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T 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.


Tail / Extenders



In typography, the descending part of a letter, which inTail / Extenders handwriting would finish the pen stroke, is referred to as the tail.

The tail, is one of a letter’s extenders and can descend below the baseline or rest on it, and is sometimes decorative but not always.

In a typeface, the style of the tail is very often a defining feature of the font.

Related Terms:

Typography, Baseline, Ascender, Descender, Cap Height, Extenders, Font, Stem, X-Height



Tertiary Colours

tertiary colours



Tertiary Colours are the colours created when PRIMARY COLOURS Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Colours(Red, Yellow & Blue) are mixed with the SECONDARY COLOURS next to them on the colour wheel  (Orange, Green & Violet) to form new tertiary colours which are Red-violet, Blue-violet, Blue-green, Yellow-green, Yellow-orange and Red-orange.

Tertiary colours are sometimes also called Intermediary colours.

Related Terms:

Colour Wheel, Primary colours, Secondary colours,                                       Complimentary colours, Colour Scheme


Tetradic Colours

Tetradic colours



Tetradic (or Rectangular) Colours are a group of four colours Colour Wheel - Tetradic Coloursfrom the colour wheel that comprise any four pairs of complementary colours as shown in the diagram.

Tetradic colours can be used to great effect especially if you change the saturation of the colours or add black and/or white to the colour scheme.

Eg. Red Orange + Red Violet + Yellow Green + Blue Green

or Red + Violet + Yellow + Green etc.

Tetradic coloursRelated Terms:

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



Triadic colours

Triadic colours



Triadic colours (also called Triads) are groups of 3 colours Colour Wheel - Triadic Coloursseparated by 120 degrees on the colour wheel.

e.g., Red + Blue + Yellow Triadic colours

or Red violet + Blue green + Yellow orange.




Once you have chosen your triad, you can then vary the intensity of the colours by using different saturations to make lighter shades to add interest to the graphic, as show in Mewsli the cat’s mat where a 50% saturation of blue has been used.

Related Terms:

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





Typography just means designing with type.

It does not have to be flashy or complex like this example:Typography

In fact the most effective typography is often very simple

e.g., the Google logo

Google logo

However, typography comes with a built in ‘language’ and ‘rules of thumb’ which can trip up the non-professional designer.

Curved text exampleThe related design terms shown here will tell you more about these in an easy to follow format.

Related terms: Type, Font, Serif, Sans Serif.


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