to ‘back-end’ development.

Web fonts

noun : A typeface installed with a web browser, and typically designed for screen-use. They allow web designers to choose from a larger selection of fonts beyond the standard set of fonts on the majority of users computers.

Web Hosting

Web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to make their own website accessible via the World Wide Web. Web hosts are companies that provide space on a server they own or lease for use by their clients as well as providing Internet connectivity.

Web Semantics

Choosing the correct HTML tags to describe to content. For example, using a tag like for your website navigation is very semantic.


Example of Typesetting WidowA paragraph-ending line that falls at the beginning of the following page/column, thus separated from the rest of the text. The text highlighted in yellow in this image is a widow.

White Space

wīt spās : Areas of a design (not necessarily white!) that are intentionally left blank for aesthetics.


noun : In web design and software development, A wireframe is a diagrammatic representation of the elements that need to be accounted for on each page of the website or screen of the program.



wərd•pres : noun : An open source (think free!) blog publishing application which can also be used for website content management (CMS). It features integrated link management; a search engine-friendly, clean permalink structure; the ability to assign nested, multiple categories to articles; multiple author capability; and support for tagging of posts and articles. You can find out more about WordPress from the horse’s mouth.



WYS•I•WYG : Acronym : Stands for what you see is what you get. A content editor that allows the user to view something very similar to the end result while in edit mode. This is helpful because it allows users that don’t know code to create and edit content. WordPress has this function.






ĕks•hīt : noun : In typography, The height of a lowercase x, which is used to represent the height of all lower case letters sans ascenders or descenders in that typeface. This factor greatly affects typeface readability.






The year 2000 in the Gregorian calendar. As that year approached, many feared that computer programs storing year values as two-digit figures (such as 99) would cause problems. Program logic assumes that the year number gets larger, not smaller – so “00” was anticipated to wreak havoc in a program that hadn’t been modified to account for the millennium.





Zip File

noun or verb : A self-extracting computer file carrying the extension .ZIP whose contents of one or more files are compressed to reduce file size for storage or transmission. To zip file(s) on a mac: Select the appropriate files(s), right click and click compress.

desk with coffee and uncapped pen

Inventing words – because the ones we have aren’t enough.

Beyond the joy of visually communicating, we do enjoy the art of adding new words to the world. Below are a few of these wordyariates (oh, add another one!).


Ant•far•mer : noun : One who drops crumbs while eating at his office desk for his cattle of ants. The crumbs in turn, feed an ant colony of millions. The harvest yields little financial rewards but the ability to create life is beyond any dollar.


astro•naw•sign•er : A graphic designer working in the internet-space. Responsible for launching, piloting, and engineering web vehicles to unknown frontiers… like astronauts without the helmets.



kee•gil : The yankee dandy patriotization of beef eaten on July Fourth (cow+eagle). Oddly enough submitted by a vegetarian and southerner.


De•cev•i•ous : Actively mischievous and deceitful at the same time. AKA: Monkey Business. Such as when a cat burglar not only steals the diamond, but leaves his Pokemon collection in its place.


Gra•di•ate : verb : The act or performance of creating a gradation effect in a design. Example: “Okay Graham, now gradiate the red into the bottom of the page.”


Rel•e•vant•kool : noun : Often times, that which is irrelevant is mistakenly labeled “cool.” Finding something that is cool and relevant to the situation or surroundings is a hunt worth hunting.


Not quite doing nothing but maybe doing a little.


səˈnänəmāt : verb : To pair two things in your mind and to give them equal value. Eg: I synonymate web design with breathing.


ye•fee : noun : ink written on hand with pen (word submitted by Carlee Schafer at age 3)