10 Design Terms You’re Probably Misusing

10 Design Terms You're Probably Misusing - Bloguettes


10 Design Terms You're Probably Misusing - Bloguettes: Is there a difference between font and typeface? What's kerning? If you don't know the answers, we're going over the 10 design terms you're probably misusing!

When it comes to design, there’s nobody better to ask about the difference between wordmark and lettermark than our Creative Director Amy. While the majority of the world won’t confront you when you say ‘font’ instead of ‘typeface,’ it’s important to know the actual meanings behind each term and how to use it to your advantage. We asked Amy to come up with a list of 10 design terms most people aren’t using correctly and she came up with these! Read Amy’s tips below!

As the Creative Director here at Bloguettes, I use these terms (whether spoken or not) on a daily basis and without hesitation, can say that I’ve misused them a time or two. After some research, I’ve pulled together a list of 10 terms that are commonly misused, or just need a little clarifying. So whether you’re a graphic design newbie or alum, take a look at my list below to brush up on your vocab!

Typeface vs. Font

A typeface refers to a family of fonts (Arial is a typeface). A font, on the other hand, is a variation of a typeface (Arial bold, Arial light, and Arial italic are all fonts).

Tracking vs. Kerning

Tracking is the adjustment of uniform space between a group of letters or an entire word. Kerning is the spacing between individual letters or characters in a word.

Vector vs. Raster

Vector images are lines, curves, and paths made from a mathematical formula. This gives you the capability for unlimited zooming, think logos & physical materials. Raster images are made from a collection of pixels, leaving you a little bit more limited in your zooming capabilities (if you zoom in far enough you’ll see a bunch of tiny squares). Most photos are raster images aka JPG, PNG, and GIFs.

Negative Space vs. White Space

Essentially the same thing. White space was originally referred to as the portion of space left unmarked on a page. Now often used when referring to the space left between columns, graphics, lines of types, and other design elements. Using negative or white space helps to give your design a clean, uncluttered, and depending on how much you use it, can also give a minimalistic feel.

Wireframe vs. Prototype

A wireframe can be best described as a blueprint of a design. Visually they are very limited while the main focus is on representing the levels of hierarchy within the design. Prototypes give you the ability to interact and test your design so that you can better improve it before the final stage. 


DPI refers to the number of dots per inch on a printed page while PPI refers to the pixels per inch of a digital image.

Wordmark vs. Lettermark

A wordmark is a uniquely styles text logo that spells out the actual name of a company or brand. While a lettermark is style of letters that represent the company or brand often through the use of initials or abbreviations.

Tint vs. Shade vs. Tone

A tint of a color is established by adding white which results in a lighter color. A shade is when you add black to any color which then darkens it. Tone is established when a color is greyed down (either by adding grey, or a mixture of black and white), so darkening it a bit while “toning it down”/saturating the colors a bit.

Dodge vs. Burn

When intending to lighten an image you’d add a dodge layer and when you’d like to darken the image you’d add a burn tool. Dodge = Lighter / Burn = Darker

Opacity vs. Fill

Reducing the opacity of an object it also reduced the look of any effects (drop shadow, stroke, outer glow) you may have given it.  If you reduce the fill any effects you add then are then left alone.

Whew, okay so that’s a lot to take in…which is why I’ve created you a little cheat sheet! Be sure to reference back to this so that you can confidentially use these terms when working on your next project!