Graphic Design, Advertising Design, Logo Design, Illustration, Web Design, Printing & Publishing Terms

A list of common technical and creative terms familiar to professional designers in print, marketing and web design and their definitions:

A   |   B   |   C   |   D   |   E
F   |   G   |   H   |   I   |   J
K   |   L   |   M   |   N   |   O
P   |   Q   |   R   |   S   |   T
U   |   V   |   W   |   X


Ad Hoc – A versatile, catch-all term that can also be associated with wireless devices. When a connection is established between computers without having a base station, they have formed an ad hoc network.

Aliasing (or 'Spatial Aliasing') – Pixelation with near horizontal or near vertical lines of high contrast.

All-Media Rights – Contract term which asks permission from the graphic designer to allow the buyer to distribute work for use in all media (often includes the clause "now known or invented in the future").

All-Rights Contract – Contract which includes all the rights of usage for reproduction of artwork forever; artists does retain statutory termination right.

Anti-Alias – Blending of pixel colors on the perimeter of hard-edged graphics to smooth out any jagged edges.

Alpha Channel – 8-bit grayscale channel used for saving a selection.

Alley – Space between columns on a page; not to be confused with the gutter.

Aqueous Coating (AQ) – A glossier finish used to protect and enhance a printed piece. Aqueous coating is applied to all 100lb gloss book and 100lb gloss cover.

Ascender – Parts of lowercase letters that rise above the x-height of the font (ex. g, b, etc.).


Back End – In website development, the back end is the behind-the-scenes functionality which is not visible to the site visitor; includes databases, software, searches, built-in security, payment processing, video streaming, etc.

Bailment – The obligation on the part of the person or persons with whom art has been left to take reasonable care of it (i.e. client's artwork, portfolio left for review, etc.).

Banner – In publication design, title of a periodical appearing on a cover of a publication; contains name of the publication and serial information, date, volume, number.

Baseline – Imaginary horizontal line upon which the main body of letters sit; rounded letters actually dip slightly below the baseline to give optical balance (ex. s, p, etc.).

Bevel – Raised appearance of edges using highlight colors and shadow colors to the inside.

Blanket Contract – A contract that is kept on file by a design agency or publishing firm which covers all future projects; may also cover some past assignments.

Binding – Different methods used to secure loose pages in a book is called binding. Saddle stitch is an example of binding.

Bleed – 1) In printing, an element that extends off the edge of the page so that when it is trimmed, a white edge will not be visible. Bleeds must be setup to extend past the cut-line and will be trimmed from the product during the final cutting phase. When the image is required to extend all the way to the edge, bleeds are needed to preserve the finished look and the quality of the final product. 2) An ink that changes color or mixes with other nearby colors, sometimes caused by lamination.

Block Quote – Long quotation (four or more lines) set apart from the rest of the body text.

Blurb – In book design, a blurb is the promotional text on the flap of a book jacket or outside back cover of a paperback.

Body Height – The height of the lowercase letters as in the lowercase 's'; otherwise referred to as 'x-height.'

Body Type or Text – The main text of a document or publication; generally sized from 9 point to 14 point for readability.

BMP (Bitmap) – A graphic composed of dots (also called bits or pixels) that are created on a 72x72 dot grid, the same as a computer monitor. The bitmap file format does not use any compression and are displayed as pixels on the screen.

Byline – The name of the writer or reporter and their staff position which usually precedes the article, but can also come at the end of a story. Bylines are usually set in a smaller, italicized font. Readers typically associate bylines with unbiased reporting.

Box-Out – Small box of text on the page, usually shaded in a different color.

Bulk – In book publishing, the thickness of paper in which spine widths are calculated from the calibration of paper bulk and number of pages.


Call-Out – Explanatory label for an illustration, often drawn with a leader line pointing to a particular part of the illustration.

Camera-Ready Copy – In printing, this is final publication material which is ready to be made into a negative for a printing plate; generally replaced with 'press-ready.'

Cancellation Fee(or 'Kill Fee') – Fee paid as compensation for the designer's or company's effort in developing a project where the project is terminated or not used by the client for reasons which are outside of the designer's or company's control.

Cap Height – In typography, the distance from the baseline to the top of capital letters.

Caption – The text under photos or illustrations identifying or describing the image; captions should also support the other content; also called 'cutline.'

Cardstock – Also called 'cover stock.' Mostly heavyweight papers are called cardstock. The thickness of cardstock is indicated with point sizes such as 14pt, 16pt. Some people will also refer to 100lb gloss cover as a cardstock.

