Glossary Of Terms

Generic term for a type of durable plastic commonly used in sign making. Noted for its excellent clarity, acrylic can also be manufactured in a wide range of transparent and opaque colors. Its ability to be easily machined, shaped and painted explains acrylic’s popularity. Plexiglas® and Acrylite® are well-known commercial brands of the material.
Legislation enacted by the U.S. federal government in 1991 with the goal of removing barriers that limit a disabled individual’s ability to engage in normal daily activity in the physical, public environment. Title III of the ADA deals with related signage and wayfinding issues.
Any and all logos, graphics and images used in creating a sign.
A sign where the sign face is illuminated from behind.
Banners are intended for high impact and a short life span. Flexible for easy installation and removal. There are the standard 13 oz banner as well as different types like, Tear Drop and Retractable also known as Roll up.
Standard 13oz banners come with grommets at every 24``
A type of projecting sign mounted such that the face of the sign is perpendicular to the normal flow of traffic.
In digital printing, the term refers to the portion of a printed image or graphic which extends beyond the intended borders of a sign. This excess portion is trimmed away.
A system of small raised dots that represent the alphabet, punctuation and numbers for the visually impaired. The ADA stipulates the use of Braille on signage in certain instances.
Small plastic or metal beads that can be placed in the face of a sign to create informational Braille text as required by the ADA.
A very strong and durable metal alloy made of copper and tin with traces of other metals such as zinc and nickel. It can be cast for the making of plaques, or fabricated from thin sheets into dimensional letters. Bronze can be finished in a variety of ways including being brushed, polished or oxidized.
A textured, non-reflective polished finish applied to metal by lightly brushing the surface with an abrasive material or briefly applying a mildly corrosive chemical.
Any metal sign that is made through a casting process. Aluminum and bronze are commonly used for cast metal signs such as plaques.
Abbreviation for the ink colors cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Combinations of these four colors of inks are used in printing to create all other colors.
A sign, typically a plaque, which commemorates a person, place or event.
A sign board created by gluing a corrugated piece of material to a flat piece of material, or between two flat pieces. Also known as corrugated plastic.
Vinyl cut or printed lettering and graphics that can be transferred onto another surface.
The clear and complete specifications for the appearance, structure and implementation of a sign. A design may include technical drawings, illustrations and written descriptions of the sign.
Any letter, logo or symbol that has a raised profile in relation to the sign substrate.
A sign providing information, either written or visual, that helps direct a person to a destination.
A sign that provides an organized list of names of people, offices or facilities located within a given building or area. Usually located at a public access point such as a building lobby, a directory sign may provide simple text listings or also include maps and other wayfinding information.
A sign having two faces mounted in opposite directions. Pole signs typically have back-to-back faces.
Any sign that contains and utilizes electrical components
Term used for any type of electronic programmable display.
A thin electrostatically charged material used for lettering and graphics on glass and other smooth surface (acrylic , mirrors , plates). The static charge enables the material to firmly adhere to the smooth surface, yet still be peeled off relatively easily.
Traditionally this type of sign was made with brass or aluminium. Today however we most frequently use a plastic substrate instead of the traditional materials.
This plastic substrate is a lamination of different layers of differently coloured material. When we engrave away the top laminate, we reveal the differently coloured laminate below.
Unlike in the past where signs were engraved manually, today engraved signs are made with a computer linked engraving machine.
A small metal or plastic ring that is inserted into a hole made in another piece of material. It prevents fraying of the material around the hole. (Also known as grommet)
A sign face made of a flexible material stretched over a supporting frame.
A set of letters and numerals sharing the same design characteristics. Examples of font sets include Helvetica and Arial.
A small metal or plastic ring that is inserted into a hole made in another piece of material. It prevents fraying of the material around the hole. (Also known as grommet)
A halftone printing process that uses the four essential ink colors of cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) to create a full range of colors on a printed surface.
A unit of measurement for the thickness of sheet metal or wires. The lower the gauge number the greater the thickness.
The smooth transition from one color to another color, from black to white, or from color to the absence of color.
A glowing ring of light surrounding an object such as a channel letter which has been lit from behind.
A double-faced sign mounted to a wall or pole and hung from a bracket or support arm.
The amount of light falling on a surface expressed in lumens.
A small freestanding structure typically used in trade shows
The process of adding a protective coating over a layer of material by means of pressure.
The overall arrangement of the graphics and lettering on the face of a sign.
