Graphic Design Terms Most Designers Get Wrong

As a web designer and graphic designer, one needs to converse using the lingo and jargons used during describing technicalities about this sphere. It carries the conversation in a professional way and communicates their knowledge on that subject to the other people. However, it would not do if this backfired just because as a web designer or a graphic designer, you jumbled up words and ended up confusing two words. This usually happens because two words may be similar in their meanings and therefore would seem to mean the same. To avoid this situation, it would be preferable to look up some words that are similar and know when to use which. Sometimes, even incorrect usage of a word becomes acceptable among people just because a lot of people are using it. However, this does not conform to the graphic design terms because each term represents a particular activity and thus cannot be misused. If you are a web designer or graphic designer or just an enthusiast, or maybe even one of the top graphic design companies, you should have a firm grip on these terms.

Typeface and Font –

‘Font’ is a word that is the most commonly misused one and therefore, it is confused with a lot of terms apart from the word ‘typeface’. The word ‘typeface’ actually represents an array of glyphs, basically referring to an alphabet and some punctuations and numerals that go along with it. However, a font is something that comes under a typeface. As the typeface contains different sets of glyphs, font represents a particular set of glyphs that is one of the many sets that come under typeface. When the printing press was at its peak, the word typeface referred to the design that was translated onto the face of the hammers that were responsible for printing the different words and letters onto the paper that would be distributed or sent out. However, the word d=font was used for a set of those typefaces or hammers. Therefore, to sum it all up, the font is a set of alphabets and their corresponding accessories while the typeface is the design that these are printed or laid out in.

Calligraphy and Lettering –

 This confusion caused by the two words is quite understandable because both lettering and calligraphy are words that represent the artistic version in context to the letters used. This makes it difficult for the designers to differentiate between the two. The difference here constitutes the way and mannerism used for the creation of letters showcased in the two. The word lettering is concentrated on the drawings and the illustrations of these letters. But the word calligraphy is concentrated on the form of writing being beautiful and aesthetic. As a letterer, your job would be to pen down the letters for a book in the space provided. These letters could be either in the form of drawings or illustrations or as words written down. However, a calligrapher focuses on these letters as art themselves. Calligraphy is all about penning down the letters but lettering is about penning them down in a beautifully crafted manner.

Leading, tracking and kerning

Leading in terms of web or graphic design refers to the spacing between two lines in a vertical manner in the text. When it comes to a paragraph in any page, it is important to ensure that the lines have adequate space between them vertically so that the text is legible but not too spacey. Tracking and kerning carry a cause of major confusion for the designers. Tracking is the control of spaces between the letters in a particular word. The spacing between each word has to be decided upon and then changed equally between every letter of the word. It assists in fixing a space too large or too small so that the words are clearly legible to the viewer. Tracking goes throughout the word equally. However, for kerning, the paces are adjusted individually. It stands for fixing the space between two letters in a word. Too close spacing leads to letters mixing up while those being too far can lose the sense of the word. Therefore, leading can mean the space between two lines vertically. Tracking means the spacing of letters in a constant manner for a whole word. Kerning means individual spacing between letters without affecting the others.

Raster and Vector

Vector images and graphics constitute of and are made up of what is called paths, wherein each path has a particular mathematical formula. It is this formula that controls  the shape and size of the path and the color that is used for the borders and for filling in. Therefore when it comes to vector images, they are not affected by the size and appear the same for any size. The scale can be increased without any stress that the image will be distorted. Vector images suit the designs that are simplified and are based on solid colors. Raster images are pixelated with each pixel being of a different color. Every pixel contributed to the look of the whole image as they add color individually as a contributor. Basically, the image is a representation of the formation of colored dots that form the whole picture. This means that the raster images can be edited by the pixel with each pixel being open to change. Unlike vector images that are supposed to be simple with solid colors, raster images have the liberty to be complex, with the addition of a variety of colors too. The web designer or graphic designer has to be careful about which image type they choose. The raster images could be in jpeg, png or gif format. Unlike vector images, raster images do depend on their size and quality when translated. Basically, vector images constitute of intersections ad curves along with lines that form images and this allows for the image to be zoomed in. Therefore, the vector format is great when used for images. Raster images are composed of pixels and therefore get pixelated and cannot be zoomed in beyond a certain point. These are better when used for making logos for brands.

Dodge and burn tools

It is common to get confused between the two tools when using Photoshop for web or graphic designing because as you see here, these two are used to darken and lighten different parts of the picture or image. The dodge tool is used to lighten while the burn tool is used to darken. These are dependent on a darkroom technique which is a conventional method of controlling the exposure and light on the parts of the image. Therefore, if you use the tools over a particular image, it can lighten or darken different parts of the image. These add layers on the areas on which they are used.

Opacity and Fill

It is confusing when the opacity and fill option on the Photoshop seem to take the same action when used over a certain graphic. However, when a layer on the Photoshop has an opacity value for it, the alteration that this value brings will change the entire layer on which it has been used. The implication of this point is that the styles and blending mode for the layer will be altered too. However, for the fill option, it affects individual areas only. The fill value will affect only the highlighted pixels and the vector items. When the opacity value for the selected part is decreased, the shades are reduced as well. However, with the fill option, the effects are not affected at all.

Letterpress and Engraving

Engraving is quite the same as letterpress when looked from the surface because both the activities involve ink and use pressure worth two tons in the creation of the image. However, unlike the letterpress, engraving incorporates the imprint being sunk into the paper. This imprint is brought up and this gives an aesthetic to the stationery too. Engraving is usually the most beautiful of other manners of printing because the details can be paid attention to and it allows printing with a white ink on a comparatively darker background. Engraving is a bit more regal than the method of letterpress which is not all that formal. The present day technological advancements have provided the gravitas to get a more detailed version now. However, the pictures are still organized and simplified. Letterpress is a method in which the paper is indented with the letters written in ink. Engraving, however, is the letters pressed on the paper which allows these letters to be raised.

Italic and Oblique

Italic means that the typeface used is a bit at an angle which has a set of distinct characteristics for design in comparison to its oblique. These designs are separate and also correspond to each other, having a set of special and rare characteristics and distinct widths for each character too. The Italics can easily be confused with calligraphy writing too, as some are designed with a serif typeface too. However, if we exclude the serif typeface, it somehow seems to be similar to the oblique, this bringing about confusion. The obliques have been slanted type for their typeface although the design seems to be similar. The angle seems to be different when translated. These do not have the serif typeface commonly. Obliques too are slanted and corrected in the optical vision. This could all get confusing when addressed individually, therefore, the oblique represents a slanted sort of font that is not altered in any way. Italic however, is a bit slanted at an angled distance and the characters have been altered for a better and regal look.


These are usually interchangeable terms that are used as descriptions for the resolution which is the representation of the image. But this is a common misuse of both these terms as they both have different meanings. Dots per inch implies the quantity and number of dots which are constituted in a single inch of the image that is printed on paper. Pixels per inch however, refer to the number or quantity of pixels that come under an inch of the image that is being translated on to the computer screen.

Trim, crop and bleed

The trim tool is used to crop out the unnecessary pixels that are constituted in the image and need to be taken out. This can only be done around the borders of the image and not in the center areas. Cropping is the cutting out of any area that is outside of the one that has been selected. If you select a certain area in the crop tool, the area not selected will get cropped out. The bleed areas will be taken out once the image has been taken for printing.

About The Author :-

Hermit Chawla is an MD at AIS Technolabs PVT LTD which is a Web design and Development Company, helping global businesses to grow by Web Design Company USA. I would love to share thoughts on Social Media Marketing Services and Game Design Development etc.