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 made in a wide range of transparent and opaque colors. Its ability to be easily machined, and painted into shape, explains the popularity of this product. Plexiglas® and Acrylite® are well-known brands.


The process of adding a protective coating to a sign or print by means of pressure.

ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)

Legislation passed by the US federal government in 1991 with the goal of removing barriers that limit a person with a disability's ability to engage in normal daily activity in the physical, public environment.


The general arrangement of graphics and lettering on your sign.


All graphics, logos and images used in the creation of a sign.


LEXAN® is a flame retardant polycarbonate material. Trademark registered by SABIC Innovative Plastics.

Backlit Sign

A sign for which the face of the sign is illuminated from behind.

Light Box

A closed box, usually square or rectangular, which houses an internal lighting system to illuminate the face of the panel.


Banners are meant to have a high impact and a short lifespan. Flexible for easy installation and deinstallation. Other common banner types are , tear drop and retractable also known as roll up. A standard, 13oz banner comes with grommets every 24''


A visually distinctive name or symbol that identifies a business, product or service.

Double-sided sign

A type of sign mounted so that the face of the sign is perpendicular to the normal flow of traffic.


A unit of measurement of luminous flux in physics.


In digital printing, the term refers to the part of a printed or graphic image that extends beyond the intended boundaries of a sign. This excess part is cut off.


Luminosity refers to the characteristic of what emits or reflects light.


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 sign, in certain instances.

Magnetic Sign

A magnetic material that can be printed with characters and graphics. This type of sign is commonly used for temporary signage that can be placed on the side of vehicles or other metal surfaces.

Braille Beads

Small plastic or metal beads that can be placed in the face of a sign to create Braille text as required by the ADA.


Masonite is created from wood chips that have been processed and pressed into strong durable boards.


A very strong and resistant alloy, made partly of copper and tin with traces of metals such as zinc and nickel. It can be cast for plate making, or made from thin sheets into three-dimensional letters. Bronze can be finished in a variety of ways such as brushed, polished or oxidized.

Table Menu

Display board of products and their prices. Typically found in 'fast food' restaurants and cafes.

Brushed Finish

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.

Mesh Banner

A fabric material having an open weave.

Cast Metal Sign

Any metal sign that is made through a casting process. Aluminum and bronze are commonly used for cast metal signs such as plates.

Letter Molded

A letter created by heating a sheet of acrylic or plastic until it is flexible and bent into the desired shape using a letter mould. After the plastic cools, it retains the molded shape and any excess material is trimmed away.


Abbreviation for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink colors. Combinations of these four ink colors are used in printing to create all other colors.


A wall surface that has been decorated with a direct application of printed graphics.

Commemorative Plaque

A sign, usually a plaque, which commemorates a person, place or event.


A plastic or metal wall or freestanding sign that indicates the name, occupation and/or title of the occupant of an office, or building.


A panel created by bonding a corrugated piece of material to a flat piece, or between two flat pieces. Also known as corrugated plastic.

Channel Letter with Open Face

A channel letter where the front is open, so that the neon tube is visible.


A lettering or graphic printed or cut out of vinyl that can be transferred to another surface.

Permanent Sign

A sign that is affixed to a building or structure in such a way as to give it the support necessary to withstand environmental loads over time.


Clear and complete specifications for the appearance, structure and layout of a sign. A design may include technical drawings, illustrations and written descriptions of the sign.


A symbol used to represent an object or concept. They are commonly found in ADA signaling. An example of a pictogram would be the wheelchair symbol seen on some signs, the presence of which indicates a location accessible to people with disabilities.

Dimensional Letters

Any letter, logo or symbol that is raised in relation to a surface.


A generic term that covers a wide range of synthetic materials that consists of long chains of polymers that are moldable and soften when heated. Many plastic materials used in the sign industry are of the thermoplastic variety, which means they can melt and solidify repeatedly.

Directional Sign

A sign that gives information, whether written or visual, that helps lead the world.

Plexiglas ®

A rigid plastic material. The name Plexiglas is often used in the sign industry to describe acrylic.


A sign that provides an organized list of names of people, offices or facilities located within a given building or area. Usually located inside a building. Usually located at a public access point, such as a building lobby, a directory can provide simple text listings or also include maps and other wayfinding information.

PMS (Pantone)

A standardized color scheme used in the printing industry to ensure color consistency from design to final print.

Double Sided Sign

A panel having two faces mounted in opposite directions.

Letter "Push-through"

A letter or graphic that is cut out and pushed through a matching space that has been removed from other material. This is typically a different color and/or material than the rest of the sign. Typically used with an opaque enclosure with interior light. Most push through letters are flush or slightly beyond the front of the panel.

Neon Sign

Any sign that contains and uses electrical components.


A specific weather and chemical resistant thermosetting plastic, extruded in many shapes or molded into sheets in a variety of colors and thicknesses.

Electronic Sign

Term used for any type of programmable electronic display.


Resolution describes in digital images, the number of pixels on a screen; the greater the number of pixels in a given space, the more accurate will be the image or photo.


A thin electrostatically charged material used for lettering on glass and other smooth surface (acrylic , mirrors , plates). The static charge of the material allows it to adhere firmly to the smooth surface, yet still be peeled off easily.

Reverse Channel Letter

A channel letter that has the face and sides closed, but not back. When the neon tube inside the letter is lit, it produces a halo effect around the letter.

Engraved Sign

Traditionally, this type of sign has been produced in brass or aluminum. Today however, we use a plastic one. This plastic is a lamination of different layers of different colored materials. When we etch the top, we reveal the different colored laminate underneath. Unlike in the past where signs were engraved by hand, today they are made with a computer engraving machine.


A mobile sign with lettering or graphics on each side. Also known as A-Frame.


A plastic or metal ring that is inserted into a hole in your hardware. It prevents fraying of the material around the hole.


Any structure or display that is made to attract the attention of the public for the purposes of advertising, identifying or communicating information about goods and services.


A sign face made with a flexible material stretched over a support frame.

Sign Foam

A brand of specialty polymer products, designed for three-dimensional signage applications, available in various densities.


A set of letters and numerals sharing the same design characteristics. Examples of font sets include Helvetica and Arial.


Any device used in mounting letters or signs that separates them from the surface on which they are mounted. The spacer allows letters to be spaced from a surface.

Four Color Process

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 hard plastic blade used to apply vinyl to a surface.


A unit of measurement for the thickness of sheet metal or wires. The smaller the gauge number the greater the thickness.


Adhesive vinyl in which a drawing is cut. When a stencil is placed on top of another material and paint is applied, the image represented by the cutout portion of the stencil is printed on top.


The smooth transition from one color to another color, from black to white, or from color to the absence of color.

Tactile Sign

A sign, or area within a larger sign that conveys its message through raised or engraved artwork, making it accessible to the visually impaired.

''Halo'' Effect

A bright ring of light that surrounds an object, such as a channel letter lit from behind.


A full size model, which shows the exact size and placement of the letters. Generally used for the installation of raised letters or dimensional signs.

Hanging Sign

A 2-sided sign mounted on a wall or suspended by a post.

Transfer Paper

A semi-transparent tape that helps transfer lettering or a logo to another surface.


The amount of light falling on a surface expressed in lumens.


A vinyl that allows light to pass through without being transparent. The interior-lit signs are backed by translucent vinyl.


A small freestanding structure typically used in trade shows

Vinyl Letters

Letters cut from adhesive material, available in dozens of opaque, translucent and metallic colors.

Window Lettering

As the sign industry has evolved, traditional painted lettering has been replaced by adhesive vinyl lettering. Today we add digital printing to add graphic elements.