Graphic Design Glossary

Jargons of our trade

Sans-serif typeface: A typeface that has no serifs such as Helvetica or Swiss. The stroke weight is usually uniform and the stress oblique however there are exceptions.

Scaling: This is a reduction or an enlargement of artwork, which can be proportional or disproportional. In desktop publishing, the term optimal scaling of bitmaps refers to the reduction or enlargement that will evade or decrease moir patterns.

Screen font: Low screen resolution bitmaps of type characters that show the positioning and size of characters on the screen. As opposed to a printer font, which may be high-resolution bitmaps, or font outline masters.

Screen (tint): In graphic art, it is a uniform dotted fill pattern described in percentage

Script: joined and graceful letters resembling hand writing with a pen or quill. Either slanted or upright, in same cases with a left hand slant.

Serif: In a typeface it is a counterstroke on letterforms which projects from the ends of the main strokes such as Times or Dutch. In the case of typefaces that have no serifs, they are called sans serif.

Set width: In type, it is the horizontal width of characters. Typefaces vary in the typical horizontal set width of each character and set widths of individual characters vary in typeset copy depending on the shape of the character and the surrounding characters.

Sidebar: In a newsletter or magazine layout, this is a related story or block of information that is set apart from the main body of text and usually boxed and/or screened.

Small caps: This refers to capital letters set at the x-height of the font.

Solarization: A photographic image in which both blacks and whites appear to be black and mid-tones approach white.

Solid: This are lines of type with no space between the lines

Spot colour separation: Used in offset printing for the separation of solid premixed ink colors such as green, brown, light olive, etc... used when the areas to be colored are not flanking. Spot colour divisions can be indicated on the tissue cover of the mechanical or can be made with overlays.

Spread: In a double-sided document the arrangement of two facing pages which are designed as a unit. It is also the neighboring inside panels of a brochure when opened.

Standing elements: In page design, it is the elements that replicate exactly from page to page however, not only in terms of style but also in terms of page position and content. The most commonly used standing elements are page headers or footers with automatic page numbering.

Standoff: It is the amount of space between a block of text and a graphic or in between two blocks of text that wrap.

Stress: In a typeface, the stress is the axis around which the strokes are drawn: oblique or vertical. Not to be confused with the angle of the strokes themselves.

Stroke weight: In a typeface, it is the amount of contrast between thick and thin strokes. Different typefaces have distinguishing stroke-weight characteristics.

Style sheet: In a DTP program, the style sheets contain the typographic qualifications to be related with tagged text. They can be used to place titles, headings, and the attributes of blocks of text such as lists, tables and text associated with illustrations.

Subhead: Is a secondary phrase that comes after the headline. The subhead is normally of less in size and importance than the main headline or headlines.

Subscript: This is a character somewhat smaller than the rest of the font that is set below the baseline. It is used in chemical equations and as base denotation in math and sometimes as the denominator of fractions.

Superscript: A character that is somewhat smaller than the rest of the font and set above the baseline. Used for footnote markers and sometimes it is used as the numerator of fractions.


Tabloid-sized page: A page that measures 11" x 17" and most often used in portrait orientation for newspapers.

Tags: For style sheets, it is delimited sets of characters embedded in the text or internally coded. Tags apply to paragraphs. This includes titles and headings and designates the function of paragraphs. The actual type requirements depend on the style sheet that is associated with the tag.

Template: In page design, it is a file with an associated style sheet, all standing and serial elements in place on a master or base page.

Text wrap: This is the spatial relationship between blocks of text and graphics or between two blocks of text.

Thumbnails: These are tiny pictures sketched as first design ideas like thinking on paper or on the screen.

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format): This is for digital gray-scale halftones and is a device-independent graphics file format. TIFF files can be used on IBM/compatible or Macintosh computers and may be output to PostScript printers.

Tiling (tile): Refers to printing a page layout in sections with overlying edges so that the individual pieces can be pasted together.

Tombstoning: In multicolumn publications, when two or more headings are in the same horizontal position on the page.

Track: In type, track is to reduce space uniformly between all the characters in a line.

Type alignment: The distribution of white space in a line of type where the characters at their normal set width do not fill the complete line length exactly. Type can be aligned left, right, centered or right justified.

Typeface: This is the set of characters created by a type designer including uppercase and lowercase alphabetical characters, numbers, punctuation and other special characters. A single typeface contains many fonts at different sizes and styles.

Type families: This is a group of typefaces of the same base design however, with different weights and proportions


U&lc: An industry abbreviation for upper and lowercase.

Unit: In type, it is the divisions of the em space used for fine-tuning the letter spacing of text type. Different typesetting systems and DTP software use different unit divisions: 8, 16, 32, and 64 are common. One unit is a thin space or a hair space.


Verso: In a double-sided document, it is the page that appears on the left side of the spread. An odd-numbered page.


Weight: This denotes the thickness of a letter stroke, light, extra-light, regular, medium, demi-bold, bold, extra bold, and ultra bold.

White space: In designing publications, it is the areas where there is no text or graphics it is essentially the negative space of the page design.

Widow: In a page layout, it is the short last lines of paragraphs that are usually undesirable when separated from the rest of the paragraph by a column break and always intolerable when separated by a page break.

Word wrap: In a word processor or text editor, it is the automatic dropping of characters to the next line when the right hand margin is reached.

WYSIWYG (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get): This is an interactive mode of computer processing in which there is an actual screen representation of the printed output. WYSIWYG is never completely accurate because of the difference in resolution between display screens and printers.


X-height: This is the height of the lowercase letters

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