The Design Buffs Glossary

B2B Marketing Design Terms

A Comprehensive Glossary for Marketers
AI file

A vector image format used for original Adobe Illustrator design files.


Alignment refers to the arrangement of elements in a design to create a visually balanced composition. It involves positioning and adjusting various design elements, such as text, images, and objects, relative to each other and the overall layout. Proper alignment helps establish visual order, structure, and clarity in a design, ensuring that elements are placed harmoniously and in a way that supports the intended message or purpose. Alignment can be achieved through techniques like aligning elements along a grid, using consistent margins and spacing, and maintaining visual balance through symmetrical or asymmetrical arrangements.


Ascenders are the upward-extending parts of certain lowercase letters in typography. In typography, ascenders are the portions of lowercase letters that rise above the x-height or the main body of the letterforms. Letters like "b," "d," "f," "h," "k," and "l" often have ascenders. The height and design of ascenders can vary depending on the typeface. Ascenders play a crucial role in legibility and contribute to the overall visual balance and aesthetics of the text.

Adobe Creative Cloud

A suite of creative software applications by Adobe, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and more.


Italics leaning backward.


The baseline is an essential concept in typography that refers to the imaginary line upon which the majority of characters in a line of text rest. It serves as a horizontal reference point for aligning and positioning letters, words, and other typographic elements. The baseline provides a consistent visual foundation, ensuring that the text appears level and organised.


Bleed is a term used in graphic design and printing that refers to the intentional extension of images, colours, or design elements beyond the trim edge of a printed page or document. When a design includes bleed, it means that the design extends beyond the final desired dimensions to ensure that there are no white borders or unintended gaps when the printed piece is trimmed.

Body Copy

Body copy refers to the main text or content within a design, typically found in articles, paragraphs, or blocks of text. It is the primary written information that conveys the main message or provides detailed information about a product, service, or topic.


A heavy weight of any given typeface, often used for emphasis or headers.


Branding is the process of creating a unique and distinct identity for a company, product, or service. It involves strategically crafting and aligning various elements, such as a company's name, logo, tagline, colours, typography, and overall visual style, to create a cohesive and memorable brand image.

Branding goes beyond just visual aesthetics; it encompasses the values, personality, and perception associated with a brand. It involves understanding the target audience, market positioning, and competitive landscape to develop a brand strategy that effectively communicates the desired message and resonates with customers.

Brand Identity

Brand identity refers to the visual and verbal elements, including logo, colours, typography, and tone of voice, that collectively represent and differentiate a brand in the minds of consumers.


Calligraphy is a decorative art form that involves skilled and artistic writing, often using specialised pens or brushes, to create visually appealing lettering and script.

Cap Height

Cap height refers to the height of the capital letters (uppercase) in a typeface, measured from the baseline to the top of the tallest capital letter, such as "H" or "T".


A letter, number, punctuation mark or symbol.

Character Set

An entire collection of characters for any given typeface weight.


CMYK is a colour model used in printing and design, representing four ink colours: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black), which are combined to create a wide range of colors for printed materials.

Complementary Colours

Complementary colours are pairs of colours that are positioned opposite each other on the colour wheel, creating a strong contrast when placed together. When combined, complementary colours enhance each other and create vibrant visual impact in a design.


Contrast refers to the difference in visual properties, such as colour, size, shape, or texture, between elements in a design. It creates visual interest, helps establish hierarchy, and enhances readability by distinguishing different elements from one another.

Crop marks

Crop marks, also known as trim marks or registration marks, are thin lines placed at the corners or edges of a printed piece to indicate where it should be trimmed or cut. They serve as a guide for printers, ensuring accurate and precise trimming of the final printed product to the desired size or dimensions.

Call to Action

A prompt or instruction in a design that encourages the viewer to take a specific action.


Descenders are the downward-extending parts of certain lowercase letters in typography. They are the portions of lowercase letters that extend below the baseline, such as in the letters "g," "j," "p," "q," and "y." Descenders contribute to the overall visual balance and aesthetics of the text, and their design can vary depending on the typeface used.


DPI stands for Dots Per Inch and refers to the resolution or image quality in printing or digital design.

Drop Shadow

A visual effect in which an object or text appears to cast a shadow on the underlying surface.


