You just got an email from a designer peppered with terms like “leaf,” “gutter” and “rivers,” and maybe you are wondering what foliage, rain-collectors, and streams of water have to do with your project. Or maybe you are completely lost as they throw around words like “kerning” and “vector.” If you don’t deal with these words every day and don’t know what they mean, I’m guessing you resort to one of two responses: act like you know what they’re talking about or get rather frustrated.
Every profession has specialized vocabulary, and graphic design is no different. While it’s not out of the realm of possibilities for you to immerse yourself in design courses and books, no one is expecting you to go out and learn all there is to know about graphic design in order to understand the lingo. However, it would be beneficial to familiarize yourself with some of the more common design terms.
With jargon thrown around on both sides of the fence between agency and client, you are bound to run into unintentional miscommunication. Projects can be prolonged unnecessarily, confusion can lead to mistakes, and misunderstandings can strain relationships. I’m sure we all want to do what we can to prevent these miscommunications and keep projects running as smoothly as possible, so maybe it’s time we “define our terms.”
There are many reputable sources that have created lists and cheat sheets of design vocabulary, and you can always Google the definitions of words you don’t know. However, I’ve gathered a handful of graphic design terms and created a quick list to get you started.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I hope you found it helpful and even learned a new word or two. More importantly, I hope you are better equipped to avoid miscommunication so that projects flow as efficiently as possible.
Looking to expand your understanding of design vocab even further? Check out Canva’s list of terms for non-designers. They’ve even included pictures to help illustrate each term. As always, we’d love to hear from you, so come back and let us know what you learned in the comments!