A collection of terms, symbols, and key phrases for ASCII art enthusiasts.
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Welcome to our

ASCII Art Glossary

. This is where you can find out what different ASCII Art terms mean. We cover everything from basic patterns to more complex designs. Over time, we'll add more terms. If you don't see a word or phrase you know, send us an email. We'd love to hear from you and might add your suggestion to our list.
  • AAlib

    A software library that allows for the conversion of images and video into ASCII art. By processing visual data, AAlib transforms it into a representation using ASCII characters, enabling graphics and video playback in environments that only support text. It's a popular tool for developers and hobbyists interested in creating ASCII-based visual content.
  • ANSI art

    A form of computer graphics composed of text and special ANSI escape sequences. This art style uses characters, colors, and cursor movements available within the ANSI standard. Popular in the early computer bulletin board systems, ANSI art adds color and design elements beyond typical ASCII art.

    An acronym for the American Standard Code for Information Interchange. It's a character encoding standard used for representing text and control characters in computers. ASCII art refers to images created without using traditional image editing software, but rather by arranging ASCII characters in a grid to form recognizable patterns or images.
  • ASCII Art Toolkit

    A collection of specialized software and utilities designed to help individuals create, convert, and experiment with ASCII art. This toolkit encompasses various functionalities, from image and text conversions to real-time webcam interpretations and dedicated drawing studios for ASCII enthusiasts.
  • ASCII Artists

    Individuals who create artwork using the characters defined in the ASCII standard. Relying on the arrangement of various printable ASCII characters, these artists craft images, designs, and patterns that can be displayed on computer screens or other digital platforms. The art form gained popularity in early computing days, especially on BBS systems and Usenet, and many ASCII artists have left a lasting impact on digital art culture.
    Read more at ASCII Art Artists
  • ASCII Table

    A reference chart that displays the character set of the ASCII standard. It lists each character's numeric code, often in both decimal and hexadecimal formats, alongside its corresponding graphical representation. The table helps in identifying the numerical code for each character, aiding in encoding and decoding processes.
  • A long strip of material or an image bearing a slogan or design, used to represent or publicize something. In digital terms, a banner refers to a graphic or text advertisement displayed on a webpage or within software. In the context of ASCII art, a banner is a horizontal arrangement of characters, often used for titles, announcements, or decorative purposes.
  • BBS

    An acronym for Bulletin Board System. A BBS is an early form of online community where users could connect, usually via phone lines, to download software, read news, and participate in message boards. These systems were prevalent before the rise of the modern internet, and many featured ASCII or ANSI art in their interfaces or as signature designs for user identities.
  • Block art

    A form of visual art that uses distinct blocks or sections, often of uniform size, to create images, designs, or patterns. In a digital context, block art might refer to artwork made of large pixels or characters, reminiscent of early computer graphics. The emphasis is on the combination and arrangement of these blocks to convey the desired visual effect.
  • Character

    A single visual symbol or mark used in writing or printing. In computing, it can represent a letter, number, punctuation mark, or any other symbol included in a character set. Characters are the basic building blocks of text and play a pivotal role in ASCII art, where specific characters are chosen for their visual appearance.
  • Courier

    A widely-used monospace typeface, where each character occupies the same horizontal space. Designed in the 1950s for IBM's typewriters, it has since become a standard font in many computing contexts. Due to its clear, evenly spaced characters, Courier is frequently used in programming, screenwriting, and for displaying ASCII art, ensuring consistent alignment and readability.
  • Emoticon

    A representation of a facial expression using keyboard characters, often used in digital communication to convey emotion or tone. Examples include :) for a smile and :( for a frown. Emoticons are predecessors to the more graphically detailed emojis.
  • Figlet

    A computer program that generates text banners in various typefaces composed of letters made up of conglomerations of smaller ASCII characters. Originating from the early days of computer systems, Figlet allows users to produce visually impressive text for headers, banners, and more.
  • Generator

    In the context of ASCII art, a generator refers to software or online tools that convert standard images or text into an ASCII art representation. By processing input, these tools output patterns of ASCII characters that visually approximate the original content.
  • Glyph

    A visual representation of a character or a part of a character in writing or printing. It can refer to a specific design or style of a letter, number, punctuation mark, or any symbol within a font or typeface. For example, while "A" is a character, the way "A" looks in different fonts represents different glyphs.
  • High ASCII

    Refers to the extended set of ASCII characters that are represented by values from 128 to 255. These characters include various special symbols, diacritics, and non-standard letters not found in the basic ASCII set. High ASCII was especially used in early computing and BBS scenes, often for creating more detailed or stylized ASCII art by leveraging these additional characters.
  • Joan Stark

    Often known by her online pseudonym "jgs," is a prominent ASCII artist recognized for her contributions to the art form, especially in the 1990s and early 2000s. She created a wide variety of ASCII art pieces, ranging from simple designs to intricate illustrations, and her work has been shared and appreciated on numerous online platforms and forums. Joan Stark's signature, "jgs," is often found at the bottom of her works, signifying her unique style in the ASCII art community.
    Read more at ASCII Art Artists
  • Kaomoji

