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L 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.

Leading (the space between lines of type)





LeadingLeading (pronounced leding) refers to the white space between ROWS of type.

This is an example of how adjusting the leading between rows of type can effect how it looks and also how easy it is to read.

The space is called leading because back in the days when type was set manually, letter by letter for use on old printing presses, the space between the lines was literally a bar of lead, put there to separate one row of letters from the next and to hold them in a straight line.

Knowing how to adjust the leading when you are designing will give you a lot of flexibility and make sure your words are looking great!

Visual Entanglement


It is especially important to know how to do this when using typefaces with long ascenders and descenders!

If you are interested in knowing how to adjust the spaces BETWEEN the letters, please see the page called KERNING.





Julie with her Beautiful Beads logoA logo is a symbol that represents a company, and all that company’s associated values, in one memorable symbol.

It may contain just an image or just type or a combination.

The purpose of a logo is to identify a business, organisation, individual or product in the mind of the customer and this then triggers a whole range of associations (preferably good!) which potential customers will then use to help them make their buying decisions.

A logo has to be simple, memorable, appropriate to your business and above all unique.



Steve's Leaves logoIf you are thinking of using an ‘insert-your-business-name-here’ logo-clone company for your logo, please take a minute to click through to my blog about the subject: Rant Alert: Insert Your Business Name Here Branding before making your descision.

If you want to read more about logos, there is lots on the website about logos, including training on how to design you own!





Lossy is a form of data compression (eg. Jpeg) where detail is deleted as the file size is made smaller (see Resolution and Jpeg in this glossary).

The result of Lossy compression manifests itself in bigger and bigger pixels as the program tries to average out the detail into one unit, which takes less storage space.

Lossy files are useful, but do remember that quality is sacrificed.

Also remember that this is a one way process – While you can re-save a lossy file into a higher resolution format the quality will not re-appear.

Jpeg diagram - Fern Teather


Lower Case

Lower Case



Lower case lettering is the opposite of capital lettering.

Lower Case

A type font in a caseThe term refers to the way that type was stored in the early days of printing when each font (style of letter) was stored in wooden cases.

The capital letters of each font were stored in the upper part of the case and the non-capital letters stored in the lower part.

Low Resolution

Low Resolution



Pixelated photo demoLow resolution is the term given to an image of low quality, which often appears to be pixelated and may contain ‘ visual noise’ (that is random pixels that seem to have colours all of their own).

When using images or photographs the higher the resolution the better the quality. Most printers specify a resolution of 300 DPI / PPI or higher (see DPI and PPI in this glossary for more detail on these terms) for use in print.

Because photographs are pixelated to reduce the file size for digital storage you have to be very careful not to fall into the trap of assuming that because a photo says it is 300 dpi/ppi that it actually is.

Always trust your eyes!

If a photo or image that is actually saved at say, 170 dpi/ppi is then re-saved at 300 dpi/ppi its resolution will still be 170 dpi/ppi – it is a one way process.

High resolution vs. low resoultion image

See Vector Graphics in this glossary to understand how to keep images smooth all the time.



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