An area model, or a dot array model (same thing really) is one way of illustrating the algebraic completion of a square.

I have used dots as they are easier to create.

The quadratic is viewed initially as the “standard form”, and then rebuilt dynamically line by line into the “square plus a bit over” form, as shown in the following sequence:

The odd valued coefficient of x in the original expression can appear as a row and a column of half-dots, or half squares in the area model form.