Glossary of Design Terms

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packaging

The science, art and technology of enclosing or protecting products for distribution, storage, sale and use. Packaging also refers to the process of design, evaluation and production of packages. As a division of the overall marketing cycle, packaging distinguishes from promotion in being the actual product and its packaging as opposed to those items which are strictly promotional. However, packaging is promotional and serves the same purpose of creating want and selling the product.

pad-binding

Also called glue-binding. This refers to a form of binding where glue is applied to the top (or side) of a pad of paper, effectively adhering them together. Because there is no cover holding the pad together, individual pages can be torn out easily and cleanly. This is the kind of binding used for writing pads where it is intended that pages are torn out. While machines exist that are designed for this kind of binding, a perfect-binding machine can commonly do this by simply not applying a cover after the spine has been glued.

Pantone Matching System (PMS)

A proprietary color space used in a variety of industries, primarily printing, though sometimes in the manufacture of colored paint, fabric and plastics. The idea behind PMS is to allow designers to “color match” specific colors when a design enters production stage—regardless of the equipment used to produce the color. This system has been widely adopted by graphic designers and reproduction and printing houses for a number of years. PMS colors are almost always used in branding and have more recently found their way into government legislation to describe the colors of flags.

PDF

Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format created by Adobe Systems in 1993 for document exchange. PDF is used for representing two-dimensional documents in a manner independent of the application software, hardware and operating system. Each file includes the text, images and vector graphics which compose the document. Because of this, they are more and more becoming the standard for press ready files going to a printer.

perceptual

This is a rendering intent which aims to preserve the visual relationship between colors so it’s perceived as natural to the human eye, even though the color values themselves may change. This intent is suitable for photographic images with lots of out-of-gamut colors.

perfect binding

A relatively inexpensive method of binding in which the pages are held together and fixed to the cover by means of flexible adhesive. Widely used for paperbacks, manuals, textbooks and telephone books.

perspective

In the graphic arts, such as drawing, perspective is an approximate representation, on a flat surface, (such as paper or computer monitor), of an image as it is seen by the eye. The two most characteristic features of perspective are that objects are drawn: 1) smaller as their distance from the observer increase, 2) foreshortened—the size of an object’s dimensions along the line of sight are relatively shorter than dimensions across the line of sight. There are eight common types of depth perspective, covered individually in this glossary.

Photoshop

Full name Adobe Photoshop. An image editing program developed and distributed by Adobe Systems. It is the leading bitmap editing program and used to correct, composite and create still images for print and web design.

pica

A typographic unit of measurement equal to 0.16666667″. There are 12 points to a pica and 6 picas to an inch. While points are used to measure the size of type (see more under point), picas are used to measure the length of a line.

pixel

A shortening of picture (shortened in Hollywood parlance to “pix”) and element. A pixel is a single point in a raster or bitmap image and thus the smallest adjustable point of an image. An image, such as a digital photograph, is made up of thousands of individual pixels, each one a different color. As this grid of squares becomes smaller, the image becomes clearer and sharper. Thus an image that has 300 pixels per inch is much sharper than an image that has only 72 pixels per inch.

point

The smallest typographical unit of measure, introduced in the mid 18th century by the French typographer Pierre Simon Fournier. The system divides one inch into 72 parts, each one a “point”—mathematically, one point should equal 0.013889″ but it actually equals 0.013837″, with the result that 72 points equals only 0.996264″. The introduction of the computer as a design tool established a new international standard of measurement based on this system. However, on the computer one point measures 0.013889″ and 72 points equal exactly one inch—referred to as PostScript, whereas the original point system is referred to as Traditional—a setting which some typesetting programs allow you to change. It is because of this that computer monitors have a standard resolution of 72dpi. There are 12 points to a pica, 6 picas to an inch. Type is measured in terms of points, the standard sizes being 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 18, 24, 30, 36, 42, 48, 60, 72. Whereas these used to be the only sizes of metal type available, computers now allow setting type at any size, including incremental sizes, such as 7.5pt. However, most typesetting programs still retain the above sizes as the defaults. Measurement of type is done baseline to baseline, thus different fonts at the same point size may appear to be different sizes visually.

polypropylene

This is a plastic widely used in packaging, textiles, stationery, plastic parts and reusable containers of various types, laboratory equipment, etc. It is rugged and usually resistant to many chemical solvents, bases and acids. Since polypropylene is resistant to fatigue, most plastic living hinges, such as those on flip-top bottles, are made from this material.

positioning

This means putting a subject (like shaving cream) into a relative position with other products. Positioning takes advantage of a fact that one can compare the thing he is trying to get the other person to understand with desirable or undesirable objects. Desirable objects are now more commonly used in advertising. Undesirable objects are more commonly used in propaganda. By comparing this unfamiliar thing or the thing he wants to sell to another desirable object or by comparing something he wants people to detest to an undesirable thing, he can achieve a rapid communication and comparison.

PPI

A term meaning Pixels Per Inch. It represents the total number of pixels in the horizontal and vertical directions. This term is often used interchangeably with Dots Per Inch (DPI) although PPI is more accurately used for monitors while DPI is used for printers. Monitors display at a resolution of 72 pixels per inch, thus this is the standard PPI used for all internet and video images. Photographs and color images are usually set to 300 PPI as this is the resolution needed for quality print output. As a note, prior to the advent of digital laser presses, the resolution of images to be printed on a sheet-fed or web press needed to be 254 PPI. The relationship between DPI and PPI is further covered under DPI.

press proof

A proof (print) pulled from the actual production press.

product design

The idea generation, concept development, testing and manufacturing or implementation of a physical object or service. The term is sometimes confused with industrial design, which defines the broader field of which product design is a part.

Profile Connection Space (PCS)

This is the “common color language” of profiles, normally CIELAB (which is a color model, similar to RGB or CMYK, but much larger and encompassing all colors which can be perceived by the human eye).

promotion

To make something well known and well thought of. Promotion is the art of offering what will be responded to. It consists only of what to offer and how to offer it that will be responded to.

proof

1. A printout of a job taken at various stages from laser printers, imagesetters, inked plates, screens, etc., in order to check the progress and accuracy of the work. 2. A proof or color proof can also refer to a color printout on a color managed printer that is used by the printer for matching.

prototype

An original type, form or instance of something serving as a typical example, basis or standard for other things of the same category. In design, various forms of prototype serve different purposes: A proof-of-principle prototype is used to test some aspect of the intended design, a form prototype shows the basic size, look and feel of a product without simulating function, a visual prototype simply shoes aesthetics of the package and a functional prototype shows how a product or package will work but may not have final graphics. In our use, a final prototype is a functional and visual representation of what the final package will be.

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