Remember back in school when you had to learn your vocabulary words? You might have griped and groaned a little bit, but now you’re happy you know words like “unconscionable,” so you can say things like, “It’s unconscionable that I have to learn this huge vocabulary list.”

See? Vocabulary.

Also, those new words could help you connect with your graphic designer. When you understand graphic design jargon, you’re more likely to get the designs that you want.

With that in mind, check out these common graphic design terms that you need to know. And don’t worry, you won’t be quizzed at the end.


Typography refers to the appearance and style of the typeface. Graphic designers use artistic elements to ensure the typeface is visually appealing while maintaining its readability.

Related POST: What Your Graphic Designers Need to Hit the Mark

Orphans and Widows

Orphans and widows refer to the single words or short lines that appear alone on the top or bottom of a written column. Designers remove orphans and widows to create cleaner designs.

Lorem Ipsum

Lorem Ipsum is the dummy text that designers use as a placeholder so people can see the design before the text is ready. If you see this in a draft design, understand that this is temporary copy.

Color Palette

A color palate refers to all the colors used in the design work. Brands should have a palette of colors that complement each other.

Related POST: How to Write a Creative Brief Your Designer Will Love


Monochrome is the word used for designs that are in black and white or contain multiple shades of one color.

Complementary colors

Complementary colors are on the opposite ends of the color wheel but complement each other. Red and green are examples of complementary colors.

Related POST: Graphic Design vs. Art

Warm colors

Warm colors are those that give a happy, exciting vibe. Designers consider orange, yellow, and red to be warm colors. They might use a single warm color or a combination of warm colors.

Related POST: 5 Things You Need for Your First Design Meeting

Cool Colors

Calming and soothing colors are referred to as cool colors. Blue, light purple, and green are all cool colors.


Images or symbols that represent brands are referred to as logomarks. These marks typically do not include the company’s name, but they do create a visual identity.


When designers style a brand name to look like a logo, it’s referred to as a logotype. Brands can have logotypes and logomarks. Facebook, Adobe, and Android are examples of brands that use logomarks and logotypes.

Related POST: Why You Should Ask Your Printer about their Creative Team

Style Guide

Your internal marketing team should maintain a style guide that dictates the standards for your branding. This guide will often include information such as exact specifications the company logo, brand colors, fonts, and more. Your designer will need a copy of your style guide when creating marketing materials for you. Alternatively, if you are creating a new brand or going through a brand refresh, your designer may be able to help you create this guide.

Learn These Terms and More

It’s important to speak the language if you’re going to have a good working relationship with your graphic designer. When you know the language, you can explain what you want out of the design.

Do you still feel like learning all this jargon is “unconscionable?” Then you need Ironmark on your side. We already know the lingo, and we can translate it into words you understand. Set up a chat with us and find out how we can take your graphics to the next level.


Written by Lynne Kingsley

Lynne Kingsley oversees the digital marketing client services team as well as the marketing strategy division for the company. Since joining the company in 2016, she has increased Ironmark’s digital presence by over 700%, establishing a new lead generation mechanism for the sales team. A certified inbound marketing professional and HubSpot agency partner, Kingsley has been helping companies transform their marketing function into fully diverse and streamlined growth engines since 2003. With agency and client-side work under her belt, Kingsley’s strategic experience spans both the B2B and B2C sectors. Prior to joining the Ironmark team, she served as in-house marketing director for several non-profit organizations. Kingsley is an honors graduate of the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University.
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