Graphic design jargon

I never realized how much jargon is involved in graphic design. I guess all industries have their own jargon, but in the space of 24 hours as I have been around non-designers I have realized how we have a language all our own.

Last night we had a church directory layout meeting. The other graphic designer and I talked about Illustrator, Photoshop, Indesign, creating master pages, vector illustrations, sRGB images, curves, alpha channels, PDF font embedding, placing images, and —my personal favorite—how we hate Comic Sans. The other person there, a nondesigner, was no doubt bored silly!

This morning I had a communications meeting to discuss Powerpoint slides with this person, who is developing in this area and I started to see glazed eyes when I talked about advancing/receding colors, using white space and elements to guide the eye around the page, grid alignment, image size reduction, and Live Trace.

Then a little later I helped someone else with a t-shirt project and talked to the t-shirt printer about tight registration, Pantone colors, custom color mixing charges, vector graphics vs. jpgs and minimum line widths for t-shirt printing. The person I was helping just stood there looking dazed, wondering what in the world it was all about.

After that I talked to the printer about printing our welcome cards, talking about bleeds, imposing, parent sheets, and work and turn.

I’m sure to non-designers I am totally spouting gibberish, whereas designers know exactly what I am talking about.

Surprisingly, every one of these projects is for our church, not the typical place where you would find this kind of communication. I’m just thankful that my training is being put to use instead of just rusting away unused!

On another note, you know you are a graphic designer when you are terribly excited that your church just got a brand new Xerox color copier!!!! As my friend Rob put it: “You are officially the only person I know who has gotten extremely excited over the delivery of a machine that spits color onto pieces of paper.”

It’s one of the occupational hazards of being a graphic designer!

Of course, I also love working with nondesigners. One nondesigner friend found for me today a font called “I Hate Comic Sans.”


A Yee

Angela Yee is a professional designer (graphic design, stage design, interior design — and teaches leadership skills at

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  1. corriespondent - September 11, 2008

    Recent Comic Sans sightings:

    1. MOPS newsletter – article heading text.

    2. Super Baby Food book – chapter title text.


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