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  • anna jordan

Design Jargon Decoded: For the CEO Who Thinks Kerning is a City in Germany

Updated: Sep 8, 2023


There has always been a special kind of dance between the sharp-dressed business execs and those enigmatic design gurus.


We've all seen it: In one corner, we have the creative team, dropping terms like “vector” and “resolution,” like they're chart-topping hits on Spotify...



And in the other, our dear managers and accountants—whom we'll affectionately refer to as "normies"—tapping along in slight confusion.



If you find yourself snickering at your less design-minded friends, remember when "pixel-perfect" was as elusive as a hipster’s ideal espresso blend? There was a time when you didn't know brands had identities much less your own.


And yet, as a marketing consultant and designer, my soul dies a little every time I ask if there's a “working file” and am met with stares rivaling a deer in headlights (or projectors — if that deer also attended too many budget meetings.)


So today, we're lifting the curtain on a few of these mystical terms and distinguishing the ones that'll have our "normies" nodding with understanding from those that should remain in the sacred sanctum of design lingo.



#1 Kerning


Designer's Definition:

The adjustment of space between individual letters in a word.


*Anna's Articulation:

Letters not into group hugs


Boardroom Banter:

'Letter spacing'


The Verdict:

"Letter spacing" clinches this one. It's clear, and concise, and saves everyone a trip to the design dictionary...or google maps.




#2 Leading


Designer's Definition:

The vertical space between lines of text.


*Anna's Articulation:

The vertical cha-cha between lines of text.


Boardroom Banter:

‘The gap between the lines’


The Verdict:

"Leading" is unique, and once you know it, it's unforgettable. Plus, it's just one word! However, for our corporate friends who are focused on doing the leading let’s stick to the Queen’s English and mind the ‘gap’




#3 Portrait & Landscape


Designer's Definition:

Vertical and horizontal orientations, respectively.


*Anna's Articulation:

A canvas's preference to stand tall or chill sideways.


Boardroom Banter:

Vertical = Hotdog. Horizontal = Hamburger.


The Verdict:

"Portrait & Landscape" are evergreen. They're here to stay, so it's either get on board or, well, go eat a hotdog.





#4 CMYK & RGB


Designer's Definition:

CMYK refers to the four ink plates used in color printing: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (black). RGB refers to the color mode used for digital displays: Red, Green, and Blue.


*Anna's Articulation:

CMYK is the soul of print, RGB is the heart of screens.


Boardroom Banter:

'Print colors' and 'Screen colors'


The Verdict:

For simplicity's sake, "Print colors" and "Screen colors" will do, but a little CMYK and RGB knowledge never hurt anyone.




#5 Typography


Designer's Definition:

The art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable, and appealing.


*Anna's Articulation:

Picking what clothes words wear to the party


Boardroom Banter:

'Font styles' or 'Text design'


The Verdict:

"Typography" is like the fine wine of design lingo – elegant and sophisticated. It's not going anywhere. Cheers!



 

In the world of design, language can either be a bridge or a barrier. So, here's to making design concepts accessible to a broader audience through a mutual understanding that everyone can get behind.


Stay tuned for more terms! If you enjoyed this article, let me know your thoughts or share with someone you think would find it useful.


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