As a creative change agency, we often get lost in our own world of graphic design jargon. Terms that are in our everyday vernacular may be completely foreign to our clients. As a team member who came from the nonprofit world, I experienced a steep learning curve when it came to graphic design office vocabulary. In case you don’t spend every day talking about graphic and web design, we thought we’d provide a basic glossary of terms you may come across during your work with the creative marketing team.

Bleed: When a print design extends up to and over the edge of the paper. The artwork is printed on a larger sheet of paper, which is then trimmed to the desired size.

Brand Equity: The value of a brand as perceived by consumers and clients.

Brand Positioning: A company’s position within the industry that specifies their brand’s point of superiority and differentiation among its competitors.

Comp (Comprehensive Layout): A layout or mock-up that is carefully drawn to show all elements in correct size and position. It is rendered to present a close approximation of the final printed piece.

CMYK: The abbreviation for the color model (process color / four colors) cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black) that is used in any color printing and also used to describe the printing process itself.

Crop Marks: Lines placed at the corners of a form to indicate where the page is to be trimmed. Especially necessary to include when printing a page that has a full bleed as part of its design.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets): A list of directives telling the browser how to present the various elements of a web page. For instance, using a style sheet, you can change a website’s background color, make different font choices, change the spacing between paragraphs, resize images and more.

Digital Printing: A printing process where small-run jobs are printed using large-format and/or high-volume laser or inkjet printers. Digital printing has a higher cost per page than more traditional offset printing methods, but this price is usually offset by avoiding the cost of all the technical steps required to make printing plates. It also allows for on-demand printing, short turnaround time, and even a modification of the image (variable data) used for each impression.

EPS (Encapsulated Postscrtipt): A more-or-less self-contained, reasonably predictable PostScript document that describes an image or drawing and can be placed within another PostScript document.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol): Allows you to copy or send files (HTML-documents, graphic images, spreadsheets) from one computer to another via the internet.

Folio: A sheet of paper folded in half is a folio. Each half of the folio is a leaf; therefore a single folio would have 4 pages (2 each side of a leaf). Several folios placed one inside the other create a “signature” to become part of a book, magazine or other publication.

HTML Documents (html): An acronym for “HyperText Markup Language,” an HTML document provides the fundamental code that a browser reads in order to render a web page. The HTML document tells a browser what elements are included (text, images, forms, videos, etc.), in what order they will appear, and whether to fetch additional files from a server to make everything look and work correctly.

JavaScript: The language that determines most of the interactive capabilities of a website, meaning the ways in which a site responds to user actions. JavaScript can make a pop-up window appear, tell you when you’ve mistyped an email address into a form, animate images, give users the ability to move elements around a web page, and much, much, much more.

Masthead: The title or name of a piece that appears at the top of the page. Often used when discussing website design.

Metatags: Words and code embedded in the HTML code or source code of a webpage. This information is not outwardly displayed on a site, but it provides information about the site’s content. The metatag information is used by search engines to categorize the site.

Offset Printing: A printing technique in which the inked image is transferred (or “offset”) from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface. Compared to other printing methods, offset printing is best suited for economically producing large volumes of high quality prints in a manner that requires little maintenance. It often allows for a more controlled, higher quality final product.

Pantone Colors: The Pantone Color Matching System is largely a standardized color reproduction system. By standardizing the colors, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colors match without direct contact with one another.

Sans Serif Font: A style of typeface that means “without feet.” Common sans serif typefaces include Arial, Helvetica and Verdana.

Serif Font: A style of typeface that has “little feet.” Common serif typefaces include Times Roman, Garamond and Palatino.

Splash Page: A web page consisting of a large graphic, which serves as a site’s homepage. The site visitor is then prompted to click to enter the site.

Wordmark: A logo consisting of typography only, with no icon.

After reviewing these terms, we hope you feel more confident when talking with your account manager, designer or developer about your company’s project.

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