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6 terms your graphic designer needs to know

Graphic design, just like any other profession, is full of jargon and terms that you may not be familiar with.

However, operating as a graphic designer without knowing certain design terms is like trying to build an Egyptian pyramid upside down, simply meaning that it can’t work that way.

If you are looking for a graphic designer, they should know the following 6 basic terms otherwise their credibility is somehow questionable.


1. DPI

DPI simply stands for ‘dots per inch’ and refers to the number of dots per inch printed on a page.

Up to a certain point, printers with higher DPI generate clearer and more detailed output.

However, an individual printer does not necessarily have a single DPI measurement, its DPI ability depends on the print mode at the time, and this is usually influenced by the driver settings of the printer.

Higher DPI values are slightly smoother, use more ink and take longer to print.


2. Resolution

Resolution is the density of dots that make up the image when printing.

The bigger the resolution, the more detailed an image is, and the opposite is true.

The two leading acronyms used when dealing with resolution is DPI, which we have already looked into, and PPI. PPI refers to ‘pixels per inch’ and is the measure of the number of pixels per inch on your image.

Higher DPI and PPI mean higher resolution.



CYMK refers to the four inks used in some color printing namely; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (which stands for black).

CYMK is the standard color mode for sending documents such as newspapers, flyers, magazines, and reports to printers.

When a job is sent to the press for printing, cyan, magenta, yellow and black plates are made and aligned to print on paper.

One can add Pantone or other fifth colors that are created as separate plates.


4. Pantone

The Pantone solid color system has over 1100 unique numbered colors.

It was originally devised to help printers and graphic designers specify and have control over colors for print projects.

A commercial printer uses a specified mixing formula for each Pantone color to ensure accurate color matching.


5. Variable Printing

Variable data printing refers a special form of digital printing where the content printed on a document is determined by entries in a record or data set.

Such content can be highly personalized and is made of varied text, graphics, and images.

Layout, element positioning, and even document type are also other variables applicable in this form of printing.

Electrophotographic and ink jet printing modes are much more ideally suited for this kind of printing because each page is imaged individually.


6. Offset

Offset printing is a process of printing that utilizes traditional inks, either Pantone inks or the CMYK process to make an image.

It works by transferring or ‘offsetting’ an inked image from a plate to a rubber blanket and then to the printing surface.

The printing method allows for consistent quality over large print runs and also enables the printing plates to be used for a long time since they do not actually come into contact with the paper.

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