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  • Writer's pictureLindsey McGlone


Have you ever chatted with a graphic designer and felt like they were speaking a completely different language? In some cases that might be true... There's no better time than now to get your feet wet and learn a little basic design lingo! Understanding some simple design terms can absolutely help you better relay to your designer what it is you are looking for - and on the other hand can help your designer communicate with you regarding what they suggest from a design perspective.

You should always feel comfortable enough with your designer that at any point in time you can ask questions regarding the design process and any design terms/lingo. You should never feel intimidated. Knowledge is power and we want to empower you!



The organization, style and appearance of written word. Visually displayed text is considered typography - whether on posters, billboard, websites, social media posts, you name it! Within the realm of typography, there are different classifications of typefaces or "fonts."

Serif, Sans-Serif and Script are a few basic styles of typefaces. Serif type has little extra strokes at the end of each letter. Sans-Serif type does not have these extra strokes - hence the name "sans" (without). Script is a pretty well-known form of type which mimics handwriting with a fluid motion. (*Note - the body copy of this blog is set in a sans-serif type!)


The organization of a piece based on the importance of content. Believe it or not, hierarchy can be one of the most important pieces of the design puzzle. In any piece of design, there are elements that you want to call attention to and prioritize - and other elements that take the back seat in your design and can be read/viewed last. Many times the hierarchy of a design piece guides your eye through a design piece and directs you where to look next. Hierarchy can be achieved through type size, boldness, color - and sometimes the placement of imagery.


Color is another element of design that is crucial. There are several different color spaces that designers work in and for different purposes. Designers typically work in RGB color space when creating artwork for web and social media purposes because our TV and computer monitors typically output in RGB. CYMK is typically used in printed collateral such as posters, magazines, invitations, etc. Another color space often used by designers is PMS (Pantone matching system). When working in PMS, each color has its own specified color number which makes it easier for printers to produce an exact color.


So many times you'll hear us designers talking about the resolution of your images. The resolution of an image is so important when it comes to its quality and clarity. Using high resolution images (typically at least 300 dpi/1mb) is extremely important when working with printed collateral. Low resolution images can sometimes be viewed as blurred or pixelated when printed. If you are working with a graphic designer, they will always stress the importance of using high resolution photos to have the most professional looking and impactful design pieces.


A "bleed" primary refers to the printed art of a design going off the edges of a page (no white margin!). Designs typically look more professional when they bleed. Your graphic designer needs to know if you want your printed piece to bleed before they start the design process so they are able to set their documents up properly for when they are sent off to a printer. A bleed is basically an extra eighth inch of image/color that extends beyond the trim area of your printed piece. Your design is printed on an oversized sheet of paper that is then trimmed down to size - making the image look like it is “bleeding” off the trimmed edge of your paper.


If you are working with a graphic designer, I can almost guarantee you have been asked for your logo artwork in vector format. That can definitely be intimidating if you don't know what "vector" means! If you have had your logo professionally designed, you most likely already have your logo in vector format (the file name typically ends in .ai, .eps, or .svg). A piece of vector artwork is made up of lines and shapes. This type of artwork is typically sought out over other file types like .jpegs, .pngs, and such because vector artwork can be scaled to any size without losing its detail. So your vector artwork can be blown up to the size of a billboard (or even bigger - the sky's the limit) and still hold its integrity and be viewed as a clean, crisp image.


I truly hope that this little "design lingo" lesson has helped you understand some of the language your graphic designer has probably used with you along the way. Don't ever be afraid to ask questions - we love chatting about design and everything it encompasses - so ask away, we're here to help!


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