Archive for the ‘Graphic Design Terms’ Category

Graphic Design Terms 17-18: Tracking vs Kerning

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

Tracking: the consistent increase (or decrease) in the amount of space between letters that alters the density in a line or block of textSimply put, in typography, tracking is a consistent increase (or decrease) in the amount of space between letters so as to alter the density in a line or block of text, whereas kerning is the process used to adjust spacing between a pair of individual letters to achieve a more visually appealing effect.

In other words, with tracking adjustments, letter spacing is even whereas with kerning adjustments  spacing may vary between individual characters. To make manual adjustments, tracking is done across 2 or more letters, whereas kerning is done between 2 letters. (more…)

Graphic Design Terms 15-16: Point Size vs Pixel Size

Monday, January 18th, 2016

When I first started in the typesetting and desktop publishing business we talked in picas and points and all ads were created using these units of measurement to specify size and placement of individual elements. As I moved onto creating graphics and enhancing photos in Photoshop, I learned about pixels. But what is the difference between point size and pixel size?

Point size is a unit of measurement used for fonts. Pixel size on the other hand, is a unit of measurement used for images. Pixel size is also used to measure screen widths and heights on any device on which images and videos are viewed or printed.

A point is the smallest size in a font and, in digital desktop publishing, it equates to 1/72 of an international inch. One point, or 1 pt, is 1/12 of a pica, and there are 12 picas to an inch. Thus, when I was coding ads in the early days of my career (see my post on My journey to becoming a graphic designer), I learned how to accurately measure both the height and width of ads and position individual elements in picas and points, a much finer unit than regular inch increments (sixteenths).

A pixel refers to the smallest point (or dot) in a raster image (photo, jpg, png etc.), as well as videos, since they are graphics based. Each pixel is a sample of the image. The size of the actual pixel depends on the number of samples per inch and the device on which it is viewed and/or printed. The more samples, or pixels, per inch the smaller and finer the sample, thus the better quality the image.

PS: I had a really busy week with clients and other business operations last week so I’m a bit behind on my blog and do not have time to create or find graphics to accompany this post.

Graphic Design Terms 13-14: x-height and cap height

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Example of x-heights in different type stylesIn my previous post, I mentioned x-height. Were you wondering what it meant?

It sounds pretty obvious, right? And it is. So is cap height.

In typography, the x-height is the height of lowercase letters that do not have an ascender or descender, represented by the lower case letter x. It is the distance between the baseline and the mid line of a font. (Picture those middle lines in your cursive writing exercise book or see the first image). (more…)

Graphic Design Terms 11-12: Ascender vs Descender

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Ascender: the part of a lowercase letterthat extends above the mean line, or x-height, of a fontHave you heard the terms ascender and descender? Do you know what they are?

An ascender is the part of a lowercase letter that extends above the mean line of a font, or x-height, whereas the descender is the part that appears below the base line of a font. (See the next post in 2 days time if you’re not sure what the x-height is.)

Letters with ascenders are usually: b, d, f, h, k, l, t.

Letters with descenders are usually: g, j, p, q, y. Lowercase f and z also have descenders in many typefaces.


Graphic Design Terms 9-10: Legibility vs Readability

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

Legibility: a measure of how easy it is to distinguish one letter or character from another in a particular typeface, i.e. it is a function of typeface designWhen it comes to choosing typefaces and fonts in graphic design, it’s important to make sure they are both legible and readable. But what’s the difference?

Legibility is a measure of how easy it is to distinguish one letter or character from another in a particular typeface, i.e. it is a function of typeface design. The degree of legibility therefore depends on the style of the typeface being used.

Readability on the other hand, is a measure of how easily words, phrases and blocks of text can be read, i.e. it’s a function of typography. The degree of readability therefore depends on how blocks of text are arranged across a page, as well as what typefaces are being used.

If you can clearly define individual letters and characters in a particular typeface, then it is legible. If you can easily read a block or page of text, it is readable. (more…)

Graphic Design Terms 7-8: Script vs Decorative

Friday, January 8th, 2016

Can you recognize a script typeface from a decorative typeface?

When trying to determine if a typeface is script or decorative, picture the cursive (joined up) writing you learned at school vs the elaborate words you artistically drew on the cover of your exercise books.

Script: Typefaces that look like joined up handwriting, ranging from casual to formal cursive writingScript typefaces that look like joined up handwriting with curves, loops and swirls that flow between letters so they each appear joined, whereas decorative typefaces have embellishments or decorative elements added to them.

Script typefaces range from casual, looser styles to highly organized more formal styles that resemble cursive handwriting.

Decorative typefaces tend to have a more blocky or chunky style with space between individual letters. As well, decorative typefaces may only include fonts in capital letters. Script typefaces include both upper and lower case letters, but capitalized script is usually very hard to read.


Graphic Design Terms 5-6: Serif vs Sans Serif

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

Can you tell the difference between a serif and a sans serif typeface?

Serif: a typeface with serifs,the line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter or a symbol.Don’t worry, if you answered, “No,” you are not alone. Before starting graphic design or website design projects for new clients, I often ask whether they prefer a serif or sans-serif typeface. Many do not know the difference between the two. If it’s the same for you, the following definition may help.

In typography, the line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter or a symbol, is called a serif. Therefore, a typeface with serifs is called a “serif” typeface. A typeface without serifs is called “sans serif” from the French word “sans” meaning “without.” (more…)

Graphic Design Terms 3-4: Typeface vs Font

Monday, January 4th, 2016

Do you know the difference between a typeface and a font? These are two terms many people mix up all the time. It doesn’t help that font is used a lot in web design and for the most part, when searching online, most people use the search term “font” instead of typeface. I used both terms in my previous post when comparing typesetting and typography. It’s no wonder they are muddled since it is hard to define one without using the other term. (more…)

Graphic Design Terms 1-2: Typesetting vs Typography

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

In my previous post, My journey to becoming a graphic designer, I mentioned typesetting several times. I also mentioned typography. Have you ever wondered what the difference between them is?

Typesetting is the “process” of arranging or composing text ready for printing whereas typography is the “art and technique” of arranging text so that it is visually appealing and readable. (more…)