CMYK, Serif, & Things You Should Know Before Speaking With a Designer

April 12, 2016

When it comes to design and branding, there are many terms that get thrown around that you may not fully understand. Unless you’ve gone to school for branding and design, you may need some additional help when these terms and concepts show up. No big deal! At Tailor Brands, we’re committed to making sure that you are able to fully take control of how your brand is conveyed to the world, and part of that is having a core understanding of important concepts. Broken down, A-Z, are the top terms you should know about design and branding!


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Above the Fold: A term originally meaning the text and images that were on the upper half of the front of a newspaper, but commonly refers to the section of the web page immediately viewable without scrolling. This is where you want to highlight important information.

Achromatic: Having no color except for black, white, and gray.

Additive Color Mixing: A type of color mixing whereby red, blue, and green are mixed together in order to create other colors on the spectrum. Most computers use this type of mixing.

AI: Shorthand for Adobe Illustrator, a program used to modify images. This can also refer to the type of file used by Illustrator.

Aliasing: When the edge of an image on a computer screen displays a jagged appearance, oftentimes looking like the steps of a stair.

Alignment: The way that images or text is positioned on a page by a horizontal or vertical line. Alignment can be left, right, or centered.

Analogous Colors: On the color wheel, these colors lie directly to the sides of the chosen color.

Apex: The point at the top of a character of type.

Arms: In type, the points of the letter that stick out from the stem, such as “K”.

Ascender: In type, the ascender is the portion of the letter that raises above the main portion of the letter. This is seen in letters such as “b” “d” “k” and “h”.

Aspect Ratio: The difference between the height and width of any object.

Asymmetry: When a line is applied in the center of the image and both sides are not completely identical.


Backslant: Letters that slant to the left instead of the right.

Bad Break: Any break in the text or copy that causes awkward sight or reading, usually referring to one word sticking out before of after a chunk of text.

Balance: Term used to describe how the elements on a page work together.

Banner: Large headlines that take over the width of a page, both print and web.

Baseline: The line all letters sit upon.

Blend: Smooth transition from one color or tint to another one.

Block Text: Paragraphs that are set without indents, looking like a “block” of words.

Body Type: The main typeface used in the printed text.

Brilliance: Expression of the brightness of a color.


Cap Height: Looking at a capital letter, this is the distance from the baseline to the top of the letter.

Character: Any singular letter, number, space, or mark used in a text.

Character Set: The total number of letters, numbers, punctuation, and more that make up a specific font.

Clip Art: Ready made artwork intended for publications.

CMYK Color Model: Printing design that uses cyan, magenta, yellow, and black to make up color based on the way that paper absorbs light.

Cold Copy: Color that tends to err on the blue side of the color wheel.

Color: The way that different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum affect the eye.

Color Correction: Deliberately changing the color of the original so it can be reproduced.

Color Palette: A set of colors that make up a range of colors that serve a particular purpose; can also be referred to as a color scheme.

Color Swatch: A color sample that is used to convey a particular ink color for printing.

Color Wheel: Colors presented in a circle that show the relationship between colors.

Complementary Colors: Colors that are opposite one another on the color wheel and work with one another to enhance the other.

Composition: Combining type, photos, and graphics on a page that is pleasing to the eye.

Condensed Font: A type of font where the widths of the characters is generally narrower than a standard type, or that particular type.

Contrast: A differentiation between the lightest and darkest colors in a design.

Copy: The text or writing that is meant to be incorporated into a design or website.

Crop: Removing some part of the frame to change the design element or change the image’s aspect.


Descender: The portion of a letter in a type that sits below the baseline.

Display Type: The letters that are used for headlines, titles, and other places that require emphasis. This is not meant to be used for the bulk of information.

Dodge: Lighten one part of an image using shading.

DPI: Short for dots per inch. This refers to the resolution of the object as related to the smallest measurement of a printed unit, the dot.

Drop Shadow: A visual effect whereby a graphic is displayed as though there is a shadow behind it.

Duotone: Printing an image using two colors- usually one black and one other.


Ear: The rounded parts of lowercase letters.

Element: Distinct parts of any layout, whether that be the logo, image, borders, or more.

EPS File: A file format for vector images that includes both text and graphics.

Extended Type: In typography, these refer to typefaces that are wide horizontally.

Extenders: Any part of a letter of type that go above the x-type or below the baseline.


Feathering: A tool used within design aimed at making the edges of an image look softer.

Fill: Using a tool to incorporate a specific color in selected parts of an image.

Filter: An effect that has been created to lay over a design to give it a certain look.

Fixed Space: A blank space within a set parameters that is used to set spacing.

Flush Right: Term when all the text is aligned to the right side.

Focal Point: The point on an image where the reader’s eyes should be drawn to.

Font: All sets of characters within a typeface.

Four-Color Printing: The process of printing color using the four main process colors- cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.


Gradient: Filling an image with a smooth gradient of colors.

Graphic Design: Communication with text and images that is an umbrella term for visual design.

Grayscale: Images that don’t use a color on the color wheel, but a combination of black, white, and gray.

Grid: Horizontal and vertical lines that align images and text.


Hard Copy: The manifestation of a creation off of the computer or display.

Header: Text at the top of the page that is not the body text.

HEX Code: HTML and CSS code that conveys a particular color, beginning with # and ending with six letters and numbers.

Highlight: The lightest part of an image.

High-Resolution Image: An image that is extremely clear.