An image or design that uses two contrasting colours to create a unique and impactful visual effect.


A technique that creates a raised pattern or design on a surface to add a three-dimensional effect.


The visual dominance or focal point in a design that draws the viewer's attention and creates hierarchy.

EPS File

Encapsulated PostScript file format used for storing vector graphics and supporting high-quality printing.


A font refers to a specific style or design of typeface that consists of a set of characters, including letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and symbols, with consistent visual characteristics. Fonts determine the appearance and overall style of text in a design, and they can vary in attributes such as size, weight (e.g., bold or light), and type (e.g., serif or sans-serif).

Font Weight

The visual dominance or focal point in a design that draws the viewer's attention and creates hierarchy.

Font Type

Font type, also known as font category or font classification, refers to the broader categorisation of typefaces based on shared design characteristics.

Flat Design

A design style characterised by minimalistic and two-dimensional elements without shadows or gradients.


A framework of intersecting horizontal and vertical lines used to organise and align design elements.


GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format, a file format that supports both static and animated images.


A smooth transition between two or more colours, often used to add depth and dimension to a design.


Greyscale, also known as grayscale or black and white, refers to an image, design, or display that uses shades of grey (ranging from pure black to pure white) to represent different levels of brightness or intensity. In greyscale, there are no colours present, and the visual information is conveyed solely through variations in lightness or darkness.

Greyscale is often used for artistic, photography, or design purposes to create a sense of simplicity, elegance, or emphasis on form and texture without the distraction of colour.


A gutter refers to the space or margin between columns of text or other design elements within a layout. It is the area of blank space that separates and defines the individual columns, helping to create a visual separation and organization of content. The gutter ensures proper spacing and readability by providing a buffer zone between columns, preventing text or elements from visually blending together or appearing crowded.

Gutter width can vary depending on the design context, such as the size of the columns, the overall page layout, and the medium being used.


Creating custom letters from scratch for a specific purpose/client.


The arrangement of design elements in order of importance to guide the viewer's attention and understanding.

Haptic Design

Designing for touch and tactile experiences, focusing on the physical interaction between user and design.


The different colours on the colour wheel, often used to refer to the pure state of a colour.


A visual representation of information or data, typically using charts, graphs, and illustrations.


A small graphical representation or symbol used to represent a program, function, or content in a design.


A vector graphics editor developed by Adobe, used for creating and editing illustrations and artwork.


Forward-slanting characters, developed in early 1500s.


Instances when text is aligned to the left and right margin within a text frame


Stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, a commonly used file format for compressing and storing images.

JPEG 2000

An improved version of the JPEG file format that provides better compression and image quality.


The adjustment of spacing between individual characters in a font to improve readability and visual appeal.


Keyframe refers to a specific point in a timeline of an animation or video where a significant change or transition occurs. It serves as a reference point that defines the starting and ending states of an element's properties, such as position, size, colour, or opacity, during the animation.


A presentation software by Apple that allows users to create visually appealing slideshows and presentations.


The arrangement of design elements, such as text, images, and whitespace, within a defined space or page.


Leading refers to the vertical spacing between lines of text, determining the distance from one baseline to the next and influencing readability and visual rhythm.


thin, visible outline or border used to separate elements or create boundaries in a design.


Letterpress is a traditional printing technique where inked raised surfaces, typically made of metal or wood, are pressed onto paper, creating a tactile impression and producing a distinct and high-quality printed result.


A ligature is a typographic term that refers to the combination of two or more characters into a single glyph. It is often used to improve the visual appearance and readability of certain letter combinations by creating a more harmonious and aesthetically pleasing connection between the characters.


A logomark, also known as a logo symbol or logo icon, is a distinct and recognisable graphic element or symbol that represents a brand or company. It is a visual representation of the brand identity that can be used independently or in conjunction with the brand name or logotype.

Logomarks are designed to be memorable, versatile, and easily identifiable, conveying the essence of the brand in a concise and graphical way.


A logotype, also known as a wordmark, is a typographic treatment of a brand or company name that is designed in a unique and visually distinctive manner. It typically consists of custom lettering or a stylised arrangement of existing typefaces to create a recognisable and memorable representation of the brand identity.

