See the wavy line at the bottom of this graphic?

enter image description here

I often see this visual technique used in software manuals and other material that contain screenshots. The technique cues that "there is more to this screen, but it has been omitted from the graphic for brevity or focus".

I am wondering if this wavy line crop technique has any standard names. I was once interested in Googling about it, but came up empty-handed.

  • I'm pretty sure I was taught in school it was a straight line then angle down then angle up past the horizontal then angle down to horizontal then continues. I don't know the name either though. I imagine it comes from torn paper.
    – Ryan
    Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 20:21
  • I don't think this is a 'design pattern' really. It's just a crop.
    – DA01
    Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 21:10
  • 2
    @Ryan that's the typical method for architectural and CAD drawings.
    – DA01
    Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 21:12
  • 2
    @DA01 couldn't remember if I learned it in College or HS but that makes sense. My degree is in architecture haha
    – Ryan
    Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 21:17
  • 2
    I imagine the style of “break line” used in each situation should contrast the rest of the design. For web design, a wave works well because nearly everything else is right angles. For electronics, the zig-zag works because you'd never see that in a legitimate circuit. Etc. One style I don't see in the answers below that can work well with highly-colored graphics is a “stepped stripe gradation” (somewhat like the AT&T logo). It's all about standing out from the design itself. Commented Jan 17, 2015 at 22:50

4 Answers 4


Its a break, and has many forms. It comes form the drafting standards. For example were you to draw a shaft it might be uninteresting to see the 1000 mm of similar shaft, so to conserve paper you can indicate that the line or shape has been broken into pieces.


Image 1: Variations on a theme the bottom right one needs a change to dimension line as well, very uncommon.

There are at least 3 others that i know of.

1 see http://cad.morainevalley.edu/documents/CADdeptStandards.pdf page II-9 for a specimen of shaft breaks

  • 2
    Unlike Ryan I'm a mechanical engineer so its more appropriate for me to draw machine elements, same visual form applies to buildings. Its a bit of a disappearing art amongst mechanical engineers tough as we are transitioning to full 3d drafting/modeling/manufacturing.
    – joojaa
    Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 22:03
  • 2
    Tbh I can understand your answer much better because the diagrams in Ryan's are very noisy.
    – Dom
    Commented Jan 18, 2015 at 12:27
  • Link to CADdeptStandards.pdf is dead and I can't find a replacement.
    – feetwet
    Commented 2 days ago

Looking it up from a CAD / Architecture perspective it can be found referred to as Break Point or Break Line.

The Alphabet of Lines (PDF) has it as Break Lines:

Note the jagged break line to indicate that this is only part of the object.

enter image description here

In technical drawings it is as I tried to describe in comments depicted like this via Lines (pdf) though they refer to it as Cut Line

enter image description here

One interesting image via Google Image search was this one which shows how different mediums take on different cut lines / break lines:

enter image description here

You can see pretty easily how a website might take on some sort of curved or angled end to then illustrate the same concept.

  • Damn beat me to it because i actually drew the image :)
    – joojaa
    Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 21:26

PowerPoint and Visio name for this shape

Perhaps this answer is too simplistic...?

  • Not at all! This is a welcome contribution.
    – MC256
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 12:31

It is used in flow-charting or process mapping and it indicates a reference document, visio, powerpoint MS word etc.

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