Cast Off – In book publishing, this is the estimate of the number of typeset pages which are based on the length of the manuscript.

Clip Art – Ready-made artwork often widely distributed in the public domain and used with varying royalty licenses.

CMYK – Cyan (blue), Magenta (red), Yellow, Key (black) – Represents the ink colors which are used to print 4-color images and to create colors which we see in nature and on paper. CMYK is also called 'process color' or '4c.'

Color Proof / Match Print – An image, created by using color inks and showing what the final printed product will look like.

Color Separation – In printing, the process of creating separate negatives and plates for each color of ink (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) that will be used in printing a job.

Color Spacing – Applying more space to condensed areas of text or text spacing to achieve a more aesthetic appearance after the line has been set automatically.

Column Gutter – The space between columns of type.

Comp – Derived from 'comprehensive layout,' this is a blueprint of a project depicting how type will be set and/or positioned along with the treatment, sizing and placement of graphics.

Continuous Tone – Photograph, illustration, painting or drawing which consists of a broad range of tone.

Copyfitting – Laying out of a variable amount of copy within a specified and fixed amount of space.

Copyright – The right of an author or artist to control to the use of their original work.

Credits – The writer of a feature story is typically given credit near the headline or in the form of a byline. Photos may have the name of the photographer or agency on top of, alongside of or near the photo(s).

Creep – On saddle-stitched publications, the thickness of the paper as well as the number of pages can cause the image to appear closer to the fore-edge or the edge opposite the stitching. The pages which are closer to the cover are not as affected as the pages towards the center of the publication.

Crop Marks – Lines printed in the margin of sheet that indicates to the cutter and bindery where the finished product should be trimmed. They are also used to show what part of a photo should be used and what part should be trimmed off.

Crosshead – A subheading which appears in the body text and is centered above the column of text. If the subheading is justified to one side, it is called a 'side-head.'

Crop Marks – In printing, horizontal and vertical lines which indicate the edge of the printed piece or the trim size. Also called 'corner marks' or 'cut marks.'

Cropping – Eliminating the extraneous parts of an image or graphic.

Cutline – The text under photos or illustrations identifying or describing the image; also called 'caption.'


Deck – A short summary of the article or story which allows the reader to get the main point of an article or story before reading further; often confused with subheads but decks are typically longer.

Descender – In typography, the part of the letter which extends below the baseline; usually refers to lowercase letters and some punctuation, but certain typefaces have uppercase letters with descenders as well.

Die Cutting – A specific shape like a circle, star, etc (any design that cannot be done by a straight cut) which is cut by a metal blade. Door hangers are a popular product which requires die cutting.

Direct Mail – Another name for advertising mail sent to targeted markets. It can be any mail class, but it is usually Standard Mail.

Discretionary Hyphen – A hyphen that occurs when a word appears at the end of a line of text.

Display Type – Any type other than body text. Usually indicates large and/or decorative text used for headlines or as graphic elements; common sizes are 16, 18, 24, 30, 36, 48, 60 and 72 point.

Dither – A flat bitmap which renders an image with dots in which all dots are of the same size but there are more dots in darker areas and fewer of them in light areas.

Dot Gain – A phenomenon in offset printing where the dots which make up halftones, duotones, 4-color separations and screen tints increase in size. It is composed of two elements: mechanical (physical) gains, optical (visual) gains. Mechanical gains occur during film generations, platemaking, ink, paper, press and printing conditions. Optical gains occur due to interaction between light and ink on paper. As refracted light enters the paper into and around the dots, the light which reflects back to the eye artificially increases the diameter of the dots.

DPI (dots per inch) – Unit of measurement describing the resolution of an image. A measurement of resolution of input, output and display devices. 300dpi means that when printed, each square inch of your image will contain 90,000 pixels (dots), the higher the dpi (the more pixels per inch) the more crisp the printed image will be. In printing, high resolution images of 300dpi for photographs and 600dpi to 1200dpi for illustrations are acceptable; image setters can output anywhere from 1270dpi to 2540dpi. In web images, low resolution images of 72dpi or 150dpi are acceptable. Anything less than these numbers are considered as low resolution and may appear blurry when published.

Drop Shadow – Shadows dropping below graphics or text which gives the illusion of shadows from lighting and gives a 3D effect to the object.

Dummy – Sample mock-up of a job made with the actual materials to to the correct size to show bulk, style of binding, position of type and illustrations, margins, etc.

