Graphic Design Glossary

Ever hear a graphic designer say a word that you have no idea what it means ? Hopefully this Glossary will help narrow down the meaning.

Animated GIF

A GIF graphic file, which consists of two or more images shown in a timed sequence to give the effect of motion.


Adobe Illustrator Artwork (AI) is a proprietary file format developed by Adobe Systems for representing single-page vector-based drawings in either the EPS or PDF formats. The . ai filename extension is used by Adobe Illustrator. The AI file format was originally a native format called PGF.

ASP (Active Server Page)

A dynamically generated web page, generally using ActiveX scripting.


Bandwidth is the amount of information your connection to the Internet can carry.

Bitmap graphic

A graphic image which is made up of pixels.

Bleed or Bleeding Edge

When a page design extends to and off the edge of the paper it is called “bleed”.


The software used to view, manage, and access web pages by interpreting hypertext and hyperlinks e.g. Microsoft Internet Explorer.


A content management system (CMS) is a computer software used to manage the creation and modification of digital content. CMSs are typically used for enterprise content management (ECM) and web content management (WCM).


Stands for the colours Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. In print design, colours are defined as a percentage of each of these 4 colours.


Abbreviation for Cascading Style Sheet, a feature of HTML developed by the W3C. With Cascading Style sheets, designers can create style templates (sheet) that specifies how different text elements (paragraphs, headings, hyperlinks, etc.) appear on a web page.


Stands for dots per inch. DPI specifies the resolution of an output device, such as a printer or printing press machine. Print resolution usually runs from 300-1200 dots per inch on a Laser Printer.


Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) is a Document Structuring Conventions–conforming (DSC) PostScript document format usable as a graphics file format. EPS files are more-or-less self-contained, reasonably predictable PostScript documents that describe an image or drawing and can be placed within another PostScript document.


A font is a complete set of characters in a particular size and style of type. This includes the letter set, the number set, and all of the special character and diacritical marks you get by pressing the shift, option, or command/control keys.


Stands for Graphics Interchange Format. GIF images are the most widely used graphic format on the web. GIF images display up to 256 colours.


An application of black ink (for print) or the colour black (for the screen) that simulates a range of tones. Greyscale images have no hue (colour). In print design, a greyscale graphic image appears to be black, white, and shades of gray, but it only uses a single colour ink.


A hex is a six-digit number used in HTML, CSS, and design software applications to represent colours.


Abbreviation for Hypertext Mark-up Language; a cross-platform text-formatting system for creating web pages, including copy, images, sounds, frames, animation and more.


A hyperlink, more commonly called a link, is an electronic connection between one web page to another.


JavaScript is a scripting language, JavaScript can make web pages more animated and dynamic in terms of graphics and navigation. One of the most common graphic JavaScript effects is the mouse over.


Abbreviation for Joint Photographic Experts Group. File format for full colour and black and white graphics. JPEG images allow for more colours than GIF images.

Lorem Ipsum

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text used by the design industry. It’s used as placeholder text and has a more-or-less average distribution of letters, making it look like readable English, as opposed to using ‘Add content here, add content here’ within designs when the copy isn’t quite ready.


Meta-tags are HTML tags that can be used to identify the creator of a web page, what HTML specifications a web page follows, the keywords and description of the page, etc. The most common use of a meta-tag in online marketing is the keyword and description tags, which tell the search engines that index meta-tags what description to use in their search query results.


Opacity enables us to make an element of a design transparent. The lower the opacity, the more transparent an element is. For example, 100% opacity means an object is solid.


Stands for Portable Document Format. Created by Adobe. Files can be downloaded via the web and viewed page by page, provided the user is computer has installed the necessary plug-in which can be downloaded from Adobe’s website.


Abbreviation for Hypertext Pre-Processor.


Stands for Portable Network Graphics format, and is generally pronounced “ping.” PNG is used for lossless compression and displaying images on the web.


PSD (Photoshop Document) is an image file format native to Adobe’s popular Photoshop Application. It’s an image editing friendly format that supports multiple image layers and various imaging options. PSD files are commonly used for containing high quality graphics data.


Raster images are made up of a set grid of pixels. This means when you change the size of stretch a raster image it can get a little blurry and lose some clarity.


Stands for the colours Red, Green and Blue. In web design and design for computer monitors, colours are defined in terms of a combination of these three colours.

Royalty Free Photos or Images

Images sold for a single standard fee and may be used repeatedly by the purchaser. Typically with royalty-free clauses, the company that sells you the images still owns all of the rights to the images, and they are allowed for use only by the purchaser.

Sans Serif

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

Search Engine

A search engine is a program that searches documents (i.e. web pages, which are HTML-documents) for specified keywords and returns the list of documents. A search engine has two parts, a spider and an indexer. The spider is the program that fetches the documents, and the indexer reads the documents and creates an index based on the words or ideas contained in each document.


URL is the abbreviation for Uniform Resource Locator and is an address referring to a document on the Internet. In other words, it is the address of an individual web page element or web document on the Internet.


Vector images a made up of points, lines, and curves. All of the shapes within a vector are calculated using a mathematical equation which means the image can scale in size without losing any quality. Unlike rasters, vectors won’t get blurry when scaled.

Vector Graphic

A graphic image drawn in shapes and lines, called paths. Images created in Adobe Illustrator (graphic design software) are vector graphics.


A website is a collection of electronic pages generally formatted in HTML (Hypertext Mark-up Language) that can contain text, graphic images, and multimedia effects such as sound files, video and/or animation files, and other programming elements such as Java and JavaScript.