140822_DesignTerms1

Graphic design is a language all its own. To be understood and heard by your designers, best to speak their language. It gets things done! In the first of this two-part series, we give you a glossary of the most useful terms when working on design projects.

1.    Serif
A serif is a small line at the end of each letter. The way I like to think of it is serif = “with feet.” Take Times New Roman, for example. Think of the small lines (or feet) on the end of those letters. That’s a serif.

2.    Sans Serif
The word sans in French means “without.” So think of letters “without feet” or “without serif.” Helvetica and Arial are two common sans serif typefaces.

3.    Tracking/letter-spacing
The spacing between an entire word, sentence or block of text.

4.    Kerning
The spacing between two letters. Don’t confuse it with tracking. Take the word “To,” for example. When you type it, the “T” and the “o” can be too far from each other at first, creating an awkward space that detracts from legibility. A key to remember when kerning is TNT: Tight but Not Touching. This is most important when setting type for headlines or subheads.

5.    Leading/line-spacing
The spacing between entire lines of text. In the old days of hand-setting metal type, the “leading” was actual strips of lead used to separate lines. Imagine four sentences stacked on top of each other. As a quick guide, if you are using 14-point type, optimal leading would be 16 points.

6.    Orphans/Widows
An orphan occurs when the first line of a paragraph is set as the last line on a page, creating an annoying break for the reader. Widows are when one word is left dangling on its own at the end of a paragraph. They look lonely and are often neglected when a paragraph is quickly read. So, we try to remove them.

7.    Negative Space/White Space
The space around and between images, type and layout boundaries. It plays a vital role in creating visual cohesion, balance and legibility in design. Think of it as breathing room for design elements.

8.    Vector graphic
A digital image made up of individual points connected along a path. This allows the object to be scaled to any size without losing quality or becoming pixelated. Vector graphics print crisp and clean. Designers will love you if you send them your logo as a vector file. Common vector file formats include the file extensions .EPS, .AI or .PDF.

9.    Raster
An image made up of individual pixels. A good rule of thumb for clear image quality is 72 dpi for onscreen and 300 dpi for print. Raster images include digital photos and are commonly edited using Adobe Photoshop. File formats include .JPEG, .TIFF and .PSD.

10.    Resolution
The measurement of dpi (dots per inch) or ppi (pixels per inch). Dpi is used for printing projects, and ppi is used for web projects. When using images for print, you want to make sure your resolution is at least 300 dpi. When using images on the web, make sure you have at least 72 ppi or the optimum resolution for your intended device. If your resolution is too low, you’ll end up with grainy or blurry images.

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