Developing a working vocabulary is critical for communications professionals.  This is a challenging process because in addition to a broad general vocabulary, each specialty has its unique set of terminology.  As the communications industry is technology rich, within each area of specialization, the ever changing software and hardware practices bring about the need to continually update both conceptual understandings and terminology through which these ideas are disseminated.   

Listed below is a short sample of only some of the critical vocabulary used in page design and layout.  It should be noted that this list is far from comprehensive, and applies mostly to only the subset of work done in a desktop publishing setting.  The current Communication Technologies class glossary contains over 600 terms.

The list is presented in the format of a triple entry vocabulary journal, which is a strategic method though which to support rapid, precise vocabulary acquisition.  The elements of presenting words in context, requiring students to define terminology in their own words and the connection of terms to either mnemonic or visual devices combines multiple opportunities through which to build connection with the words.

Page Layout Words

Word in Context


Memory Aid

A narrow alley will save space, but may make columns run together

space between columns on a page

A bleed usually requires pages to be trimmed to size after printing

To bleed means to extend outside the normal trim area of a book's page. A bleed is a bar, illustration, rule or other element that extends outside the trim area. Such elements have ink that is visible on the edge of the page in the bound book.

Ink bleeding off the page

Block quotes should be indented left and right

Quoted passage set off from the main text (usually indented) without quotation marks. Also called extract.

Captions can be set in boxes with or without stroke

Title of an illustration; may also refer to all text that accompanies a piece of art.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it would benefit from just a few in a caption.

Adding a column rule can assist a narrow alley layout

thin line between columns to make them easier to read

Copy should be edited and proofed before layout.

written content

“It’s better to place copy than to copy/paste copy”

Careful cropping allows the most important parts of an image to be viewable

Cropping is the removal or cutting out of part of an image.

Most copy is set flush left

Positioned at the margin (either left or right) of the text page.

Flush it straight down

Page numbers are often found in a footer.

A footer is a running head that repeats a line of type at the bottom of a page. It typically repeats the chapter or title of the book.

Filling a layout with Greek text allows a designer to predict how the actual copy will look

(Ipsum lorum) illegible text used as filler when designing layouts

It’s Greek to me, but it looks good!

Bound publications may require wider gutters.

The space or margin between facing pages. The gutter is the point at which the paper of a bound book begins to curve sharply toward the center.

Hanging indents can be used to draw attention to the first word of a paragraph

text with a flush left first line, and indented following lines

Often document and section titles are set in the  header

The header is a margin at the top of page that spotlights a title or message.

When you fully justify copy, tracking can be an issue

Type set so that the margin is aligned.  Book pages are generally justified left and right. Other documents are often justified only at the left (called ragged right).

Justified is just fine on both sides

Keylines are replaced by art during the layout process.

A keyline is a shape, usually a box, used as a placeholder for photographs, drawings, art, etc.

With the exception of children’s books, few books are laid out  landscape

a page that is positioned horizontally with the long edge at the top

Margins and indents are not the same thing!

Margins are areas outside of the designated printed area.

Instructions often use a ordered list

Vertical list in which each item is introduced by a numeral or letter.

You can usually change an ordered list to bullets, but not so the other way!

Orphans make a page look sloppy

The first line of a paragraph that appears alone at the bottom of a page. Compare to widow.

'orphans have a future but no past, while widows have a past but no future'

Most business forms are set in a portrait layout

a page that is positioned vertically with the short edge at the top

Most student papers are ragged right, but many published works are not

Text aligned at the left margin but not the right.

The ragged side is the rough side

Margins for a document may be mirrored from recto to verso.

right hand page of the book (see also verso).

Recto Right, verso not so

Addition of a rule can help establish visual heirarchy

A vertical or horizontal line on a page.

Add a rule with a ruler

Sidebars are often used for tables of contents or pull quotes

information placed in a box next to the main article to emphasize points or add additional information

Even when using a grid for positioning, it can be important to look at the sink of graphics.

Distance from the top of a printed page to an element on that page.

It is important to consider the look of both the page and the spread in which it is found

A spread refers to the left and right pages of an open book.

Books spread out

Margins for a document may be mirrored from recto to verso.

 Left hand page of the book.

Recto Right, verso not so

White space is as important as content in a page layout.

space on a page with no image or text

Widows interfere with the read of paragraphs

last line of a paragraph that appears by itself at the top of the next page or column--differentiate from 'orphan' by remembering the phrase: 'orphans have a future but no past, while widows have a past but no future'

'orphans have a future but no past, while widows have a past but no future'

When using a wraparound, the justification of the copy is very important

text that wraps around an embedded graphic or photograph

Example rendering for wrap-type: around




Reading - Motivation - Writing - Presentations - Problem Solving - Vocabulary - Research - Strategies - Videos - Lesson Plan - Unit Plan - About the Author - About this Site - References