Duotone – Halftone image printed with two colors where one is dark and the other is of a lighter contrast. The same image is halftoned twice using the same screen at two different angles; combining the two improves both detail and contrast.


Em Dash (or 'M Dash' or 'M-rule' or 'Mutton') (—) – Represents a break in the sentence structure---like this. The em dash often demarcates a break of thought or some similar interpolation stronger than the interpolation. It is also used to indicate that a sentence is unfinished because the speaker has been interrupted. The em dash is used in much the way a colon or a set of parentheses is used; it can show an abrupt change in thought or be used where a full stop (or period) is too strong and a comma too weak. According to most style guides, an em dash should always be set closed, meaning it should not be surrounded by spaces. However some publishing houses prefer to use an en dash surrounded by a thin space in this situation. While some writers, finding the em dash unappealingly long, prefer to use an open-set en dash. This 'space, en dash, space' sequence is also the predominant style in German and French typography.

Em Space – A space as wide as the point size of the types. This measurement is relative; in 12-point type an em space is 12 points wide, but in 24-point type an em space is 24 points wide.

Embossing – Adding dimension to a 2D graphic by making the image appear as if it were carved as a projection from a flat background. The process involves applying pressure to the back side of a material to change the surface, giving it a three-dimensional or raised effect. Embossing can also be referred to as raised lettering.

En Dash (or 'N Dash' or 'N-Rule' or 'Nut') (–) – Wider than the hyphen but not as wide as the em dash, commonly used to indicate a closed range of values, may include ranges such as those between dates, times, or numbers. (e.g. pages 2-–8, ages 3–5, 3:00–4:00 p.m., 1998–2009) En dashes do not normally have spaces around them; one exception is made when avoiding spaces that may cause confusion or otherwise look odd.

En Space – A space half as wide as the type is high (half an em space).

Endpapers – Lining sheets (usually blank but also seen graphically patterned) at the end of a book to fasten the case to the first and last sections of a case binding.


F-Layout (or 'F Pattern Layout') – One of the accepted principles or scanning patterns of how a viewer's eye typically reads or scans a web page.

Facing Pages – in a double-sided document, the two pages that appear as a spread when the publication is opened.

Feather – To insert small amounts of additional leading between lines, paragraphs, and before and after headings in order to equalize the baselines of columns on a page.

Feature – Main story of a publication usually presented as a spread; not necessarily a current affairs but usually with a human-interest angle.

Figure dash (-) – Used when a dash must be used within numbers. This does not indicate a range, for which the en dash is used; nor does it function as the minus sign, which also uses a separate glyph.

Finished Size (or 'Trim Size') – The size of a printed product after all production operations have been completed.

Flash – A software platform that allows dynamic visuals and music to be streamed to web browsers but is often unrealiable across a multitude of devices and browsers; being replaced by HTML5.

Flat Size –The size of a printed product after printing and trimming but before any finishing operations that affect its final size, such as folding.

Flush Left or Right – Text which is set to line up at the left or right of a margin or column.

Foil – The application of metallic silver or gold on paper stock using a heated die. The foil is adhered to the surface leaving the design of the die on the paper. Adds a custom touch to your printed product by applying a thin film of metal to paper that creates an eye-catching result.

Folio – 1) Page number, often set with running headers or footers; sometimes called 'running heads' or 'running feet' depending on location of the text. 2) A large book in which the full-size sheet only needs to be folded once before binding.

Font – A set of characters or letterforms in a specific typeface set to a specific size and style.

Four-Color Process (4C) – A printing process which combines 4 colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) with dots printed on top of each other, next to each other or close to each other depending on the indicated color and tonal values.

Full Bleed – Printing that goes to the edges of all four sides of the artwork.


Galleys – in traditional publishing, the type set in long columns, not laid out on a page. In desktop publishing, galleys can be printed out using a page-assembly program, for proofreading and copyfitting purposes.

GIF (Graphic Interchange format) – GIF images display up to 256 colors. GIF images generally have very small file sizes and are the most widely used graphic format on the web. The low quality resulting from compression makes them unsuitable for professional printing.

Gloss Finish – A coating on paper that provides a higher reflection of light, which results in a shiny appearance. Gloss coatings reduce ink absorption, which allows excellent contrast and color definition.

Gloss Paper – Paper with a gloss finish, usually used for higher quality printing. Examples are 100lb gloss book and 100lb gloss cover.

Greek Text – in page layout, text that appears as gray bars approximating the lines of type rather than actual characters. This speeds up the amount of time it takes to draw images on the screen.

