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A is for .... Design Terms Glossary

Non-designers Essential Glossary of Design Terms

Every industry, business and profession has its own language and that language can leave you feeling confused and result in lots of misunderstandings.  We thought you might find our Design Terms Glossary useful whether you are using the training in our Members’ section or dealing with a graphic designer directly.

A Sizes


A Sizes for paper



In the UK the standard size used to measure paper is the ‘A’ system.A sizes for paper

When you are designing on your computer you will notice lots of other sizes such as legal and letter but if you are designing in the UK, stick to the A sizes!





A sizes schematic landscape





Alignment is key to good graphic design.

Alignment of textIn its most basic form, alignment can be:

Range Left

  • Everything aligned vertically to an imaginary straight line on the left. This is the usual format for large blocks of text as it makes reading easier.

Range Right

  • Everything aligned vertically to an imaginary straight line on the right. This can look really stylish, but is best reserved for smaller sections of text as the ragged left hand edge can make reading large quantities of text difficult.


  • Everything aligned vertically to an imaginary straight line in the centre. This is ideal for addresses etc. at the bottom of pages or simply to achieve a really balanced and symmetrical look.


  • Everything is aligned to fit exactly between two vertical lines. one ranged left and one ranged right. The kerning (space between the letters) has been adjusted to make the left AND right sides vertical. This is often used for large amount of text, as in leaflets, brochures and books as it keeps things neat and aids reading.
  • A word of warning however – it rarely works well on short pieces of text as the words start to look very odd indeed!

 Alignment is also about creating a visual balance between design elements on your page

Alignment examples in a row

For lots more detailed information on alignment for both text and visual images please see the Be your own Graphic Designer website.

Analogous Colours

Analogous colours



An analogous colour pallet is created when any three adjacent colours Analogous colourson the colour wheel are used together.

Analogous colours

Examples include:

Red orange + Red + Red violet

or  Yellow + Yellow green + Green etc.

Remember that you can vary the colours by decreasing the saturation of the colours to create tints.

On the example of Mewsli the cat, the square background is a 60% tint of the yellow in the pallet.

Related Terms:

Primary colours, Secondary colours, Complementary colours, Saturation, Colour scheme, Triadic colour, Square colours, Tertiary colours, Tetradic colours.




Typography has a language all of its own which can easily confuse the non-designer.Ascender

The ASCENDER is the part of any letter that extends above the CAP HEIGHT and is often the defining element in many SERIF, SCRIPT and DECORATIVE type faces.

Be careful not to overuse typefaces with large ASCENDERS and DESCENDERS as they can get visually tangled!

Related Terms: Baseline, Midline, Cap Height, Ascender, Kerning, Leading, Sans Serif, Serif, Script, Decorative, Weight, X-Height


Typography lines diagram


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