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Building Blocks Creative Design - Glossary

Glossary of Design Terms


Above the fold - This is the space on a webpage that is viewed without the need to scroll down the browser window. The area that is viewable above the fold is a relative term dependent on the size and resolution of the viewer’s computer monitor.

Adobe Acrobat – A suite of applications created by Adobe to create and view PDF files.

Aliasing – In graphic design aliasing occurs when a computer monitor, printer, or graphics file does not have a high enough resolution to represent a graphic image or text.

Alignment – The positioning of a text or images. Text can be positioned to the left, right, or “center” of a page.

Anti-Aliasing – Smoothing or blending the transition of pixels in an image. Anti-aliasing the edges on a graphic image makes the edges appear smooth, not jagged.

Ascender – In typography, the parts of lowercase letters that rise above the x-height of the font, e.g. b, d, f, h, k, I, and t.


Bandwidth - This is a method of measuring the amount of digital information that can be transported over a network within a period of time.

Banner - A graphic image used on Web sites to advertise a product or service.

Bevel - Adding a beveled effect to a graphic image gives the image a raised appearance by applying highlight colours and shadow colours to the inside and outside edges.

Bitmap Graphic - A bitmap image is a graphics file that is made up of pixels. It’s quality and usable size are defined by the number of pixels per square inch (PPI). In direct contrast to a vector graphic image, bitmap images will lose quality if they are enlarged and gain quality if they are reduced in size.

Bleed – Method used in print to have ink printed right up to the edge of a page. The way this is done is by having the document printed on a larger page and trimmed to size.

Breadcrumbs – Breadcrumbs are a form of web site navigation that displays information to the user as to the depth that they have navigated to within a web site, or section of a web site.

Browser – A program for viewing websites. We highly recommend Firefox or Safari.


Caption – An identification (title) for an illustration or photo, usually a brief phrase.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) - Cascading Style Sheets are a Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) specification that allows the web developer to use codes to describe how a pages contents should look. In particular it is used for styling and laying out text, paragraphs and headings.

CMYK – The initials of the four process colours. They are cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. K is used for black to not confuse people into thinking it is blue.

Cookie - A cookie is a message given to a web browser by a web server. The purpose of cookies is to identify web site users/visitors and possibly prepare customized web pages for them.

Copy – Generally refers to text – typewritten pages, word-processing files, typeset galleys or pages – although sometimes refers to all source materials (text and graphics) used in a publication.

Creative Brief – A creative brief is a document that outlines the strategic direction for creative development, covering the specific task at hand, the communication objectives and strategy, and any elements that the executions must contain.

Crop Marks – Crop marks on a mechanical, horizontal and vertical lines that indicate the edge of the printed piece.

Cropping - Cropping is the trimming of an image to focus in an area of the image and discarding the unwanted areas.

Cross Browser Compatibility – Cross browser compatibility is the aim of most web designers, and is the process of ensuring a website is as similar as possible across all of the available browsers.


Descender - The part of a lowercase letter that falls below the body (baseline) of the letter, g, j, p, q and y.

Disk Space - The “space” that is set aside for virtual memory for files.

Domain - A domain could be seen as an internet metaphor for a virtual home or office. These domains have been given identifiable names in this format, They have been sub-divided into various categories, such as .com,, .gov etc. These are known as domain names.

Download - Downloading is the copying or transferring of information from a remote server to your local computer.

Drop Shadow – A drop shadow gives an image depth by creating a shading offset behind a selected image.


E-Commerce – E-commerce, or electronic commerce, is a term that describes web based and online business.

Embossing – Embossing a graphic image adds dimension to it by making the image appear as if it were carved as a projection from a flat background.

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.

EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) – A common file format for exporting Illustrator files, it contains a bitmap preview of the image as well as instructions written in the PostScript language that describes how the object is to be printed.

Export – Exporting allows the user to save the file in another format to be opened in other programs.


Favicon - A favicon (short for favourites icon), also known as a website icon, shortcut icon, url icon, or bookmark icon, is a square icon associated with a particular website or webpage. A web designer can create such an icon and install it into a website (or webpage) and most graphical web browsers will then make use of it. Browsers that provide favicon support typically display a page’s favicon in the browser’s address bar and next to the page’s name in a list of bookmarks.

Feather - Feathering the edge of a graphic image gradually dissipates the edge, making the edge look blurry.

Flash - Flash is used to create vector graphics-based animation programs with full-screen navigation interfaces, graphic illustrations, and simple interactivity in an antialiased, resizable file format that is small enough to stream across a normal modem connection.

Font - This is the letters, punctuation, numbers and symbols that make up a single typeface.

Forum – An internet-based discussion board for users to discuss any number of subjects with other members.


Gradient – This is a gradual transition of two or more colours.

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) - GIF images are used extensively on web sites because they can be compressed to a very small file size. GIFs are made smaller by excluding as many shades of colour as possible, whilst still maintaining a reasonable representation of the image.

Greyscale – This is a colour mode where there are no colours in use. There is just black, white, and various shades in between. In the print world, a greyscale image is actually made up of just black ink. The value of the grey depends on the density and size of the black dots printed. In photographs, halftones are produced to simulate various shades.