Graphic Design – Visual representation of an idea or concept. The term is used as a collective name for all activities relating to visual design, including web design, logo design, etc.

Gutenberg Diagram (or 'Z Pattern') – One of the accepted principles or scanning patterns of how a person's eye reads a printed page as it reads or scans a page in a book, starting in the top left corner.

Gutter – In double-sided documents, the combination of the inside margins of facing pages; the gutter should be wide enough to accommodate binding.


Hairline – The thinnest possible line or space that is visible when printed.

Hairline Registration – In four-color process printing, it means to register very closely and precisely within one half of a dot to a whole dot, depending on the size of the dots.

Half Up – Printing instructions to prepare artwork 50% larger than the final size so that it can be reproduced at 66% to eliminate any blemishes on the original.

Halftone or Halftone Curves – In press printing, reproducing tone illustrations by breaking them down photographically into dots. Custom halftone curves are used to compensate for the dot gain or loss that occurs when an image or graphic is transferred to film/plate. Halftones are generally device specific. Curves can be adjusted in Photoshop under Image > clicking on the eyedroppers and adjusting black (shadow), gray (midtone) and white (highlight) eyedroppers to specs given.

Hammer – The larger headline above a smaller main headline which uses a few words (usually three or less) to attract attention to a main article.

Hanging Indent Alignment – Text set so that the first line is flush left and subsequent lines are indented.

Hard Hyphen – A non-breaking hyphen used when two parts of a hyphenated word should not be separated as compared to a normal (or soft) hyphen where the word-wrapping function of a program will automatically break a line.

Hard Return – A line shift created by the 'return' or 'enter' key; as opposed to a word-wrap or soft return which will adjust according to the character count and column width.

Headline – Lines of text that are set in larger, bolder type for the purpose of attracting readers to an article or story. A banner headline spans the full width of a page.

Hickey – A spot on a printed sheet that appears as a small white circle with ink in the center, caused by particles such as dirt, dust or bits of paper.

Horizontal Bar (or 'Quotation Dash') (—) – Used to introduce quoted text; this is also a standard method of printing dialogue in some languages.

Hyphen – Used to create compound words such as 'a badly-designed car'. Also used to indicate that a word has been broken at the end of a line and the remainder continued on the next line.

Hyphenation Zone – For ragged-right text, this is an arbitrary zone about 1/5 to 1/10 of the length of the line. if a long word is not hyphenated and leaves a gap within that zone, discretionary hyphens can be used to fill the line to make it more visually aesthetic.


Image Area – Area on a layout where copy is positioned; determined by margins or live area or trim size.

Imposition – Placing pages on a printing sheet so that each page will be in the correct sequence when folded, trimmed, etc.

InDesign – An industry-standard page layout and design software by Adobe.

ISBN (International Standard Book Number) – A unique ten-number code (and older 13-number code) that identifies the language of the publication of a book, its publisher and its title plus a check digit; often used with an ISBN barcode.


JPG (Joint Photographic Electronic Group) – A common compression method that shrinks a file's storage size by discarding non-important picture detail; not the best file format for printing since excessive compression can cause poor image quality. The bigger the file size (width x height), the sharper the image will print. (For print: save at 300dpi RGB or CMYK. For web: save at 72dpi RGB)

Justify – The positioning of lines or blocks of text so that they are evenly spaced on both the left and right sides.


Kerning – The squeezing together of letterforms or characters for a better fit of strokes and white space.

Kicker – A subheadline using a smaller-font (often underlined and set smaller than the headline or chapter title but larger than text type) and set above the headline. Kickers are often a one- or two-word identifier used to draw readers to certain articles.

Kill Fee (or 'Cancellation Fee') – Fee paid as compensation for the designer's or company's effort in developing a project where the project is terminated or not used by the client for reasons which are outside of the designer's or company's control.


Lead Story – Main story on the front page of a newspaper or newsletter.

Leader – A line of dashes or dots to lead the reader's eye across the page to separate copy.

Leading – (pronounced 'led-ding') The space or spaces between lines of type generally measured baseline-to-baseline in points. Body text is typically set with one or two points of leading (i.e. 10-point type with 2 points of leading; read as 10/12 or ten on twelve.)

Letterforms – In typography, the shapes of the characters or type.

Ligature – In typography, characters that can be bound to each other such as 'ae' and 'oe'; the lowercase ' f ' can often be set as a ligature in combination with other letters such as ' fi. '

Line Art – Black and white artwork with no gray areas (e.g. pen and ink drawing).

