What is a correct term for images that are to act as containers for other content, e.g. for holding text or cropping images?

Common examples of these content-holding images are badges, thought bubbles, stickers, flags, ribbons, starbursts, etc. Here's a couple of examples of more interesting [whatever these are called]:

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So we're talking about simple images, typically solid colour / silhouette that are used to contain text or crop/clip photos.

Imagine an organisation had created a library of [whatever these are called] to give commonality to their graphics. What would you call it?

They're not typical illustrations because their role is purely to support another item of content. They're a bit icongraphic in that they represent something in a simple way, but they're not typical icons. I'm sure there's an obvious term I can't think of that is better than "content-holding images"...

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  • Text containing shapes. You don´t mean a sign or signet?
    – Jannik Ruf
    Commented Jul 25, 2012 at 10:50
  • @JannikRuf Not really... Calling the images in my example "signs" would seem a bit strange, signs usually mark or indicate a separate nearby thing or rule. But people do often use the outlines of distinctive types of sign (e.g. road signs) as [whatever these things are called] Commented Jul 25, 2012 at 10:54
  • 1
    or maybe it´s just what you think it means because we learned it that way :) If I´ve learned one thing in design school then it´s that nothing is at it seems :D not literally of course. Anyway I can´t find a proper description for these things, maybe I´ll find something in my old school-documents! Now you´ve got me interested in what they´re called :)
    – Jannik Ruf
    Commented Jul 25, 2012 at 11:13
  • 2
    I don't think there is any one term for this. Some terms that could work: cut-outs, silhouettes, reversed, bugs, badges, borders, blocks, lock-ups, masks, Saul-Bass-esque, etc.
    – DA01
    Commented Jul 25, 2012 at 15:39

2 Answers 2


There is no "industry standard" term for these. You could call them "containers" or "shape primitives" or "shape frames" -- anything that's descriptive will do for your hypothetical company, because it will be an in-house term that everyone will quickly become familiar with. You could even call them "balloons," since at least some of them are balloon shaped. People will catch on.

  • Seems the way to go. I'm christening this set "Bubble icons", will see if it catches on... Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 11:24

It's an inner text wrap.

"Inner Text Wrap" as Opposed to "Outer Text Wrap". Outer text wraps are far more common, but they are both text wraps. The actual shape being wrapped doesn't have a specific name as far as I'm aware. "Container" is sometimes used for an inner text wrap, but I don't believe that's in any way standard terminology.

  • +1 I'm trying to clarify the difference between inner and outer text wraps - googling both in quotes comes up with nothing (not even this page!). Do you know any examples or links? Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 11:53

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