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i’m fluent in two languages: english and design. technically, i should be fluent in spanish, too, after 4 years of it in high school, but, eh not so much.

in the design world, there’s a whole ton of acronyms and lingo. and if you’re new to it, it can totally sound like a foreign language!

here are some of the most common words, phrases, and acronyms you’ll come across:

CMYK: this stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, black. the four process colors that are used in the printing process.

RGB: red, green, blue. the three colors that are used to create the colors on-screen

PMS: no, not that :). in the design world, this stands for Pantone Matching System. it’s a whole catalog of ink colors made from specific formulas that are used around the world. one of the recommended tools in the beginning of the series!

leading: the vertical space between lines of type

kerning: the space between individual letters in a word

tracking: the overall spacing of letters in a whole word or line of text

plates: no, not the kind you eat off of. in printing, plates are used in various printing processes and can be made from a variety of materials. (depending on the printing process used.) think of them sorta like a rubber stamp. the art that is on the plate, once covered with ink and applied to paper, creates the printed art. a separate plate is needed for every color being used in printing. so, four-color process printing (CMYK) would require four plates, one for each color. programs like indesign allow you to preview these as “separations”, so you can verify everything.

separations: (seps) are used in printing to create the individual plates needed for each color being printed. so let’s say you're using a photo of yellow tulips. everything else is black text. while it might look like the image is mostly made up of yellow, there’s likely black, cyan and magenta mixed in there. so to print this, your printer will take your file and separate it into 4 printing plates. the plates are then run on the press one after the other. as all the colors are layered on top of each other, they create the photo you see on your screen! neat, huh?

PDF: actually stands for Portable Document Format. is basically a document that anybody can open. but over the years has become quite a powerful tool if you have the Acrobat Pro application. you can edit the file right in acrobat, add comments, make the files interactive, create fillable forms etc.

glyphs: derived from the word hieroglyphics, glyphs are alternate/extra characters and symbols within a font. each font is different and may or may not have these available. when the option is there, definitely consider them to add unique details to your designs.

points: nope, not keeping score here. this term is actually used in design as a measurement. point size is most commonly used to describe size of text and other elements, like the thickness of a line. it is also one of the units to describe the thickness of paper stock. 

pounds: in the design world, this is used to describe the thickness (weight) of a paper stock.

soooo how'd you do? did you know all these? are there other terms you have heard that you're not sure about? let me know!

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