Line Screen – A transparent screen which has been etched with fine line. Used to convert a picture or photograph into a halftone dot pattern so that can be printed.

Logotype – Symbol, mark or identifying name.

Lorem Ipsum – The graphic design industry's standard dummy text. It has been used since the 1500s when a printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

Lossy Compression – When saving files, this algorithm accepts some degradation in an image in order to achieve smaller file size.

Lossless Compression – When saving files, this discards no information and looks for more efficient ways to save and represent an image, while making no compromises in accuracy.

Low-Resolution Image – Low-detail image; often used to achieve a smaller file size; depends on actual file size, both dpi and height and width.

Lure – A phrase or one or two words used to direct the reader to look inside the paper at a story or feature.


M Dash (or 'Em Dash' or 'M-Rule' or 'Mutton') (—) – Represents a break in the sentence structure---like this. The em dash often demarcates a break of thought or some similar interpolation stronger than the interpolation. It is also used to indicate that a sentence is unfinished because the speaker has been interrupted. The em dash is used in much the way a colon or a set of parentheses is used; it can show an abrupt change in thought or be used where a full stop (or period) is too strong and a comma too weak. According to most style guides, an em dash should always be set closed, meaning it should not be surrounded by spaces. However some publishing houses prefer to use an en-dash surrounded by a thin space in this situation. While some writers, finding the em dash unappealingly long, prefer to use an open-set en dash. This 'space, en dash, space' sequence is also the predominant style in German and French typography.

Majuscule – Uppercase or capital letter.

Makeready – In printing, the final adjustment of a form for printing, with overlays and underlays to achieve the correct pressure over the entire printing area.

Margin – The non-printed areas around the image area of a page.

Masthead – Credit box or area of a magazine or other publication which traditionally lists publishers, editors, writers, designers, illustrators, photographers, sponsors and others, along with the office address, subscription and advertising information, etc. In newspapers, the masthead is referred to the title block or logo, motto, etc. identifying the newspaper at the top of the front-page.

Mezzotint – For a halftone image, a special effect which produces connected and dusty-looking dots.

Miniscule – Lowercase letter.

Moiré – (pronounced 'more-ray') Irregular and jagged patterns which can occur when a preprinted image containing halftone dots is reproduced, enlarged, displayed or printed at a resolution different from the resolution of the original. (i.e. scanning a photo from a magazine). The scan may have to be blurred slightly to reduce the visibility of the moiré pattern.

Monochrome – A single color.


N Dash (or 'En Dash or 'N-Rule' or 'Nut') (–) – Wider than the hyphen but not as wide as the em dash, commonly used to indicate a closed range of values, may include ranges such as those between dates, times, or numbers. (i.e. pages 2-–8, ages 3–5, 3:00–4:00 p.m., 1998–2009) En dashes do not normally have spaces around them; one exception is made when avoiding spaces that may cause confusion or otherwise look odd.

Nested Stories – In newspaper, magazine or newsletter layout, stories which run in multiple columns at different column depths.


Offset Printing – For high-volume printing, this process uses 3 rotating drums: a plate cylinder, blanket cylinder, impression cylinder. The printing plate, which is wrapped around the plate cylinder then inked and dampened, is transferred (or offset) onto the blanket cylinder. Paper then passes between the blanket cylinder and the impression cylinder and the image is then transferred onto the paper.

Orphan – In book design and page layout, when the last line of a paragraph bumps to a new page and leaves a stub of a line at the top. But when you eliminate the widows and orphans, you lose your squared-up page. Headings which do not have enough text underneath may be considered as orphans. Traditionally, there should be as much text below the heading as the height of the heading itself including the white space. Note: In typesetting, widows and orphans are words or short lines at the beginning or end of a paragraph, which are left dangling at the top or bottom of a column, separated from the rest of the paragraph. There is some disagreement about the definitions of widow and orphan; what one source calls a widow the other calls an orphan. (also see 'widow')

Out of Register / Off Register – When an image is not printing in the exact location that it is suppose to. When printing more than one color, if the colors do not line up properly, they are out of register, often seen in newspaper printing on newsprint that stretches when going through the press.

Outlines – A mathematically defined drawing of curves and lines anchored by vectors or control points. Only the dots that create the outline have to drawn to define a character or redrawn to edit the character. Also known as a vector image.

Overruns / Overs –The quantity of printed pieces produced over the quantity that was originally ordered. Also referred to by printers as any paper spoiled in the process of printing.