    A popular style of emoticon originating from Japan, kaomoji (literally "face characters") use a combination of keyboard characters and punctuation to create expressive faces. Unlike traditional Western emoticons that are read sideways, like ":)", kaomoji are read upright, such as "٩(◕‿◕。)۶". They often encompass a wide range of emotions and actions, making them diverse in expression.
  • Line art

    A style of drawing that uses straight or curved lines, without gradations in shade or hue, to represent objects or designs. It emphasizes form and outline over color, shading, or texture. In digital contexts, line art is often used as a base for coloring or further detailing, and in ASCII art, characters can be used to create line-based representations.
  • Monospace

    A style of font where each character occupies the same amount of horizontal space. Common in typewriters and code editors, monospace fonts ensure consistent alignment, making them ideal for ASCII art creations.
  • NFO

    A file with the ".nfo" extension, commonly associated with "info" or "information". Traditionally, NFO files accompanied software releases, especially in underground scenes, to provide details about the software, credits, and instructions. These files often feature elaborate ASCII art designs and are viewed using specialized viewers or simple text editors to maintain their visual structure.
  • Outline

    A line or set of lines enclosing or indicating the shape of an object, design, or text. In art and design, an outline often provides the basic form or structure, without detailed fill or shading. In writing, it refers to a plan or summary that lays out the main points or structure of a document or presentation.
  • Pattern

    A repeated or regular arrangement of elements, often forming a design or sequence. In ASCII art, patterns are made by positioning characters in specific layouts to create recognizable images or designs, leveraging the visual weight and shape of different ASCII characters.
  • Pixel

    The smallest individual unit or dot of a digital image or display. Pixels can represent a specific color or intensity. When viewed together in large numbers, they form an image that is discernible to the human eye. In digital art, the arrangement and color of pixels are manipulated to create visuals, while in ASCII art, characters play a similar role to represent imagery.
  • Pre tag

    An HTML tag used to display preformatted text. Content inside a <pre> tag is shown in a fixed-width font (usually monospace) and whitespace, like spaces and new lines, is preserved. It's commonly used for displaying code snippets, ASCII art, or any text where maintaining the exact spacing and line breaks is crucial.
  • Artistic creations made using printing techniques, such as lithography, woodcut, or screen printing. The art is transferred from a template or matrix onto a surface, like paper or fabric. In a digital context, "print art" can also refer to designs and images specifically created for printing purposes, ensuring clarity and quality in the printed result.
  • Printable ASCII characters

    A subset of the ASCII standard that comprises characters which are visually representable when displayed. These range from values 32 to 126 in the ASCII table and include letters (both uppercase and lowercase), numbers, punctuation marks, and various symbols. Excluding control characters that serve functional purposes, printable ASCII characters are the ones commonly used in text, coding, and ASCII art.
  • Retro

    Referring to or imitating styles, trends, or designs from the recent past, typically from the mid-20th century. In a digital context, "retro" often describes software, graphics, or interfaces reminiscent of earlier computer eras, capturing a sense of nostalgia. ASCII and ANSI art are sometimes seen as retro art forms, harking back to early computing aesthetics.
  • Signature

    A distinctive mark, characteristic, or sound indicating identity. In digital contexts, a "signature" often refers to a unique sequence of characters or design, especially at the end of emails or forum posts, that denotes a specific user or provides additional information about them. In ASCII art, signatures may be stylized representations of a user's name or alias.
  • Signature block

    A predefined section at the end of an email or electronic message that contains the sender's details, often including their name, contact information, and other pertinent details. In online communities, especially in BBS and forums, signature blocks often contain personalized ASCII or ANSI art, quotes, or other identifiers unique to the user.
  • Solid art

    A style of digital art, including ASCII and ANSI creations, where designs or images are made using continuous blocks of characters or colors, without breaks or spaces. This technique gives the artwork a "solid" appearance, with dense and filled-in visuals, as opposed to designs that rely heavily on outlines or sparse character placements.
  • Terminal

    A hardware device or software interface used to enter commands and receive outputs from a computer system. Originally, terminals were physical devices connected to mainframes, but modern terminals are typically software-based, like command-line interfaces or shell windows on personal computers. They often display text in monospace fonts, suitable for ASCII and ANSI art.
  • Typewriter

    A mechanical or electromechanical device used for writing text by pressing keys that correspond to characters. Each key strike imprints a character onto paper. Popular before the widespread use of computers, typewriters produce text in a monospace font, where each character takes up the same width.
  • Typewriter Art

    Artistic creations made using typewriters by positioning letters, numbers, and symbols in patterns to form images or designs. Since typewriters use monospace fonts, each character occupies the same amount of space, enabling the artist to achieve precise alignments. This form of art can be seen as a precursor to ASCII art, with both relying on character placement for visual representation.
  • Unicode

    A computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation, and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems. Unlike ASCII, which uses 7 bits for representation and is limited to 128 characters, Unicode can represent a vast array of characters from various languages, symbols, and ancient scripts, making it more versatile for global communication and documentation.
  • Usenet

    An early Internet system that enabled users to post and read messages in categories called newsgroups. Established in 1980, it was a precursor to modern forums and bulletin boards. Users exchanged text messages, and over time, binaries (like images or software). ASCII art, among other forms of digital expression, often found its way onto Usenet, becoming a part of the platform's rich culture.