Logotypes often serve as the primary visual element of a brand and are used to establish brand recognition and consistency across various applications and platforms.


The brightness or lightness of an object or design element, often used to create visual contrast.


A margin refers to the blank space surrounding the content or elements within a design layout. It is the area between the edge of the page or container and the main body of the content. Margins are intentionally left empty to provide visual breathing room, create a sense of balance, and improve readability.

They help separate and define the content from the surrounding space and other design elements. Margins can be adjusted to control the spacing and alignment of the elements within a design, ensuring an aesthetically pleasing and well-structured layout.


A masthead typically refers to the prominent section at the top of a newspaper, magazine, or website that displays the publication's name, logo, and sometimes additional information such as the date, volume, or edition. I

It serves as a distinctive identifier and branding element for the publication, often appearing on every page to provide consistent visual recognition.


Microcopy refers to small snippets of text or short copy that are typically used in user interfaces, websites, applications, or other digital products. It includes labels, instructions, error messages, tooltips, button text, and other concise pieces of text that guide and assist users in their interaction with a product.

Microcopy plays a crucial role in providing clarity, instructions, and feedback to users, helping them navigate, understand, and successfully complete tasks or actions within a digital interface. It is often crafted with attention to language, tone, and usability to ensure a positive user experience.


A visual representation or prototype that shows how a design will look in its final form or context.


A colour scheme that uses variations of a single colour, often with different shades and tints.


Monospaced, or monospaced font, refers to a typeface in which each character occupies the same fixed width or amount of space. Unlike proportional fonts, where characters have varying widths to optimise spacing, monospaced fonts allocate the same amount of horizontal space to each character, regardless of its actual width.

Monospaced fonts are commonly used in programming, coding, and typewriter-style designs, as they facilitate alignment and create a consistent appearance when working with text-based data or code.

Mood Board

A visual collage or collection of images, textures, colours, and other elements used for inspiration.

Negative Space

The empty or blank space around and between design elements, which helps to define shapes and enhance focus.


The design and organisation of menus, links, and buttons that allow users to navigate a website or app.


A bright, vibrant, and intense colour often associated with neon signs and retro design styles.


The degree of transparency or visibility of an element or layer in a design, ranging from solid to transparent.


Decorative elements, patterns, or motifs used to embellish a design or add visual interest.


In typography, an orphan refers to a single word, part of a word, or a short line of text that appears alone at the beginning or end of a paragraph or column.

Orphans are considered undesirable because they create visual disruption and can negatively impact readability and the overall flow of the text. Designers often adjust the spacing or rearrange the text to avoid orphans and ensure a more visually pleasing and harmonious composition.

Offset Printing

A traditional printing technique that transfers ink from a plate to a rubber blanket before printing.


Padding refers to the space between the content or elements and the boundary or edges of a container or layout. It is the distance between the content and the outer edges of a defined area. Padding is used to create spacing and breathing room around elements, ensuring proper visual separation and improving the overall aesthetics and readability of the design.

Padding provides a cushion or buffer between the content and the container, preventing elements from appearing cramped or crowded. Designers adjust the padding to achieve a balanced and visually pleasing composition, considering factors such as spacing hierarchy, proportions, and the desired user experience.


A palette, in design, refers to a carefully selected set of colors used in a specific project or for a particular brand. It consists of a collection of colours that work harmoniously together and are used consistently throughout the design to create a cohesive and unified visual identity.

The colour palette helps establish the overall mood, aesthetics, and brand recognition by providing a consistent and recognisable colour scheme for various design elements.

Pantone (PMS)

A standardised colour matching system used in printing and design to ensure consistent colour reproduction.


A pixel, short for "picture element," is the smallest unit of a digital image or display. It is a tiny square or dot that represents a single point of colour.

Pixels are arranged in a grid pattern, and their combination creates the images we see on screens or digital devices. The resolution of a display refers to the number of pixels it contains, with higher resolutions resulting in sharper and more detailed images.


A placeholder is a temporary or generic piece of content used as a substitute for the final or actual content in a design or layout. It is commonly used when creating prototypes, wireframes, or templates to represent where specific content elements, such as text, images, or media, will be inserted at a later stage.

