Visual media will rise to prominence dramatically by 2024, it will be 40 times more likely to be shared later on social media than other content types. Therefore, designers must understand the fundamentals of key design languages.

Everyone may quickly progress from beginner to experienced and produce exquisitely created photographs for social media because we live in a lovely environment. The use of websites like Pablo and Canva is crucial to the viability and visual appeal of this design endeavor.

However, setting aside tools to elevate your designing skills, it’s imperative to enhance your comprehension of design.

Have you ever thought about what could happen if you had more design skills in your toolkit?

Improving your social media images from okay to fantastic is achievable. It begins with an understanding of some important design words and ideas.

If you want to improve your understanding of design and enhance the quality of your designs and social media photos, take a look at this design dictionary.

Design Jargon Definitions for Graphic Designers

  1. The Third Principle

Imagine that your image is covered in a 3×3 grid to apply the rule of thirds. After that, place the subject at the intersections of the guiding lines or along them. For example, you could align the horizon with the top or bottom line to make sure that items in the picture flow naturally from one area to the next.

Once your grid is set up, the points where the lines converge to form your design’s main focus points are highlighted.

  1. The Golden Ratio

It seems that taking a small but major step is necessary to take your social media photos from good to extraordinary. It begins with building a strong foundation and understanding fundamental design concepts and vocabulary.

Understand that improving your social media photos from okay to amazing is entirely achievable. Start by establishing a strong foundation and learning basic design concepts and terminology.

Terms about typefaces, text, and typography

  1. Serif

The tiny extra strokes or curves that appear at the extremities of letters are referred to as serifs

  1. Sans – serif

“Sans” means “without” in English, and a sans-serif font has no extra strokes at the ends of its letters. Serif fonts are recommended for print and headlines, while sans serif fonts are best suited for online body text. However, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to font choice.

  1. Script 

Script typefaces are defined by their fluidity in contrast to standard types, and they can be derived from historical or modern handwriting styles.

  1. Slab – serif 

In terms of style, slab serif fonts are more geometric compared to regular serif fonts. They are characterized by larger, bold serifs that have a squared-off appearance.

One of the best examples of a slab serif typeface is Museo Slab.

  1. Typography 

Typography is the visual representation of written words, as Practical Typography explains so beautifully. Every visually displayed text, whether it be on a billboard, screen, or piece of paper, has typography.


An ascender is the part of a lowercase letter that sticks up above the rest of the letter’s body. You can see it in letters like “b” or “h.”


A descender is the part of a lowercase letter that hangs below the main part of the letter. Think of the tail on a “g” or “p.”

  1. Baseline.

Every letter in a font rests on the baseline, which is the bottom line for most uppercase and many lowercase letters.

  1. Monospace

Every letter and character in a monospaced font also called a fixed-pitch, fixed-width, or non-proportional font, takes up an identical amount of horizontal space.

  1. Hierarchy

In any design or layout, an understanding of typographic hierarchy is essential. If you’ve never heard of hierarchy before, you’ve seen it in action on several websites, newspapers, or magazines.

  1. Kerning

Kerning pertains to the gap between individual letters (or other characters like numbers and punctuation), and refining this space enhances readability.

  1. Tracking 

Tracking in graphic design refers to the overall spacing between characters in a block of text. It determines the amount of space between each letter or glyph uniformly throughout a line or paragraph of text. Adjusting tracking can impact readability and the visual flow of text in a design.

  1. Leading 

In multi-line content, leading determines the vertical spacing between lines of text, keeping the proper distance between the top of the words below and the bottom of the words above to ensure reading.

  1. X-Height 

X-height refers to the height of the lowercase letters (excluding ascenders and descenders) in a typeface.

  1. Orphans / Widows

Orphan refers to a single word or very short line of text that appears at the end of a paragraph, separated from the rest of the paragraph. Widows are lone words or short lines that appear at the beginning or end of a paragraph, creating awkward spacing and disrupting the flow of text.

  1. Lorum Ipsum

Lorem Ipsum is used as dummy text because it offers a placeholder with a balanced letter distribution that looks like legible English. It takes the place of statements such as ‘Add content here’ in designs so that they look professional until the final copy is ready.


  1. CMYK

CMYK is a color system used for printing. In CMYK, colors start as white and become darker as more colors are mixed.

  1. RGB

The RGB color model creates a wide array of colors by blending red, green, and blue light in different combinations. This model is primarily used for digital displays, enabling the vibrant reproduction of images on screens.

  1. HEX

Hex codes are six-digit alphanumeric representations that are used to indicate colors in HTML, CSS, and other design software applications.

  1. Palette

A color palette is a collection of colors selected for use in drawings or designs that represent your brand. These colors are chosen to complement each other and achieve a harmonious, cohesive look.

  1. Pantone 

The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a standardized method for replicating colors accurately. Each color is assigned a unique number, simplifying the process of identifying and reproducing the exact shades consistently.

  1. Warm colours 

Warm colors include red, orange, and yellow, alone or mixed. They create a welcoming, cheerful, and snug atmosphere.

