Graphic Design Glossary Vol. 2


Terms your designer is using, but you don’t know what they mean

Every field has it’s own set of terms—words that when thrown around in conversation with people outside your expertise just sound like a foreign language. Graphic Design is no different. Below you’ll find a list of 10 more words or abbreviations I use frequently, and their definition in layman’s terms. Check out the first 10 words of my Graphic Design Glossary.

High Res / High Resolution

This refers to the quality of an image or file. With the dawn of digital photography came the dawn of poor quality photos. Although digital cameras (and smart phones) have come a long way in the past five or six years, it’s still up to you to make sure the settings on your camera are yielding a large-enough file size so Aunt Jenny doesn’t wind up looking pixelated when you print out her photo. You need high resolution to print something. Generally, look for your jpeg photo files to be at least 1 to 2 megabytes in file size, and at least 300 DPI (for more on DPI, see below). This means your photo is semi-decent for printing a 4×6 print. But if we’re looking to get something larger, say a big beautiful cover photo for your next brochure, look for a file size of at least 8 to 10 megabytes.

Low Res / Low Resolution

A low resolution photo or image is probably only going to work for on-screen applications. For instance, are you sending out an e-blast or adding a headshot to your website? You probably only need a low-resolution image. Generally, this means something that is 72 DPI (for more on DPI, see below). A 500 kilobyte file size is probably okay here, depending on how large you want the image to appear on screen. Planning on printing your photo or image? Low resolution is not for you.


DPI stands for Dots Per Inch. It refers to the resolution of an image being printed. An image being printed usually requires 300 dots per inch at the size it is being rendered.


PPI stands for Pixels Per Inch. It refers to the resolution of an image being used digitally, such as on a website or a monitor. An image requires a much lower PPI to reproduce well on screen than it does in print. 72 pixels per inch is a standard for websites.


Were you asked to clear your cache (pronounced cash)? Your cache is all the web data your browser has stored in order for websites you revisit to load faster. Are updates being made to your website, but to you, it looks like the website hasn’t changed at all? Likely, this means your browser has stored an older version of the site, and is showing that to you, instead of displaying the new version. So if your designer or developer has asked you to Empty your Cache, that simply means deleting all the data your browser has stored about the website, so it will know to download the new data. The procedure for doing this varies across different browsers, so just Google “Empty Cache [browser and version here]” and you’re sure to find the solution.


Inside Front Cover / Inside Back Cover

The IFC (or inside front cover) is what appears on the reverse side of the cover of your brochure, book, or magazine. If you considered the cover to be page 1, then the IFC is page 2. The IBC (or inside back cover) is what appears on the flip side of the back cover. Often, the cover is not referred to with a page number, and neither is the back cover. So let’s say you have an 8-page booklet. The pagination would be as follows: Cover, IFC, Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, IBC, Back Cover. So, you have 8 actual pages, but only 4 pages that are numerically titled.

Serif Font

A serif font is a typographical term for a font that has strokes at the end of the letters. Some common serif fonts include Times New Roman, Georgia, and Courier.

Sans Serif Font

A sans serif font (sans meaning without) is a typographical term for a font that does not have strokes at the end of the letters. Some common sans serif fonts include Arial, Helvetica, and Verdana.


CMS stands for Content Management System, and is a term used in web development. It has become much easier for anybody to update their own website, and add content to their website, thanks to Content Management Systems. Some CMS options these days include WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. Content Management Systems can also be customized, or built from the ground up for completely unique CMSs.


A proof, in printing terms, is a digital printout of your project. Proofs are not done on the actual paper that your project will print on. And these days, a printed proof is becoming less common with the arrival of many online printers. Instead of a printed proof, you may get a PDF proof. With any proof, you are looking for many things: Is everything spelled right? Do the colors match what you expected? Is everything cropped right? Is all the text in the safe area? Did all the fonts print properly? With a printed proof, it’s more important to review for color, whereas a PDF proof is still an on-screen proof, and there are no color-match guarantees between what you see on-screen and what gets printed.