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Design, Web and Print Glossary, Terms, Definitions – A

As a designer, I need to know a lot of jargon as I deal with printers, web developers etc. etc. Although I try not to use it when speaking to clients, it can occasionally slip out.

No matter what you do, we all have a tendency to use our industry jargon when speaking to others. Here, I present a glossary of design / web / print terms for your personal edification.

A

A (Paper Sizes) – ISO paper sizes. Each is double the size of the one before it. A4 is the most common size, used for letterheads etc. A4 is twice the size of A5, half the size of A3.

Above The Line – Traditional, non-direct advertising of print, TV and radio.

Acetate – A transparent sheet, such as used on OHP’s or as a protective cover for bound documents.

Acid Free Paper – A paper type that resists discolouration and deterioration as a result of age.

Adobe – Adobe is the company behind a range of professional design software e.g Photoshop, Illustrator.

Acrobat – Another piece of Adobe software. Acrobat is used to create and view PDF files.

Achromatic – This refers to ‘non-colours, that is black, grey and white.

Agate – A type size that is 5&#frac12; points.

Air (Print) – A term used to describe large, blank areas in design layout. More commonly called ‘white-space’.

Air (Software) – Software for developers to produce, stand-alone applications across various platforms and devices.

Airbrush – A compressed air tool that uses a fine mist of either paint or ink, usually used to touch up images. Also sometimes used to refer to the digitally touching up of photographs.

Alley – The space between columns of a layout.

Aliasing – spatial aliasing, which shows as visible pixelation – a blocky or jagged effect that is usually apparent on lines which are not quite horizontal or vertical.

Alignment – The position of text and items in a layout. Can refer to either vertical or horizontal alignment.

Ambient Media – This refers to non-traditional forms of media. It can either be a new technique or using existing forms in new and innovative ways.

Analogy and Visual Metaphor – These use something to represent something else. The analogy campares a similar item to help explain something. A metaphor is the use of a word or phrase to imply characteristics, e.g. Fox = sly / cunning.

Animated Gif – A bitmap-based format specifically designed for use on the web. It supports a low number of colours (256) and can contain a number of .gif images that can be viewed as an animation. The use of animated gifs has fallen out of favour.

Anti-Alias – A method of blending the edges of an object to to jagged edges.

Anti-Aliasing – Most commonly seen as an option on computer display settings, where fonts are smoothed to remove jagged edges and aid readability.

Arms – The elements of letters that branch out of the stem of a letter, for example ‘Y’.

Artwork – Refers to any graphics, layouts, photographs etc.

Acender – In typography, the ascender is anything that appears above the x-hight of the font. b, d, f, h, k, l and t all have ascenders.

Aspect Ratio – Ration of a screen, monitor, video etc. Older TV’s were 4:3, widescreen is typically 16:9.

Alpha-Channel – An 8-bit channel that is available in some file formats. .PNG is commonly used on the web as the alpha-channel allows transparency saved in an image. JPEG does not allow this and GIF only allows transparency to be on or off, so there is no partial or semi-transparency allowed, resulting in jagged edges.

A  |  B  |  C  |  D  |  E  |  F  |  G  |  H  |  I  |  J  |  K  |  L  |  M
N  |  O  |  P  |  Q  |  R  |  S  |  T  |  U  |  V  |  W  |  X  |  Y  |  Z

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