What do you call a system of what visual items mean? Visual items include symbols but also line thickness, color, etc. It could be used for either production or consumption of a designed piece.

For example, you are designing a book and you want a consistent use of typefaces and lines throughout the book. A certain font always means an explanation, another means citation; a certain line always means movement, another means causation. This is standard practice but I can't think of the word.

The word could refer to a physical rulebook of sorts, or just to the visual system even if its never written out anywhere.

"I developed a ____ for the website so that all the designers would make a consistent product and so that readers would easily understand what everything means."


  • Visual style guide works a) I believe a better word exists that I am forgetting and b) it seems to refer more to a rule book than to a system.
  • Visual system is too vague.
  • Visual nomenclature is perhaps the closest by way of analogy. Is there anything that wouldn't require visual in front? Also, nomenclature might not make sufficient reference to an internal logic.
  • For web development, it could be a style sheet or a style guide. Feb 25, 2017 at 1:01

2 Answers 2


"Presentation schema" has the intended meaning. While that does sound technical, it seems this article is intended for people with some knowledge of software design.

I developed a uniform presentation schema for the website such that all designers would make a consistent product and all readers would intuitively understand the meaning of each page."


Perhaps Brand Guidelines is what you are thinking of:

Brand Guidelines

  • Essentially a set of rules that explain how your brand works. (also commonly referred to as “brand standards”, “style guide” or “brand book”)

These guidelines typically include basic information such as:

  1. An overview of your brand’s history, vision, personality and key values.
  2. Brand message or mission statement – including examples of ‘tone of voice’.
  3. Logo usage – where and how to use your logo including minimum sizes, spacing and what not to do with it.
  4. Colour palette – showing your primary and secondary colour palettes with colour breakdowns for print, screen and web.
  5. Type style – showing the specific font that you use and details of the font family and default fonts for web use.
  6. Image style/photography – examples of image style and photographs that work with the brand.
  7. Business card and letterhead design – examples of how the logo and font are used for standard company literature.


  • This is spot on when in the context of business and for a brand-scale system. Is there a more universal term? For example, if you are working on an art display branding seems the wrong lexicon; or, in a book, while you could argue each book has it's brand, I would expect that people hearing "brand identity" would think it means a consistent system for all of the authors/publishers/series books. Thanks!
    – Unrelated
    Feb 24, 2017 at 21:24
  • In the context of an individual work, I would probably say your initial "Visual style guideline" or "Design style guideline" would have to be used.
    – Hank
    Feb 24, 2017 at 21:25

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