Skip to main content

Sequential Arts

Research Guide for Sequential Arts


Definition of terms:


  • panel: One segment of the story or action; the individual box or frame.

  • gutter: The space between panels.

  • tier: One row of panels.

  • splash page: One page that consists entirely of one illustration.

  • spread: An image that spreads across multiple pages (a two-page spread is most common).


  • speech balloon: Contains a characters spoken dialogue with a pointer or tail to indicate the speaker.

  • thought bubble: Shows a character's unvoiced thoughts in a cloud shape, using bubbles as an indicator.

  • caption: A rectangular box which provides a narration, sometimes used for dialog when the character speaking is not pictured in the panel.

  • sound effects: Or onomatopoeia are words that mimic sound like "Pow!" or "Buzz."

Decker Library at the Maryland Institute College of Art | Location: 1401 W. Mount Royal Ave., Baltimore, MD 21217 | Mailing: 1300 W. Mount Royal Ave., Baltimore, MD 21217

Research Help: 410-225-2273 / | General Questions: 410-225-2272 /

Like Us On Facebook Follow Us on Instagram Sign Up For Our Newsletter Follow Our tumblr Follow Us On Twitter