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M 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.






Magenta is one of the colours in the CMYK printing process.

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

Magenta is a pinkish-purple colour and is the complimentary colour of green.

It’s Hex code is #FF00FF

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





Midline / X-HeightTypography has a language all of its own which can easily confuse the non-designer.

The MIDLINE is an imaginary line measured from the BASELINE to the top of the flat topped lowercase letters – with the ‘x’ being an obvious example.

Letters with rounded tops extend a little above the MIDLINE which is more pleasing to the eye and appear in line when read.

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

Typography lines diagram



Highlight, Midtone, Shadow

Midtones title



Midtones are the areas in an illustration or photo that fall into the mid-tonal range between Highlights (the brightest areas) and Shadows (the darkest areas).

A rule of thumb would place the mid-tone range between 20% and 80% with 0% to 19% being highlight areas and 81% to 100% being shadows, although this can vary depending on the illustration or photograph.

See Highlight in this glossary for more details.


Midtones diagram


Mock Up

Mock Up



A mock up in graphic design terms is a rough, often hand drawn, version of a finished piece of work which allows the client to see the designer’s ‘vision’ of the finished advert, logo, brochure, campaign or other design item, before going to the time and expense of doing it for real, prior to the actual final design being agreed on.

Producing a mock up does take time but is well worth the effort and, although you will spend time to make it, having a mock up made could potentially save you a lot of money in the long run.

If you are designing for yourself it is especially useful to have a rough paper mock up on hand when designing brochures, booklets or folded leaflets, just to make sure your artwork is in the right place before you send it off to the printers!





Monotone / MonochromaticMonochrome ColourMonochromatic literally means ‘one colour’  and  they are colour schemes created from tones of any single full saturation (100%) colour.

Single colour printing can be very effective and is often cheaper than full colour – but do check with your printer before beginning your design – if he is using a digital press you might find there is very little difference in cost from full colour and, of course, on-line there is no difference at all!

Related Term: Colour wheel, Saturation, Printing.











When a designer is planning a campaign or a brand launch, multimedia springs to mind immediately.

It is no longer enough to reach out to your target market with just one type of approach any more and so even small companies need to embrace a multimedia approach.

Types of media include:

Printed media

  • Leaflets, Posters, Flyers, Brochures, Business cards, Postcards, Calendars, etc.


  • This is now an essential for all businesses big or small
  • You do not have to be an expert to build your own basic website, you do not need to know coding and it is actually quite affordable too!

Social Media

  • Facebook, Twitter, Google+  and Pinterest are just four of the social media platforms that can really help you boost your customer base
  • They are free to use and, as long as you engage regularly with your target customers by posting interesting and useful items and comments, your customer base will grow.


  • Is the fastest growing area on the internet, so if you have a mobile phone and something interesting is happening in your business, or if you can demonstrate a skill, video yourself and upload it to YouTube for free.


  • Bags and boxes spring to mind here, but don’t forget packaging for you and your staff too… Logos on T-shirts, Sweatshirts and uniforms look stylish and ‘packaging’ your car or van with your branding will create a really good impression with your customers for not much money.


  • Local Radio stations are always looking out for interesting people to interview on their shows
  • If you have a story, competition, or sponsorship deal for example, phone them up and ask. Most interviews are pre-recorded, and remember (unless you are a politician) the presenter is there to make you and your business sound good to their audience. It’s a win win situation that could reach hundreds of people in your area for free.


  • Newspapers and magazines can be a good place to advertise and to have articles about you and your business, but beware, a lot of newspapers will offer an article in return for an advertising fee
  • You need to be absolutely sure that the targeting is right for you and that it is worth the cost in sales or awareness, or both, before agreeing
  • The sales team will be very persuasive but that is their job – be wary.


If you are interested in using any of the above multimedia for your small business, see the Be Your Own Graphic Designer website for more details of our £10 members package.

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