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I 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.





In graphic design, the word icon refers to a simplified image which stands alone to represent an organisation, action or process and which often appears in ‘button’ form linking the user electronically to another page or piece of software.

Icons which have become particularly famous in recent years include Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and Google+

Twitter link Pinterest link Facebook link Google+ link






Developing your own icons for use on your website is a great way of maximising your branding and can be extended to other aspects of your marketing mix.

The key is to keep them simple, memorable, stylish, unique and they must, of course, look like they belong to your brand.

These icons are used on the Be Your Own Graphic Designer website to represent Typography, Images, Logo Design and Colour Theory.

Typefaces iconImages icon Logos icon Colour theory icon





If you are using icons you have imported on your website or in other aspects of your business, please do check that you have the rights to use them, unless they are being used to link through to the site or application they represent.

It could become expensive if you don’t.

Of course, the best way around this is to design your own!



Indent diagram


An indent in graphic design terms is when a piece of text or an image is set in from the margin.

It is often used to add emphasis to headers or to denote where new paragraphs begin in blocks of text.




To invert an image is to replace the colours with their exact opposite on the colour wheel.

For example,

Red becomes green

Yellow becomes purple

Blue becomes orange

Black becomes white

Tonal values stay the same however, so a 50% tint or tone of a hue (colour) will be a 50% tint or tone of its opposite.

Inverted pairs diagram

Italic Type




Make type italic-21Italic Type is a variation of a regular typeface which has been angled slightly to the right, while keeping the baseline horizontal.

Italic type is used by designers to draw attention to words without making it obvious – if you think of bold text as shouting, then italic could be said to whisper (and as I’m sure you have seen, in a crowded room if someone starts to whisper, everyone stops talking and listens!).


Italic type diagramWhen you are choosing your main text for your branding, try to choose a typeface that has a good selection of italic typeface weights as this will give you lots of flexibility without stepping outside your branding.

Another form of lettering that is often italicised is script – please refer to the Script page for more details.

Warning: Do not confuse Italic letters with Rotated letters – the difference is really noticeable if you compare the two styles and although it is really easy to rotate letters using vector graphic programs the results can look really weird…

Italic vs rotated type

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