Words to Design By

Posted March 4, 2015, under Vocabularama

As you may have noticed, the Lunch Meat has departments — you can see them at right. Clicking on those links will give you listings for Lunch Meat entries just for those departments. If you do that, you might notice that while the other departments get regular love, it’s been a while since Vocabularama has had its day in the spotlight. We’re going to make up for that this month.

Some Design and Layout Terms


The margins—top, bottom, left, right—is the space between the “live area” (primary text and graphics) of the page and the trim (where the page is cut), or window limit on computers. Sometimes headers, footers, page numbers, copyrights, etc., are placed within the margins.

Alley & Gutter

Actually not a bad metaphor.

Alley describes the empty space between columns of text, or text and another design element. This space is used to help keep the reader’s eye from jumping over to the next column.

The inside margins or blank space between two facing pages are the gutter. This extra space allowance is used to accommodate the binding in books and magazines.


Not just a word for undesirable men or awesome Radiohead songs; in the print world, creep is what happens when you have a thick publication that’s stapled in the middle and folded. The outside pages are actually larger because they have to sandwich the inner ones. We have to adjust for this to ensure that your readers aren’t distracted by inconsistent margins or other problems.


Many designs are built on the framework of a grid. This includes margins, columns, gutters, etc., and allows designers to arrange design elements (such as images and text) in a way that’s rational, clean, and easily absorbed.

“Going off the grid” means something very different in the design world.

Snipes & Violators

When designers do violate the grid, they use snipes or violators.

You may know the term “snipe” from “snipe hunt,” which we all know as a prank, making someone search for something nonexistent. That’s very appropriate from a design perspective: these are best used sparingly, because their effectiveness comes from the way they act as a break from the expected.

Also, it’s surprising how many design terms were used as album titles.

Rigney Graphics is a Pasadena graphic arts company that can help you create an impact with design and marketing solutions for print and web.