  1. Color theory

Color theory provides a clear framework for understanding colors. They are divided into three main categories: the color wheel, color harmony, and the context in which colors are used. Knowing how to use various colors to communicate messages is crucial in both design and marketing. Here’s a simple guide to how colors influence our brains:

  1. Cool colors

Cool colors like blue, green, and light purple can create a calming and soothing effect.

  1.  TINT

A tint is a version of a color. When you add white to any color on the color wheel, you create tints. This process makes the color lighter and less vibrant by reducing its intensity.

  1. Analogous

Analogous color schemes involve using colors that sit beside each other on the color wheel. These colors typically blend nicely together, resulting in calm and pleasing designs.

  1. Complementary

Colors positioned opposite each other on the color wheel are known as complementary colors. For instance, red and green are examples of complementary colors.

  1. Tridaic

A triadic color scheme involves using colors that are evenly spread out around the color wheel.

  1. Gradient

A gradient is when colors smoothly transition from one to another, like green shifting gradually to blue, or a color gently fading away into transparency. Gradients commonly come in two types: radial, which radiates from a central point, and linear, which progresses in a straight line.

  1. Opacity

Opacity allows us to make parts of a design see-through. The lower the opacity, the more see-through the part becomes. For instance, when something has 100% opacity, it’s completely solid.

  1. Hue 

Put simply, a hue is just another word for a color. Any color you can think of, like red, blue, or yellow, is considered a hue. It’s like picking a shade from the color wheel.

Design Terminologies and Methodologies

  1. Scale 

Scale simply means the size of one thing compared to another. If two things are the same size, we see them as equal. But when there’s a noticeable size difference, we see them as different. Whenever you design something, consider how you can use a scale to show what you mean. 

For example, look at these circles: the bigger one seems more powerful and important than the smaller one. You might even think the smaller one looks a bit shy.

  1. Aspect Ratio

An aspect ratio tells you how wide and tall a rectangle is relative to each other. It’s like a special math rule written as two numbers with a colon between them. This is often used for screens because most of them are wider than they are tall.

  • In the ratio of width to height
  • This means that if something is 4 inches wide and 3 inches high, the ratio between the width and height is 4:3.

In simple terms, a texture refers to the surface qualities of your image. In design, you can use textures like cloth or brick patterns to mimic the look of real textures.


Knolling is when you organize objects neatly, positioning them at right angles from each other, and then taking a picture from above. This method gives a balanced and tidy appearance that’s pleasing to look at. Typically, knolling photos are taken against a plain background to make the objects stand out.

  1. White space 

Whitespace, also called negative space, is the empty area in a design. It’s the space between pictures, text, and other elements. Despite its name, whitespace doesn’t have to be white, it can be any color. A great instance of whitespace is the Google homepage, where most of the page is left blank to draw attention to the search bar.

  1. Contrast 

When two things on a page look different, for instance, it could be when the text color is different from the background color or when there’s a contrast between dark and light colors. 

Contrast in your designs is important because it helps grab people’s attention. Take the iPod silhouette ads, for instance. They are super memorable because of the major difference between the white iPod and earphones against the colorful background and the dark silhouette.

  1. Resolution

The clarity and sharpness of an image are determined by its resolution. Put simply, higher resolution means better quality. A high-resolution image appears sharp and detailed, whereas a low-resolution image may appear fuzzy and pixelated.

  1. Saturation

Saturation is how intense and pure a color looks. More saturation means the color appears brighter and more vivid, while less saturation makes it look duller.

Images with high saturation catch the eye and grab attention, making them seem more important than less saturated ones. If you’re putting text on a picture and want it to pop, using a background with lower saturation can help it stand out.

  1. Blur 

Blurring makes images look fuzzier or less clear. Blurring can help text pop out when placed on top of an image. When text and images are combined, they can sometimes clash (like the example on the left), but a bit of blurring can make the text easier to read and stand out (like the example on the right).

  1. Crop

Crop refers to removing portions of an image or design to focus on a specific area or to adjust its composition.

  1. Pixel

A pixel is the smallest unit of a digital image. Each pixel contains color information and contributes to the overall composition of the image displayed on a screen or printed material.

  1. Skeuomorphism

Skeuomorphism happens when something in digital form is made to resemble its physical counterpart. For instance, consider the calculator on an iPhone or the newsstand in Apple’s design, where the shelves and magazines mimic their real-life counterparts in appearance and texture.

  1. Flat 

A flat design keeps things simple and easy to use. It’s all about clean lines, bright colors, and simple shapes, without any fancy 3D effects. Think of it as the opposite of making things look like real-life objects.

  1. Raster 

Raster images are created from a grid of tiny dots called pixels. When you resize or stretch a raster image, it can become fuzzy and lose some sharpness.