Placeholders help visualise the overall structure and layout of a design and provide guidance for content placement before the final content is available.

Point Size

Point size refers to the measurement of the height of a particular typeface, typically measured in points. In typography, a point is a unit of measurement used to determine the size of fonts and other typographic elements.

One point is equal to 1/72 of an inch. The point size indicates the height of the tallest characters in a font, typically from the top of the ascenders to the bottom of the descenders.

For example, a 12-point font has characters that are approximately 12/72 of an inch in height. Point size is an important factor in determining the legibility and visual impact of text in a design.


A preliminary model or version of a design, often used for testing, feedback, and demonstration purposes.


The relationship between different elements in a design, often based on size, scale, or ratio.

Quality Control

The process of ensuring that a design or product meets the desired standards of quality through systematic inspection, testing, and corrective measures.

Quick Sketch

A rough and rapid freehand drawing or outline that captures basic visual concepts or ideas, serving as a preliminary step in the design process.

Raster Image

Another kind of graphic image, a raster (which can also be called a bitmap image) is an image made up of a certain number of pixels. Each pixel has its own colour, hue, saturation and transparency which helps to make up the image as a whole.

Unlike vectors, due to them being made up of pixels, raster images will lose quality and become blurry as they’re resized.


Degree to which text can easily be read.


Repetition simply means using the same element in a design more than once. It can create a sense of unity, cohesion and consistency.


The term resolution refers to the number of units, measured in either DPI or PPI, that occupy a linear inch an image, both on screen and in print. Resolution is used to denote the quality of an image – it can generally be assumed that the higher the resolution, the better the quality of the image. You can tell if the resolution is too low as the image will appear blurry or pixelated.

Responsive Design

The practice of designing and developing websites or applications that adapt and respond to different screen sizes and devices, ensuring optimal user experience and usability.


A colour model that represents colours using combinations of red, green, and blue light, which are added together in varying intensities to create a wide range of colours on digital displays.

Rule of Thirds

A compositional guideline in design and photography that suggests dividing an image or layout into nine equal parts using two horizontal and two vertical lines, with important elements placed along these lines or at their intersections for visual balance and interest.


A typeface category characterised by small decorative strokes or serifs at the ends of characters, often associated with a more traditional or formal aesthetic.


A typeface category without the decorative strokes or serifs, known for its clean and modern appearance, commonly used for digital and contemporary designs.


The visual balance achieved by arranging elements or design components in a way that is evenly balanced and mirrored on either side of a central axis, creating a sense of harmony and order.


Refers to the intensity or purity of a colour. It describes how vibrant or dull a colour appears, with high saturation indicating intense, vivid colours and low saturation indicating more muted or grayscale tones.


The relative size of elements within a design or composition. Scale helps create visual hierarchy, establish proportions, and convey the importance or emphasis of specific elements.


A curved stroke connected to a stem.


A visual planning technique used in various design disciplines, such as film, animation, or user experience design, where a sequence of sketches or panels are used to outline the flow, structure, and key elements of a narrative or user journey.

Stock Photo

Stock photos are licensed images that designers are able to use so they don’t have to organise an entire photoshoot to get the images they need for a project.


Any linear feature on a letter.

Style Guide

A style guide, also known as a brand style guide or design style guide, is a comprehensive document that outlines the guidelines and standards for the visual and verbal elements of a brand or design project.

It provides instructions on logo usage, typography, colour palettes, imagery, tone of voice, and other key design elements to ensure consistency and cohesion across various communication channels and materials.


Texture refers to the perceived surface quality or tactile sensation of a design element. In visual design, texture can be implied or simulated through the use of patterns, gradients, or visual effects to create the illusion of different textures, such as rough, smooth, gritty, or soft. The inclusion of texture adds depth, visual interest, and a sense of realism to a design.


In typography, a terminal refers to the end point or finishing stroke of a letterform's main stroke or the stroke that terminates a curved or diagonal element. It is commonly seen in characters such as "a," "c," "e," "s," and "y." Terminals can be straight, curved, or angled, and their design contributes to the overall aesthetic and readability of a typeface.


A thumbnail refers to a small, scaled-down version or preview image that provides a quick visual representation of a larger image or content. Thumbnails are often used in digital interfaces, websites, or media galleries to allow users to preview and navigate through a collection of images or videos.