LEXAN® is a polycarbonate product.
Registered trademark for SABIC Innovative Plastics
A self enclosed sign, typically square or rectangular that houses an internal light system for illumination of the sign face.
A visually distinctive name or symbol that identifies a business, product or service.
A measurement of light output. One lumen equals the amount of light falling on a one square foot area located one foot away from a single candle.
The intensity of a light emitted by a source as measured in a given direction. Luminance is a measure of the amount of light only.
A layer of magnetic material laminated to a flexible surface material such as vinyl that can be printed with lettering and graphics. Magnetic sheeting is commonly used for temporary signage that can be placed on the side of vehicles or other metal surfaces.
Masonite is created from wood chips that have been treated and pressed into strong durable boards suitable for use as a substrate for signs.
A point-of-purchase sign that provides a list of products and prices. It is a type of sign commonly seen in fast service restaurants, or coffee shops, where it is used to display the menu.
A fabric material having a loose or open weave.
A letter created by heating a sheet of acrylic or plastic until it is pliable and then shaping it into the desired form using a mold of the letter. After the plastic cools, it retains the molded shape and any excess material is trimmed away.
A wall surface that has been decorated with a direct application of printed graphics.
A small wall-mounted or freestanding sign made of plastic or metal that states the name, occupation and/or title of the occupant of an office, desk or building.
A channel letter where the face of a letter is open, such that the neon tubing is visible.
A sign that is affixed to a building or structure in such a manner as to give it the support necessary to resist environmental loads over time.
A symbol used to represent an object or concept. Commonly found in ADA signage. An example of a pictogram would be the wheelchair symbol seen on some signs, the presence of which indicates a handicap accessible location.
A generic term for a wide range of synthetic materials which consists of long chains of polymers that are moldable and soften when heated. Many plastics used in the sign industry are of the thermoplastic variety, which means they can melt and solidify repeatedly.
Often used as a generic term for acrylic.
It is a brand or acrylic sheeting.
A standardized color scheme used in the printing industry to ensure the consistency of color from design to final print.
A letter or graphic which is cut out, then pushed through a corresponding space that has been removed from a sign substrate. The push-through is typically different color and/or material than the rest of the sign. Typically used with an opaque sign cabinet and internal lighting. Most pushed-through letters are flush with or project slightly from the front of the sign face.
A specific thermoset plastic which is weather and chemical resistant, available extruded into many forms or cast as sheets in a variety of colors and thicknesses.
In digital images, the number of pixels shown on a screen; the higher the number of pixels in a given space, the more precise the pictured image.
A channel letter that has a face and sides but no back, and is pinned out from a background surface. When the neon tube inside the letter is illuminated, it produces a halo effect around the letter.
A moveable sign not secured or attached to the ground or surface. Also known as A-Frame.
Any device, structure or display which made to attract the attention of the public for the purposes of advertising, identifying or communicating information about goods and services.
A brand of specialized polymer foam cell products designed for three-dimensional signage applications, available in different densities and strengths. This open cell foam machines easily and holds shape well.
Any device used in mounting letters or signs that separates them from the surface to which they are being installed. A spacer allows letters to be pinned out.
A hard plastic blade used to apply pressure to increase surface adhesion between cutting vinyl and the transfer tape or between the vinyl and sign face.
A thin sheet of material or adhesive vinyl into which a design is cut. When a stencil is placed on another substrate and paint is applied, the image represented by the cut-out portion of the stencil is printed on the substrate below it.
A sign, or an area within a larger sign or area, that conveys its message through raised or engraved artwork, making it accessible to the visually impaired.
A full-sized pattern, layout or computerized output showing the exact size and placement of letters. Typically used for installing dimensional letters, signs, or architectural elements.
A medium-tack adhesive coated on translucent paper. Transfer tape is placed on vinyl images still on the original carrier liner; the tack of the tape is stronger than the adhesion of the vinyl to the coated liner, so the image is pulled off the liner in a transfer to another surface.
The property of a material such as vinyl, that allows the passage of some light through it without being transparent. Internally illuminated signs rely on translucent vinyls.
Letters cut from adhesive-backed material, in dozens of opaque, translucent, metallic and transparent colors and patterns.
As the sign making industry evolved the traditional painted lettering on windows was replaced by cut out self adhesive vinyl lettering and shapes.
Today cut out vinyl signs or lettering are being replaced or enhanced by full color digital printing.