  1. Vector 

Vector images are created using points, lines, and curves, all connected through mathematical calculations. This special construction allows vector images to be resized without losing quality. Unlike raster images, vectors stay sharp even when scaled up. You can discover excellent vector images for your designs on websites like Vecteezy

  1. DPI

DPI (dots per inch) measures how detailed a printer can make an image. To get crisp prints, it’s suggested to use 300 dpi. For instance, if you have a 1200×1800 pixel image at 300 dpi, it will turn out as a 4×6 inch print.

  1. PPI 

PPI (pixels per inch) tells you how many pixels are packed into each inch of a digital image. It’s a way to measure how clear and detailed an image will look on electronic devices like scanners, cameras, TVs, or monitors. If you’re curious, you can also explore the distinction between DPI and PPI.

  1. Bleed 

Bleed might sound a bit scary, but it’s just when a design goes beyond the edge of the printed page. This ensures there won’t be any white borders when the design is trimmed after printing.

  1. TRIM 

The trim size is basically the size of a printed item after it’s been cut out of the page. This cutting is done along lines called crop marks that guide where to make the cuts.

logos and Branding

  1. Logotype 

A logotype is the unique visual design of a company’s name, created specifically for the company’s use. When people talk about a logo, they usually mean the company’s logotype.

  1. Logomark/ Brandmark 

A logo mark usually doesn’t include the company’s name. Instead, it represents the company more symbolically with a unique symbol or mark.

  1. ICON 

Icons are pictures that stand for something you can do or something you might see. For instance, a little picture of a pen might mean you’re writing or just that there’s a pen there. When you pick icons, make sure they show exactly what you mean, so your audience gets it easily.

  1. Style Guide 

a style guide is a document that outlines the visual and design elements used to maintain consistency in branding and communication.

  1. Grid 

A grid is made up of evenly divided columns and rows. Its purpose is to assist designers in organizing elements consistently. Here’s an example of the grid we use at Buffer:

With the buffer design grid, you can split a page into fifths, fourths, thirds, and halves, or mix them however you like. Each row of the grid needs to total one whole, like having one-fourth plus one-half plus one-fourth in one row.

Font case 

Usually, characters come in two different forms.

  1. Uppercase 

Uppercase letters in a font are big and capitalized. Your mom might accidentally use them when she texts to seem like she’s yelling at you


  1.  Lowercase 

Lowercase simply means the smaller letters in a font.

  1. Small caps 

Small caps, or small capitals, are uppercase letters that match the height of lowercase letters. They’re used to keep capitalized words from looking too big on the page. You can find an example in almost any book by checking out the first words of a chapter

Font style 

Apart from adjusting the spacing and capitalization, fonts can also be changed by modifying their size, thickness, and appearance.

  1. Point size 

Point size refers to the size of the text. In simple terms, there are around 72 points in one inch.

  1. Font weight 

Point size refers to the size of the text. Roughly, there are about 72 points in one inch

  1. Italics

When text slants to the right, it’s in italics. This is a way to make certain words or sentences stand out in a paragraph and catch your eye.

Image file format 

An image file format is like a set of rules for saving art, graphics, and photos on a computer. It makes sure everything is stored in a consistent and organized way so that computers can understand and display them correctly.

Vector graphics 

Vector graphics are small images that use math to look good, no matter how big or small they are. They’re really useful for things like billboards or business cards, where you need the design to look great on different sizes and types of screens or paper.

  1.  AI

Vector graphics are tiny pictures that use math to show images. They can get bigger without getting blurry and are super important for designs that need to look good on different kinds of things, like big billboards or small business cards.

  1. EPS 

EPS stands for Encapsulated PostScript. It’s a file format that can be resized without losing quality and is often used for designs made of vectors. Because it maintains high quality, it’s popular for print materials like logos, business cards, or brochures.

  1. PDF 

A PDF is a file format made by Adobe called Portable Document Format. It works on any computer and can be easily downloaded and viewed. PDFs are great for sharing previews of your work because everyone can see them, no matter what kind of computer they have.

  1. GIF 

GIF, short for Graphics Interchange Format, is a type of image file that can show animations and see-through areas. GIFs use a limited range of colors, up to 256, which keeps their file sizes small. (PS: The creator of GIFs, Steve Wilhite, says it’s pronounced “JIF” instead of the more common “GIF.”) 

  1.  JPEG 

JPEG, short for Joint Photographic Experts Group, is a common type of image file used a lot on the web. They’re compressed files, which means they load fast. You’ll find JPEGs in emails, banners, online pictures, and everywhere online. Unlike GIFs, they can’t have a see-through background. Instead, they automatically get a white background.

  1.   PNG 

PNG, which stands for Portable Network Graphics, is a web format that maintains its quality even when compressed. It was developed to enhance the quality of GIF files.

  1. PSD       

PSD, short for Photoshop Document, is the original file made by designers using Adobe Photoshop. It holds all the design elements in their full detail, like layers and effects.

  1. TIFF

TIFF, which stands for Tagged Image File Format, is a popular way to share detailed pictures between different programs. It creates better-quality images than JPEGs or PNGs, and publishers and photographers commonly use it. Just remember, it’s not the same as disagreeing with your designer over too many revision rounds!