Design Lexicon – A to C

21 février 2019
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The act of matching graphical elements edges to each other’s, using guides and lines. Paragraphs can be aligned as left-aligned, right-aligned, center-aligned or justified (aligned both to the left and to the right).

Analogous (Colors)

A term linked to color theory that defines a set of colors that are adjacent on the color wheel (example blue and green-blue or red and red-orange). Analogous colors offer little contrast, they create subtle color palettes.


Ascenders are the part of a letter, in lowercase, that ascends above the main part of the letter. You will find ascenders in the letters b, d, h or k.

Descenders are the part of a letter, in lowercase, that descends below the baseline or the main part of the letter. You will find descenders in the letters y, p, g and j.

Aspect ratio

Aspect ratio, often used in web design or screen specifications, defines the proportion between width and height. Most often used to define the proportion of a rectangle, it is formed with the width, à colon, and the height. For instance 16:9 (pronounced « 16 by 9 ») is a widely used aspect ratio for screens such as 1920×1080 pixel ones. To obtain the right aspect ratio, one has to reduce the dimensions to their smallest common denominator. For instance 1920×1080 divided by 120 = 16:9. Other widely used aspects ratios are 2:3, 4:3, 2:1 or 1:1.


Refers to the distribution of visual weight, being the space occupied by a visual element (text or graphic). To accomplish a good balance one has to distribute elements evenly in the composition. There is three types of balance: symmetrical, asymmetrical and radial.

Symmetrical balance

Created when elements are identical on both sides of an axis.

Asymmetrical balance

When all elements are evenly distributed on both sides of a certain axis but aren’t identical. For instance a paragraph on one side, and an image on the other.

Radial symmetry

When elements are evenly distributed around a central point, but elements aren’t necessarily identical.


In typography, the line on which letters sit. It is the lowest point where uppercase letters rest.


Comes from print design. The act of extending an element over the edge of the page, to make sure there won’t be a white border when it is trimmed down.
It also defines the actual space or line that extends past the page canvas.


An effect often given to images to make things less distinct or sharp. It can decrease the distraction caused by a background image, and it can create a greater depth, making elements that are laid on top of the image more readable.

Body Copy

The main content of a page, design or article. The titles are known as the headers, and the paragraphs as the body.


The perception and associations of ideas linked to a certain company, organisation or person. The emotional response, based on all the experiences a person has had with it.

Brand Identity

The characteristics, values, and beliefs that a company, organisation or personality has defined as its core. It is the way a brand will present itself. Sometimes in design, it includes visual elements that convey this identity.

Brand Image

The visual and verbal guidelines and all the visual elements that constitute the brand’s communication as an effort to convey its identity to its audience.

Brandmark / logomark

Part of a logo that represents the company in a pictural or abstract manner. Opposed to the logotype, which is the part of a logo that spells out the name of the company.

Color Theory

A set of principles based on the science of colors. At its basis is the color wheel. It generally encompasses different methods for selecting colors in a palette and predicting the visual and emotional results of those choices.

Complementary (Colors)

Part of color theory. It defines a combination of colors that uses two colors that are directly opposed on the color wheel. It is know as the way to combine colors that offers the most contrast.


Contrast can be used to define colors, textures, fonts or shapes. Contrast is achieved by combining different elements that are the most distinct. For instance using a cold color like blue, with a warm color like orange will create a lot of contrast. Contrast is used to convey opposition, dynamism or complementarity.

Cool Colors

The colors that range from blue to green, to purple. These are opposed to warm colors, such as yellow, orange and red.


The act of reframing an image or composition by changing the boundaries to hide or show more or less of the image.


Also called layout, it describes the way different zones of the design are placed. Usually understood by tracing lines and outlines around the main subject matter of the design. A good composition will help the viewer make sense of the content and lead him/her to the right element.


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