Pantone® Matching System (PMS) – An industry standard color-matching system used by designers and printers for specifying and blending desired colors for inks, papers and other print materials. It provides over 700 swatches of PMS colors which defines colors by percentage mixtures of different primary inks.

Perfecting – The process of printing both sides of a sheet of paper in the same pass through the press.

Perforation – Creating a series of holes so that the paper can be torn more easily along the line that is formed. Tear-off cards are common products that require perforation.

Pica – In typography, a measurement used to define column widths and other space specifications in a page layout. There are 12 points in a pica and approximately 6 picas to an inch.

Pixel (Picture Element) – The smallest unit of phosphor that can be lit up on a display screen or monitor.

PNG (Portable Network Graphics format) – (pronounced 'ping') For web design, this file format is the best choice for displaying images that require a transparent background. Since PNG files use lossless compression they are generally larger than GIF files. (For web: save at 72dpi RGB)

Point – In typography, a measurement used to define type size, leading and other space specifications in a page layout. There are 12 points in a pica and approximately 70 points to an inch.

Postscript – A page description language for high- and medium-resolution output devices such as printers which allows devices or machines from different manufacturers to output the same file.

Posterization – For a halftone image, a special effect which reduces of the number of gray scales to produce a high-contrast image.

Prelims – Pages or front matter at the beginning of a book consisting of the title page, copyright pages, contents, introduction, acknowledgments, credits, printer information and any other pre-text materials. In children's picture books, these are sometimes seen in the back of the book.

Press Check – Printed sheets from the press that are pulled once all the makeready has been completed. The sheets are checked for quality and accuracy before authorization is given to go ahead with the full production run. Sheets may be pulled throughout the run to do press checks to assure that quality is being maintained.

Press Proof – A proof that is produced on the press using the inks and paper specified for that order.

Press Run – The total quantity of pieces printed during one printing.

Price Break – The order quantity level at which the price of the paper or printed material goes down.

Proof – Used for the client's review and approval, a proof is a copy of the design that represents the finished product but may be of lower paper or resolution quality.

Proofread – Checking a proof for errors or discrepancies from the original copy. Proofreading responsibilty typically falls on the client.

Pugs – Known as the 'ears' of the page, pugs are the top left- and right-hand corners of the front page which usually displays the price or promotion special of a newspaper.

Pull Quote – A brief phrase (not necessarily a quotation) pulled from the body text, traditionally enlarged and set off from the text to add emphasis and interest.

Punctuation Block – in right-justification, several consecutive lines which end with punctuation and make the right margin look uneven.


QuarkXPress – An industry-standard page layout and design software.

Quick Time Video – Video streaming technology developed by Apple.


Ragged Right Alignment – Text which is set so that the white space in a line is set to the right which gives the text a ragged margin; usually set with left justified text.

Raster image Processor (RIP) – The computerized process which results in an electronic bitmap that indicates each spot position on every page in preparation for an actual printout.

Rasterization – Converting the document on screen into data which can be used by high-end imaging equipment in the raster (image) process – placing miniscule dots in position on the page.

Recto – Right-hand page; an even-numbered page.

Registration – Aligning the images of each color so that they print correctly in their proper location on the stock.

Resolution – The sharpness of detail in an image. Screen resolution is measured in dots by lines while printer resolution is measured in dpi (i.e. 300dpi).

Right-Justified Alignment – Text which is set so that it runs flush with the right margin as well as the left margin; so that the white space between letters and words is equally distributed in relation to one another.

RGB (Red, Green, Blue) – RGB is the color space used to project color on a computer screen or monitor which is why this colorspace is used in web design as opposed to CMYK. By mixing these three colors, a large percentage of the visible color spectrum can be represented.

Rivers – Spaces between words that create irregular lines of white space in body type; particularly occurs when the lines of type have been set with excessive word spacing.

Rough – Unfinished layout or design which are often used used for the first client review.

Rough Proof – Proof that is not necessarily in position or on correct paper.

Run-Around – Type that is set to fit the contour of an illustration, photo, graphic or initial.

Run-In Heading – A heading which is set on the same line as the body text, usually in a bolder or emphasized type.


Saddle Stitching – A publication which is bound by being stapled in the middle and folded in half. Also see 'creep.'

Sans Serif – In typography, a letterform which does not have serifs, such as Helvetica or Aria. In Latin, sans means 'without.'