Hexadecimal – A numbering system which is used to colour web pages.

Hyper Text Markup Language – HTML is the basic mark-up language of the web. All the pages that are viewed on web sites use HTML to some degree.

Home Page – This is generally the landing page of a web site and the first thing viewers see when visiting a web site.

Host - A web host provides server space, web services and file maintenance for web sites controlled by individuals or companies that do not have their own web servers.

Hue - This is another term for colour.


Illustrator – Adobe Illustrator is a vector-based drawing program. It is used to create print quality line-art drawings, such as logos, illustrations and maps. Although it uses its own proprietary file format, .ai, Adobe Illustrator can also save files in .EPS format for importing into page layout programs such as QuarkXpress and Adobe InDesign.

InDesign - Adobe InDesign is a professional design layout package.


JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) – This is the main format used on the Internet (and elsewhere) for photographic/continuous toned images. Because the Jpeg format uses compression, you can often obtain much smaller file sizes and still maintain photographic quality.


Kerning - This is the process of selectively adjusting the spacing between letters pairs to improve the overall appearance.

Keywords - The keyword meta-tag that is used in HTML pages. Secondly, keywords, or keyphrases, are words that are entered into an search engine box.


Landscape – The orientation of a document that is to display a page length wise instead of up and down.

Leading – This is the distance between the baseline of one line of text to the next baseline of text.

Link – A link is a graphic, or word on a web page that, when clicked, takes the user to another web page, web site or file download.


Mailing List – Users subscribe to a mailing list, which are for interested parties to receive information about the web site, or relevant news and updates.

Meta-tags – Meta-tages are HTML tags that can be used to identify the creator of a web page, what HTML specifications a web page follows, the keywords and description of the page, etc. The most common use of a meta-tag in online marketing is the keyword and description tags, which tell the search engine that index meta-tags what description to use in their search query results.


Nameserver – A nameserver is a computer server that is able to convert (resolve) the name of a domain into its corresponding IP address(and visa versa).


Outline – In graphic design, tracing of the outer edge of text or a graphic image.


PDF (Portable Document Format) – This format developed by Adobe makes it possible to keep the exact fonts, format, and layout of a document across any platform. These files can be created in Adobe Acrobat, or any program that can output to PDF. An Adobe Acrobat Reader is needed to view these files.

Photoshop - Adobe Photoshop is the graphics industry’s standard photographic image manipulation program. Developed originally for Photographers and high-end photo retouchers, Photoshop is now used by practically every single design agency in the World.

PNG (Portable Networks Graphic) – The Portable Network Graphics file format was developed primarily for web site design to replace gif files. It has a number of advantages over the gif file formats in that it supports millions of colours (24 bit), image transparency and can have its file size compressed without loss of image quality – unlike JPEGs which lose quality as they are compressed.

Portrait – The orientation of a document that displays the longest sides of the document vertically.

Process Colour – Colours that are made up of the CMYK. By using halftones, you can obtain photographic full color images using just CMYK. Also known as Full Colour.


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RGB – Red, Green, Blue. This is the common colour space used on computers. Website graphics are saved as RGB, as well as other output that involves a monitor. Colours are determined by mixing these 3 colours together with values ranging from 0 to 255.

Resolution – This determines the detail of an image based on the amount of pixels. More pixels means higher resolution. The higher the resolution, the better the printed output.


San Serif - This is type that lacks the strokes or “feet” on the end of letters that can be found on a Serif Typeface. An example of a typeface that is San Serif is Arial.

Search Engine - Google, Yahoo and others are popular search engines that enable users to find other web sites and internet resources. Search engines work by indexing the web and adding web site information into a set of massive databases.

Serif – These are the exaggerated strokes at the ends of letters. Type that has these markings are known as Serif type. An example of a typeface that has serifs is Times New Roman.

Spam - Spam is used in reference to any unwanted internet communication. This can range from bulk and junk emails to advertising messages posted on discussion forums.

Stock Photography – Stock photography is photos that have already been taken.


Template – In page design, a file with an associated style sheet and all standing and serial elements in place on a master or base page, used for publication following the same design.

Typeface – A typeface contains a series of fonts. For example, the typeface Arial contains the fonts Arial, Arial Bold, Arial Italic and Arial Bold Italic.


Upload - To copy or transfer files from your local computer onto a remote server.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator ) – A URL is an address referring to a document on the Internet. In other words, it is the address of an individual web page element or web document on the Internet. The syntax of a URL consists of three elements: the protocol, the domain name, and the path name.


Vector – Vectors are illustrations made from programs like Adobe Illustrator. Vector graphics work by defining points and what fills the space between those points in a document and they are stored as mathematical formulas.


Weight – Denotes the thickness of a letter stroke, light, extra-light, “regular,” medium, semi-bold, bold, extra bold and ultra bold.

Whitespace – In designing publication, the areas where there is no text or graphics – essentially, the negative space of the page design.

Widow - This is a single word or line of text that is left on the top of a page or column that was continued from a previous page or column. This is a no no in page layout.

WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) – This is a term used for applications that show how a graphic, text or layout will look while you are editing it.


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Zip – A format for compressing digital files to reduce their size for internet transmission


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