For the purposes of writing an academic paper, I need to briefly explain a certain visualization I've made. The visualization involves multiple types of arrows, including dashed arrows, dotted arrows, and solid arrows.

I would like to describe the general category of these different types. Thusfar, I've only been able to come up with the word "fillings". As in:

The arrows in the groups have the same colour, but they have different fillings (dashed, dotted, or solid).

Do you know whether the word fillings is appropriate in this context, and if not, what a good alternative would be?

  • Is "appearances" a possibility?
    – TimR
    Commented Jan 9 at 13:15
  • "Fill" has a specific meaning, so I'm going to nominate GD.SE for this question. Commented Jan 9 at 13:17
  • Why not use "types"? Commented Jan 9 at 14:05
  • A stroke maybe? Commented Jan 9 at 14:16
  • 2
    Maybe use the word "Style"?
    – AndrewH
    Commented Jan 9 at 14:31

3 Answers 3


They would be called Line Types and the types might be continuous thick/thin; dotted; dashed; long dashed short dashed

For more, google "technical drawing line type standards"



  1. line styles
  2. stroke styles
  3. line patterns
  4. line types
  5. marker types
  6. dash patterns
  7. visual distinction mechanisms

Graphic software doesn't have any universal classifying principle for arrows. There's no concept "arrow" which means the same in all common graphic software. Arrow is a cultural concept. Engineering drawings have the engineering domain specific set of arrows. Traffic signs have another set. Some arrows are not drawn, but used as weapons.

Different pieces of software allow different ways to draw arrows. But the used tools, methods and data types are mostly applicable for all drawings.

The only thing that can be strongly connected to arrows is the curve point marker style "arrowhead". They are needed so often that programs have a single click tool to add an arrowhead to an endpoint of the selected curve (including straight lines). That tool is often in the same dialog as one uses to select the stroke width, width variation profile and stroke style (solid, dashed, dotted or a customized pattern). An example:

enter image description here

As said above, one can select the line type (a.k.a. stroke type) from the same dialog. Examples:

enter image description here

But nothing prevents one to draw his own arrows. The program considers them only as curves with different fills and strokes. In the next image the same closed curve is shown with different strokes and fills. Fills can be solid colors, patterns, color gradients or there can be no fill at all.

enter image description here

In the next image in the left there's a simple manually drawn arrow which contains only three straight lines. There's no closed curves so there's no fill. The stroke is black solid.

enter image description here

In the right the manually drawn arrow is a closed curve with solid stroke and a custom fill pattern. The tiled pattern element is a simple arrow shown at the extreme right.

As you see, the possibilities are infinite. But describe the meanings of your arrow types in the legend box consistently and you are on the solid ground. You possibly can find good explanations differently for colors, line types and fill types, but that depends on your actual subject.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.