Scope Creep – This term can be applied to so many things in life – but especially to website design. Well known in the corporate world, the term 'scope creep' is when you may not know exactly what you want until you see it, or keep thinking of new ideas to implement before laying down the groundwork or are a perfectionist and thus the project seems to go on indeterminably. Scope Creep is resolved by defining a starting point and ending point so that steps in the project can be finalized and one can move on to other crucial steps in the design process in order to complete it by deadline or within a given time period.

Scoring – A crease applied, in a straight line, to a sheet of paper to allow it to fold easier and more accurately. These jobs are shipped flat.

Serif – In typography, a letterform which projects a counterstroke or decorative element from the ends of the text, such as Times or Garamond.

Service Mark – Provision of trademark law which identifies and protects the source of services rather than products or goods; indicated by the letters 'SM' usually in superior or superscript.

Sidebar – In magazine or newsletter layout, a related story or block of information which is set apart from the main body of text, usually boxed and/or colored.

Sidehead – A subheading which appears in the body text and is justified to one side above the column of text. If the subheading is centered, it is called a 'crosshead.'

Silver – In printing, metallic silver is considered a fifth color (Pantone metallic coated 877c). These files should ideally be designed in a vector-based graphics program.

Solarization – A special effect in a photographic image where high contrast blacks and whites appear black, while midtones approach white.

Spec Work – Describes advertising which is done for a client without a contract or job order where the client will pay only if the work is to be used. When a job is done on speculation, the person doing the work takes the risk in the hope of making a profit, gaining a valuable credit or for some other reason.

Spine – Area between the front and back of a book, magazine or other multi-page publication on which the author, title, issue, website, publisher, etc. are usually indicated.

Spiral Binding (or 'Coil Binding') – Book or publication binding that consists of a spiral wire or plastic comb that is wound through holes. Often used for workbooks or manuals so the publication can be layed flat while in use.

Splash – The main story on the front of a newspaper or newsletter usually accompanied by a large headline and photo or image.

Spot UV-Coating (or 'Spot Varnish') – Coating paper only in specific areas as opposed to an all-over coating. In a Spot UV job, the job gets a UV-coating in only specific areas and does not get any aqueous coating in any other places.

Spot Color – Printing with one or more solid colors, typically black ink is used with the addition of other colors. It is used to emphasis or add color to a printed product without having to print with four-color process.

Spread – A story that covers more than one page but is not limited to two side-by-side pages.

Standfirst – An introductory paragraph before the start of a story or feature, sometimes in a bolder font.

Standing Elements – In multi-page layout, elements which repeat exactly in style, content and placement from page to page. The most common standing elements are folios, headers and footers.

Standoff – Amount of space between blocks of text and graphics or even between two blocks of text which wrap.

Storyboards – Thumbnail sketches of action for animation. For example, storyboards for a commercial usually consist of a series of sketches drawn to indicate camera angles, type of shot, backgrounds, etc.

Strapline – An introductory headline below the main headline.

Style Sheet – in page layout, an efficient way to set the typographic specifications associated with consistent page elements including titles, headings and the attributes of blocks of text, etc.

Subhead (or 'Subheading') – A secondary phrase which usually appears below a headline or used to break text into smaller segments to pique a reader's interest.

Swung Dash (~) – Resembles a lengthened tilde and is used to separate alternatives or approximates. In dictionaries, it is frequently used to stand in for the term being defined.


Tabloid-Size – 11" x 17"; most often used in portrait orientation for newspapers but not to be confused with an 11" x 17" spread which is actually two letter-sized pages.

Tags – In web design, delimited sets of characters embedded in the text or internally coded as in HTML.

Tear Sheet – In print media, a sample of unfinished work as it was reproduced, usually requested by advertising agencies (i.e. printout of client's ad).

Template – In page design, a file with an associated style sheet and other pertinent elements in place on a master page. Used for designing multiple elements of the same design.

Tetrad – A contrast of four or more colors on the color wheel.

Text Wrap – The spatial relationship between blocks of text and graphics or between two blocks of text; rectangular (most common), irregular or arbitrary.

Thumbnail or Thumbnail Sketches – Very small, sketchy drawings or images available for preview on the screen or as sketched design ideas. Often used to show different approaches to the visual problem being solved.

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) – A very flexible graphics format and a popular one among print professionals since it allows the user to create and save with layers and also allows for placement of a layered file within a layout program. This format can be lossless or lossy but is used almost exclusively as a lossless image storage format that uses no compression at all - but this can also make them mssive files.

Tiling (tile) – When a printer's paper capacity is not large enough for the designed layout, tiling allows the printer to print a the layout in sections with overlapping edges so that each piece can be pieced together.

