Cheat Sheet: Common Design Terms


Have you ever been in a meeting with a client or graphic designer, where the meeting is going well, everyone is excited and suddenly you realize you both have been on different pages because you use different design terms to illustrate your project? Me too, dear. Me too.

This is why I’ve created a little cheat sheet for my clients that I send out to ensure communication is smooth from the get-go. Here are the most misunderstood (or misused) design terms I’ve seen:

Typography vs. Font: Typography is a family of fonts. Font, on the other hand, is the variation of size and weights of a typeface!

Color Scheme: An arrangement and combination of colors to create an aesthetic feeling of style.

RGB: Stands for colors Red, Green, Blue. This way of measuring color is used for anything you put on the web.

HEX: A 6 digit color code used in HTML, CSS, SVG, and other computing applications to represent colors. A hashtag or pound sign is always in front of the 6 digit color code (ex: #373737).

CMYK: Cyan (blue), Magenta (red), yellow and black. This is the color scale used for print materials produced.

White Space: White space is any section of a document that is unused or space around an object.

Proof: Part of the editing process where the designer hands off a document or project to be edited and returned back before the final is completed.

Hero Image: In web design, a hero image is a large web banner image, prominently placed on a web page (typically in the front and center). The hero image is the first visual piece that a visitor sees on the site, so it’s best to present an overview of the site’s most important content.

Resolution: Referring to the sharpness of a design. This will be referenced mostly in print, ensuring your photos are clear, no matter what size they are.

Above the fold/below the fold: Above the fold refers to the content that can be seen before you scroll with your mouse. Below the fold is anything you see after you scroll.

Next time you’re working on a project with a designer, try using these terms to communicate what you’re working on so everyone is on the same page! To make it nice and easy, I put together the above information in a nice little printable for you. Go ahead, boo. Download it below!