A foolproof guide to graphic design terms.

I wouldn’t be a huge fan of trying to decipher Chinese, so why should clients have to decipher design terminology?

Our goal is to provide you with a high standard of design, but we also want to make the design process a pleasurable one, which is naturally easier if everyone understands one another! To minimise undue stress we’ve gathered a list of the most common terms in a designer’s day-to-day toolbox.


We don’t expect to get everything perfect on the first go – where’s the fun in that?! Each version of a design that we do before reaching the final product is called a proof. Generally speaking we provide clients with two PDF proofs included in the price of the design.


The finished design file ready to send off to the printers.


The bleed is the area of print that goes past where the sheet will be trimmed. We need to give the printer allowances for tiny movements while cutting, so we always ask advertisers to send their artwork with a 3mm bleed.


Digital images are made up of thousands of blocks of colour called pixels. The more pixels an image has, the higher its resolution. To be considered ‘hi-res’ an image needs to be 300 ppi (pixels per inch). Generally speaking if you send us an image that you took on your swanky new iPhone, we will reply requesting a hi-res version from your photographer. It is also worth noting, that any image you save from the internet – no matter how clear it looks on your screen will be 72 ppi and un-usable for print (unless you don’t mind appearing very blurry!)


At a basic level, typography is the art of arranging type on a page/screen. Delve deeper and it’s the study of typefaces, their pairings and the hierarchy and scale of all the elements on the page. It’s taking a lot of things into consideration to come to an effortlessly stylish and clear end product.

Body copy

The main text area of the page.


A heading given to a body of text. If you have a lot of body copy, you could break it up with some aptly placed subheads to give the reader a break.

Ice cream

Not a design term, but a damn good idea.


People like pictures better than text – let’s not argue, they just do. So why not draw what you mean instead of writing it? An infographic is a visual representation of, you guessed it, information. Through use of colour and illustrations, we can turn a dull table into an attention-grabbing stand-alone page that will stick with the reader.

Comic Sans

The devil. Just don’t do it.


The little tails or feet you see on letters when using fonts like Times New Roman, or Garamond.


Sans-serif fonts lack the tails or feet mentioned above, and are generally considered more modern.

White space

While some people perceive this empty area as a challenge to pack full of text, designers love white – or negative space. When used correctly it gives life to the elements on the page, while also allowing them the space to breath. The Google homepage is an excellent example of the use of white space, encouraging users to focus on the reason that they are there, and Search!


The colour on my screen looks different to your screen looks different to her screen, and so on so forth.

To avoid nasty surprises, designers worldwide use Pantone colours. They are industry standard numbered colours that you can choose from one of their handy books, and ensure that you are never shocked by how a block of colour appears in print vs your screen again. Generally your companies’ brand guidelines will provide you with a number of predetermined Pantone shades for use in print.

NB. You can also buy Pantone mugs in your favourite shade – I’ll take one in Living Coral, thanks.