Tombstoning – Multi-column layout in which two or more headings occupy the same horizontal position on the page.

Track – In typography, to reduce space uniformly between all characters in a line. As opposed to kerning, which is the variable reduction of space between specific characters.

Trade Book – Any book sold in bookstores or online mass retailers to the general public.

Trade Dress – Part of trademark Law that protects a product's total image and overall appearance which can include overall packaging design and composition, size, shape, color, texture and graphics.

Trademark (™) – Symbol, word, design, slogan or a combination of designs and words that identifies and distinguishes the products or services of one party from those of another.

Trim – The process of cutting the product to its finished size. The excess that is cut off is also referred to as the trim.

Turnaround Time – The amount of time between receipt of an order and completion and delivery of the finished product.

Type Alignment – Type may be aligned left, right, centered or right-justified as well as top, bottom and center within a text box.

Type Families – Group of typefaces of the same general design but with different variations of weights and/or proportions.

Typeface – Set of characters created by a type designer which typically includes uppercase and lowercase alphabetical characters, numbers, punctuation and special characters.

Typesetting – The process of converting text into type used for printing.

Typography – Style, appearance, style and arrangement of typeset material; fonts.


U&LC – Abbreviation for upper- and lower-case letters.

Ultraviolet –The part of the spectrum where the wavelength of light is shorter than the wavelength of visible light.

Unit – in typography, denotes divisions of the em space used for fine-tuning the letter-spacing of text type; one unit is a thin space or a hair space. Different text editors use different unit divisions: 8, 16, 32 and 64 are common.

Unlimited Rights – Purchase of all usage rights connected with a product for all media in all markets for an unlimited length of time. Long-standing trade custom provides that the artwork may be reproduced by the artist for the purpose of self-promotion and that the artist may display the work. Artist also retains any copyrights.

UV-Coating – A liquid coating applied to the printed piece, which is then bonded and cured with ultraviolet light. This coating is used to provide a protective coating to the printed image. Please note: You CAN NOT easily write or imprint on a uv-coated jobs and it is not a good choice for postcards where you may want to write on one side – it is typically better to opt for no coating for these types of jobs.


Varnish –A thin, liquid protective coating, either glossy or matte, that is applied to the print job. It adds protection and enhances the appearance of the piece. It can be applied as an all-over coating or it can be applied as a spot coating for a custom effect.

Verso – Left-hand page; an odd-numbered page.

Vector Graphic – Images which are drawn in paths or points (vectors) in an illustration program (such as Adobe Illustrator) and allows the image to be resized without losing quality or resolution, without pixelation. This allows unlimited scalability without degrading the image's quality. Images have smooth edges at all sizes and file sizes are smaller than rasterized images. Common vector formats are Adobe Illustrator (AI), Encapsulated PostScript (EPS), Corel Draw (CDR), SVG and vector PDF formats. TrueType, Open Type and Postscript Font files are also vector files. This format is preferred for printing, screen-printing, signage and billboards.

Vignette – A soft fade effect in which the image fades out toward the corners; has a natural tendency to draw the eye toward the center of the photo.

Viral Marketing – Self-propagating marketing tool aimed at replicating 'word of mouth' advertising on the internet or via email. Its goal is to encourage readers to pass along a marketing message.


W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) – International organization that standardizes HTML used by most leading browsers. Its mission is to develop open standards so that the internet evolves in a single direction rather than splintering off into different directions.h

Web Content Management System (WCMS or CMS) – Software that allows users with little knowledge of programming to create and manage content on their website with relative ease.

Weight – Denotes the thickness of a letter stroke, light, extra-light, regular, medium, demi-bold, bold, extra bold, ultra bold, etc.

White Space – Areas where there are no text or graphics; the negative space of the page design, ad design, etc.

Widow – In book design, when there’s only room for one more line at the bottom of the page and that line is the first line of a paragraph, often giving an odd look to the page. (also see 'orphan')

Word Wrap – The automatic dropping of characters to the next line when the right margin is reached in a text editor; also called soft return.

Work-For-Hire – Contract term that can assign the commissioning party copyright of the artwork.

Wraparound – Book jacket design or illustration that encompasses front and back covers and sometimes includes the book flaps.

WYSIWYG (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get) – Interactive mode of computer processing, in which there is a screen representation of the coding or printed output. WYSIWYG is never entirely accurate, because of the difference in resolution between display screens and printers.


X-Height – The height of the lowercase letters as in the lowercase 's'; otherwise referred to as 'body height.'

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