Hue: What is typically considered to be color is actually hue (ex: red, green, purple).


In-Line: A typographic style that looks as though it was chiseled out of stone.

Indents: The length that some image or text is set back from the margin.

Invert: Taking the colors of an image and using their opposite on the color wheel.

Italic: Style of letters that slopes to the right.


JPEG: File type that uses a kind of compression that deletes detail as size is increased, which is best for photographs or realistic paintings.

Justification: Lining up text so that it aligns on both the left and the right.


Kerning: The minimizing of space between certain letter combinations for aesthetic reasons.

Keyframe: A frame in which an image element is specifically defined.

Knockout: Space in a document that is left blank for the insertion of another image at a later date.


Landscape: Horizontal page viewing, where the width is greater than the height.

Layers: A tool that allows artwork to be gathered, separated, and reworked as needed.

Leading: Term for line spacing.

Left Justified: A term when the elements of a page are aligned to the left.

Letterforms: Overall term that refers to characters and symbols of a type.

Logotype: An image or symbol used to represent a brand or business.

Lossy: A way to compress image data that deletes detail the larger the file gets (JPEG).

Low-Resolution: An image that has a lower number of pixels, or dots, per square inch.

Luminosity: Brightness of an area determined by the amount of light that has been reflected.


Magic Wand Tool: A graphic design tool that permits certain areas to be selected.

Margin: Unprinted space aimed at providing aesthetics and readability of a page.

Midline: Distance from the baseline to the top of most of the lowercase letters on a type.

Mock Up: An idea for or recreation of printed materials. *

Monochromatic: A single color.

Monospaced: All characters in a typeface having the exact same width.


Negative Space: Space that is unoccupied by images or text.

Neon Glow: An effect on an image that gives the appearance of neon lighting.

Noise: Addition of pixels that contain random colors to images.


Object-Oriented: Graphic designs that use vectors rather than bitmaps.

Oblique: A typographic term related to italics, where all letters lean to the right.

Opacity: The degree of color from transparent to opaque.

Open Type Font: Standard in font format, that contains screen and printer versions.

Outline: The outside edge of an image or font.


Palette: Collection of shades, hues, and colors used in a project.

Pantone: A leader in the color industry, Pantone uses a color matching system that allows designers around the world to perfectly match colors.

PDF: A file format accessible using a special reader that is aimed at showing documents, but can also be used for images.

Pixel: The smallest point on a computer monitor and a measurement of the resolution of an image on a screen.

PNG: A file format that can be used with a transparent background, and supports large areas of a singular color. PNG files can be resized without the jagged edges seen in other file types.

Portrait: Formatting the page so the overall way to view the image is vertical.

Positive: A reproduction of a piece that perfectly matches the original.

PPI: Pixels Per Inch, or a computer display’s resolution.

Primary Colors: Colors that act as the most basic, and other colors can be created through mixing combinations of these two. Commonly, red, yellow, and blue are known as primary colors. No other combination of colors can recreate these. * Proof:* The initial copy of designed material, meant to be checked for any errors that need correcting before a final version is rendered.


Ragged: A typography term that refers to what happens when lines do not align at the right margin.

Raster: A kind of image that has been transferred from vector to bitmap.

Resolution: The degree to which the human eye can distinguish the smallest parts of an image. Higher resolutions will appear smoother to the eye.

RGB: Short for red, green, blue, this is the three basic components of light that make up the color spectrum, and is used for web design.


Sans Serif: Types of typefaces that do not have lines or embellishments on the end of the stroke.

Saturation: The brightness and intensity of a color.

Scale: Properly aligning an image.

Serif: Typefaces that involve lines or embellishments at the end of a stroke.

Shade: The amount of black mixed in with a hue meant to darken the color.

Shadow Detail: Detail found in the dark areas in an image.

Sharpen: Make the dots within an image smaller, reducing the dot spread.

Soft Copy: Images or data that appear on a computer rather than printed on paper.

Split-Complementary Colors: A base color and the colors that are directly next to its complementary color. For example, if blue is the base color, a yellow-orange and a red-orange could be the split-complementary colors.

Stem: The vertical stroke of a letter.


Template: An idea and format for where objects are meant to be inserted at a later time.

Tetradic Colors: Colors on the color wheel that make a rectangular shape. These are four total colors that consist of two pairs of complementary colors (ex. yellow, purple, blue, orange).

Thumbnail: The reduced version of the original image.

Tint: A different color made by adding white to a hue.

Typeface: Variations within a type family, which can include italics, bold, roman, narrow, and more.

Type Family: Typefaces that are related but differ depending on weight and width.

Typography: The art of developing and working with print-quality type, based on the shape of the letters and numbers and how it is arranged on the page.


Value: The lightness or darkness of a color.

Vector: A way to render an image whereby the elements can be grouped together as a whole but also considered as individual components. This allows the image to be resized larger or smaller without compromising detail.

Visual Hierarchy: The way that details are emphasized based on different colors, sizes, and layouts.


Watermark: Translucent logo placed over an image or file aimed at identifying the maker of the image while still showing what’s underneath.

Weight: How thick and dark a particular typeface appears.

White Space: Area on a page or image that does not have any color, image, or design on it.


x-Height: The height of the letter “x” in a typeface, which most of the lowercase letters abide by.


ZIP file: File format that allows other files to be compressed and contained within it. No data is lost and all files can be accessed by unzipping this file.