They serve as visual cues that help users identify and select specific content before accessing the full-size version.


Tracking, also known as letter-spacing, refers to the adjustment of the horizontal spacing between characters in a block of text. It involves uniformly increasing or decreasing the space between letters to achieve the desired visual effect or improve readability.

Tracking can be used to create a more open or compact appearance of text, adjust the overall density of a paragraph, or enhance the visual balance of typography.

TrueType Font

An open font format designed to ensure fonts look the same on Mac, PC or in print and can be enlarged or shrunk to almost any size.


Typesetting is the process of arranging and formatting text in a visually appealing and readable manner. It involves selecting appropriate fonts, adjusting font sizes, leading, tracking, and other typographic elements to create a well-structured and aesthetically pleasing composition.

Typesetting is commonly used in publishing, print design, and digital design to ensure optimal readability, hierarchy, and overall visual presentation of textual content.


Typography refers to the art and technique of arranging and designing typefaces, fonts, and text to convey a message or communicate information. It involves selecting appropriate typefaces, setting type sizes, line spacing, letter spacing, and adjusting other typographic elements to create visually appealing and readable text.

Typography plays a crucial role in visual communication, influencing the overall aesthetic, tone, and readability of written content in various media such as print, web, and mobile.


Uppercase characters are the capital letters of the alphabet. Uppercase letters are normally used at the beginning of sentences and as the first letter of proper names.

User Experience (UX)

User Experience refers to the overall experience and interaction that users have with a product, system, or service. It encompasses factors such as ease of use, efficiency, satisfaction, and emotional response, with the goal of enhancing the usability and enjoyment of the user.

User Interface (UI)

User Interface refers to the visual elements and interactive components that facilitate user interactions with a digital product or system. It includes elements such as buttons, menus, forms, and other graphical elements that users interact with to navigate and engage with a digital interface.


Unity in design refers to the visual harmony and cohesiveness achieved through the arrangement and relationship of design elements. It involves creating a sense of balance, consistency, and coherence, ensuring that all the elements in a design work together to convey a unified and cohesive message or aesthetic.

Vector Graphics

Vector Graphics are digital images composed of mathematical formulas and geometric shapes, which allows them to be infinitely scalable without losing quality. They are created using vector-based software and are commonly used for logos, illustrations, and other graphics that require scalability and crisp lines.

Visual Design

Visual Design is the practice of creating and arranging visual elements, such as images, typography, colours, and layout, to communicate messages, evoke emotions, and enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of a design.

It involves combining principles of design, such as balance, contrast, hierarchy, and harmony, to create visually compelling and engaging experiences across various media platforms and projects.

Visual Hierarchy

Visual Hierarchy refers to the arrangement and prioritisation of design elements based on their importance, allowing the viewer to understand the information in a structured and intuitive manner. It involves using techniques such as size, colour, contrast, and placement to create a clear order of significance and guide the viewer's attention through the design.

White Space

White Space, also known as negative space, refers to the intentionally empty or unmarked areas in a design composition. It is the absence of content or visual elements and can be in the form of blank spaces between text, images, or graphic elements.

White space plays a crucial role in design as it provides visual breathing room, enhances readability, improves clarity, and creates a sense of balance and elegance. It helps guide the viewer's attention, separates different elements, and contributes to the overall aesthetics and composition of a design.


In typography, a widow refers to a short line or a single word at the end of a paragraph that appears alone on the following page or column. It is considered undesirable as it disrupts the visual flow and can create awkward spacing or imbalance in the layout.

Designers often adjust the text or layout to prevent widows by increasing or decreasing the spacing, rewording the content, or manually adjusting line breaks to maintain a more visually pleasing and balanced composition.


X-height refers to the height of the lowercase letter "x" in a typeface relative to the overall size of the font. It is a fundamental typographic measurement that determines the relative proportions and visual appearance of lowercase characters in a typeface.

The x-height can vary among typefaces, with some having a larger x-height, resulting in more prominent and legible lowercase letters, while others have a smaller x-height, giving a more compact and condensed appearance to the text. The x-height plays a significant role in determining the overall readability and visual balance of a typeface.

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