50 Hardcore Graphic Design Terms For Non-Designers To Know

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by Graphicszoo 15+ days ago 5 mins read

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The importance of graphic design in creating a successful brand name for businesses is undeniable. However, at times, it gets a little overwhelming for business owners when the designers start using really specific graphic design terms to communicate.

It is, therefore, essential for everyone involved in the project to be aware of such graphic design words that could be used often.

If you’ve been facing the same issue with your project communication, don’t be boggled.

We bring you not 1,  not 2 but, 50 hardcore graphic design terms for non-designers to know in order to have a clear communication through the design project; and henceforth.


Typography is one of the commonest graphic design words you’ll hear during the projects. In simple terms, typography refers to the art and procedure of arranging font type to make it readable, legible, attractive and engaging in print or digital designs.


This graphic design term is used in reference to the colors used in designs. In simple terms, a color palette comprises colors that can be utilized for any illustration or design work that represents your brand. 


Kerning is directly related to the typography and is the process of adjusting the space between consecutive letters.


Just like Kerning defines the adjustment in space between consecutive letters of a word, Leading (Pronounced as ‘Ledding’) defines the adjustment of space between two lines in a paragraph.


Tracking is one of the graphic design terms related to typography. Unlike Kerning and Leading, Tracking defines the adjustment of space for groups of letters and entire blocks of text.

Golden Ratio

Golden Ratio is a mathematical parameter used to make designs well-formatted and attractive. It is achieved when you take two objects, divide the larger by smaller, and get the result of 1.6180 (or near it).


This term is usually applied with the text on your design and defines the order of reading priority. It, also, makes the text more understandable and easier to read.


The x-height refers to the distance between the baseline and the mean line of lower-case letters in a typeface.


Hex is a set of alphanumeric numbers used in HTML, CSS, and design software applications to represent a specific color shade.


The aperture is the white space at the end of an open counter in typography.


Bleed is mainly used when a design is created for printing purposes; referring to the edge of the sheet which will be trimmed off.


RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue; the three colors of light typically used to display images on a digital screen.


CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black); the color combinations used in printers to provide the required output of digital design. 


Don’t worry! No one’s calling out names to you when they mention this graphic design word during the project. Just like Bleed, Creep is the inside margin of a book, magazine, or other publication.


Embossing is a finishing process executed while printing business card designs when a printing press is used to lift the design into the material.


Debossing, the counterpart of embossing, is a finishing process executed while printing business card designs when a printing press is used to sink the design into the material.


Also known as Foil Stamping, Foiling is a process used while printing a design where the metallic or pigmented foil is applied to the surface through the application of heat and a die to give the design some extra shine.


A grayscale defines a monochromatic color palette based on the color gray with every shade of gray.


The term Masthead is used to define specifically the title design of a magazine’s front cover. It can also be used to refer to graphic image or text title at the top of a webpage.  


This graphic design term is used to define a 3D representation of how a design will look in the real world.


When a designer mentions mood boards, they are largely referring to their inventory of ideas and inspiration for the design project.

Placeholder Text

You must have come across the term ‘Lorem Ipsum’ mentioned on a lot of sample text designs. That, simply, is a type of placeholder text.


PPI stands for Pixels Per Inch and is a measurement used to define the resolution of a design image on digital platform.


DPI stands for Dots Per Inch and is a measurement used to define the resolution of a design image on a printed platform.

Printer’s Proof

A printer’s proof is a sample design output in print form for you to go through and check for any mistakes or omissions before you send out the design for the final printing.


The term typeface defines the style and size of the font you are using for the texts in your design.


This graphic design term is exactly what it sounds; the level of clarity which your design has is defined by the term legibility.


This term is used to refer to the color shades which sit adjacent to each other on a color wheel.


This is yet another graphic design word which is used in reference to the color shades. However, unlike Analogous, Triadic colors are set of three colors that are equally dispersed around a color wheel; such as, Red, Yellow, and Blue.

Pantone Matching System

Similar to the term ‘Hex’, a Pantone Matching System is a standardized system of colors for printing with each Pantone shade having a specific number assigned to it.

Cool Colors

As the name suggests, cool colors are the shades of color that define calmness and soothing atmosphere; such as, blues, greens, violets, purples, etc.

Warm Colors

Opposite to the cool colors, warm colors are the shades of color that define friendliness and cheerfulness; such as, reds, yellows, oranges, etc.


This graphic design term is exactly what it means; a blank space. Some designers may also like to use the term ‘Negative Space’ to define whitespace.

Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds is one of the most interesting, yet calculative, graphic design terms. It is used to refer to the theory that if you divide your image with two vertical and two horizontal lines, the areas where your lines intersect will become focal points of your design.


The term scaling is used in reference to the sizing of your design. For example, you may have created a business logo design for the website but, have to use the same for a billboard print design, and will have to scale it up in order to match the size.

Die Cut

The term die cut is used in reference to all your custom print designs, especially for business card designs. It is the process of cutting areas of your printed design in various shapes to create unique effects.


Proximity is a term used to define the manner in which all the design elements are grouped or spaced on a page.

Thumbnail Sketch

When a designer provides you with a thumbnail sketch, they are basically giving you an outline of how they are planning the design to look in the final cut. These are design sketches used to visualize and grow various ideas and concepts by hand before moving to the screen.


Remember PPI and DPI? Yes! This is what they define for a design image. The higher your resolution, the better your images appear.


Another significant part of image resolution is the Pixel. A combination of the words ‘Picture’ and ‘Element’, Pixels are simply the smallest basic unit of programmable color on a computer.


Unlike what you’re thinking, the term ‘Widow’ refers to a line of the last paragraph that falls at the beginning of the following page or column, thus separated from the rest of the text.


This graphic design word is similar to the previous one (Widow) and is mostly a single word, or a short line of 3-4 words, which gets separated from the rest of the text.


Simply put, the term opacity is the opposite of transparency. The more opaque your design is, the lower will it be its transparency.

Breadcrumb Trail

Breadcrumbs are navigation elements that generally appear near the top of a page to show users the section hierarchy of the current page.


A wireframe is a term used to define generic images that the designers useto show how a page or site works.

Vector Graphics

Vector graphics are digital images designed through a sequence of commands or mathematical statements that place lines and shapes in a given two-dimensional or three-dimensional space. Vector-based images can be scaled to a larger size without losing any image quality.

Raster Graphics

Unlike vector graphics, raster graphic images compose of tiny rectangular pixels that are arranged in a grid (or raster) of x and y coordinates (includes a z coordinate in case of 3D) in such a way that it forms an image. Pictures found on the web and photos you import from your digital camera are raster graphics.


The logotype is one of those graphic design terms which are used in reference to the business logo designs. They are often termed as wordmark as well. These brand names styled as custom logo designs


Logomark is a simple icon designed by businesses to signify their brand logo. For example, when you see a blue tweety bird, you can immediately recognize it as the logo of Twitter.


This graphic design word is used in reference to signify any color on the color wheel. For example, Red, Yellow, Blue, Green, etc. are all hues.

To conclude…

We hope your graphic design vocabulary must have improved to some extent now, and you might be able to connect the dots on what your designer was trying to tell you when they used these terms. Once you get the meaning of each word, it’s not really that difficult to remember these hardcore graphic design terms.

Happy designing!