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Design Jargon – simplified

2nd January 2015 Graphic Design

As Graphic Designer here at Media Street I sometimes get asked by clients what I mean by certain speak regarding design. So I decided to put together a basic guide:


If you want a design or photograph to be printed right to the very edge of the paper without a white gap, you need to apply bleed. This means that the design extends slightly off the page, so when the paper is cropped you don’t see a white edge appearing.

Raster Images Vs Vector Images

Raster images (also referred to as bitmap images) are made up of many pixels which determine the colour and form of the image.

Photos are raster images and Photoshop is the industry standard programme for editing these, but you can only edit images within their given size. Images can’t be significantly enlarged without loss of quality.

Vector-based images (such as those created in Adobe Illustrator) are made up of points, each of which has a defined X and Y coordinate. These points join paths to form shapes, and inside these shapes you can add colour fills. Because everything is generated based around this, vectors can be resized to any size without any loss of quality. Logos should be created with this process, so they can be enlarged to any size without loss of quality.


CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (or black) and is the standard colour mode for sending documents to print. All images within a document being printed should be set as CMYK.

RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue and is used for images that are displayed over computer monitors, mobile devices and television screens.

Serif and Sans Serif Fonts

Serifs are the ‘fancy pointy’ bits on letters and not all fonts have them – these are called Sans Serif fonts. Typically, larger fonts are easier to read without serifs (think of road signs) and small fonts are harder to read without serifs and. The main exception of this however, is the internet, where interlaced screens have shown twittering on the fine details of the horizontal serifs. Additionally, on lower-resolution digital displays, fine details like serifs may disappear or appear too large.

Negative Space

Often referred to as White Space, it is an important element of design which enables the objects in it to exist at all; the balance between positive (or non-white) and the use of negative spaces is key to aesthetic composition. Inexpert use of white space, however, can make a page appear incomplete. People are also tempted to fill every space on a page, whereas leaving some space allows the viewers eye to read more easily and follow the correct path through a design.

Do you have an idea for a design but need some help? Please contact me at Media Street on 01392 914033 or [email protected]

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