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B 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.


Baseline - Typography Terms


Typography has a specific language all of its own which can easily confuse Cap Height Diagramthe non-designer.

The BASELINE is the imaginary line upon which the words rest and is shown as the GREEN line here:

It is the line from which elements of type such as X-Height and leading are measured.

Wavy TypographyIt can also be curved or wavy!




Typography lines diagram




Black in CMYK

Black in CMYK



CMYKBlack is one of the colours in the CMYK printing process and is represented by the letter ‘K’.

CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black and is also known as  ‘4 Colour Process‘ printing.

The ‘K’ in CMYK stands for the word ‘KEY’ as, in the 4 colour process, the black plate is called the Key Plate and is the plate to which all the others (Cyan, Magenta and Yellow) are aligned.

A popular misconception is that because ‘B’ has already been taken to stand for blue, ‘K’ was chosen to stand for black as it is the last letter and there are no other colours beginning with ‘K’ – this is not the reason but it is a useful way to remember!

It’s Hex code is #000000

For those of you who would like to read about Black in more detail, I have provided a link to Wikipedia’s CMYK page which has lots of technical info on it!

Bold Text

Bold Text



Make type boldMany typefaces come in families centred around a ‘Medium’ or ‘Regular’ style.

A family of typefaces could include up to 7 or 8 variations of ‘weight’ as demonstrated here.

Bold Type

Bold type is a great choice to make for headlines, headers, call to action banners and attention grabbing star bursts!

Weights of type diagramUsing vector graphics software it is possible to make a regular typeface bolder by adding an outline to it, but it’s better to try to find a typeface you like which already has a bold variant if you can.

It is a very good idea to choose a basic typeface with a variety of weight variations when you are deciding on your branding elements, as this will give you a choice of weights without changing the actual typeface and therefore more options to choose from.


See also Italic Type.








Adding a border to a whole design layout or to separate elements within a layout can really focus attention and pull a whole design together.

If you choose to use a border, make sure you select one that compliments the overall style and feel of your work.

There are many borders to choose from, or indeed you can design and use your own, but don’t get too carried away.

However beautiful they are, more complicated, brightly coloured and thicker borders can often overwhelm the design elements and steal attention.

A great way of avoiding this is to make the border a tint (paler) or tone (darker) of one of the main colours in the design.














Branding wordsBranding is so much more than just a logo.

Way back in the distant past, human beings developed a visual survival skill that allowed them to instantly determine the difference between plants and animals that were good to eat and those that were likely to kill them.

Over millions of years, we have refined those skills and now make sub-conscious associations automatically based on visual stimuli all the time.

Branding your business is the science of getting your company values and associations linked to a particular visual stimulus ( ie. your logo and associated branding), in the heads of your target market.

Defining you Brand

 1. Your Logo should

  • Be unique and different from that of any of your competitors
  • Have your company name on it
  • Be memorable
  • Be simple
  • Create credibility with your target market (e.g., a logo for a rock band would need to look different from a logo for an accountancy firm and vice versa in order to have credibility with their respective target audiences!).

2. Associated Branding

  • Choose a main typeface to use for all of your information and blocks of text
  • Choose a secondary typeface to use for headlines and highlights
  • Choose a set of colours that you will always use – refer to your logo for these
  • Choose a ‘house style’ for your work that encompasses your logo, business cards, website, leaflets etc.

3. Be Consistent

  • Consistency is the key to developing a strong brand
  • Familiarity with your house style is just as powerful as familiarity with your logo
  • Use your house style on everything you produce under the name of your business
  • Look after your brand and it will look after you!

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