3D Letters – Signage letters that give the appearance of a 3-dimensional image; typically used to give the letters extra visual appeal.  Can be made from wood, plastic or metal. (See Dimensional Letters)

A-frames – A stand-alone, portable sign stand that allows the replacement of the sign message or graphics.  Can also contain dry-erase board or chalk board surface (see also, Sandwich boards, Sidewalk Signs)

Acrylic Signs – Acrylic signs are made from a durable plastic and come in a wide range of colors as well as clear and frosted.  Plastic acrylic signage is extremely popular in upscale settings such as corporate offices and retail shops as they have a high-end look.

Address Plates – Usually engraved metal or bronze, address plates are commonly located next to front doors at both commercial and residential properties.

Aesthetics – A critical reflection on an item’s beauty or artistic value.  A design permit for a sign may take into consideration the aesthetics, including how the sign fits into it’s proposed surroundings.

Alumalite Signs / Alumicore – Alumalite is a strong, aluminum composite metal sign panel with a high density, copolymer corrugated plastic core.  Similar in construction to Dibond, Alumalite has two factory-painted sheets of aluminum permanently bonded to both sides of a corrugated plastic core, sandwiching the plastic panel in between.

Aluminum Signs – Custom aluminum signs are strong, light-weight and among the most durable of all sign materials.

Animated Sign – A sign depicting action, motion, lights, or color change.  Similar to a flashing sign, an animated sign features graphics and illustrations rather than words.

Awning – A building mounted sign that provides shelter.

Backlit Letter – A letter with an open or translucent back, that is illuminated.  Light is directed against a surface behind the letter, producing a halo effect.  Also known as a silhouette or halo lighted. (See Channel Letter)

Banner Flags – Vinyl banners typically in the shape of large teardrops or feathers mounted on poles used to market goods and services.

Banner Rails – Banner rails are an extremely popular option for customer banner displays.  With banner rails, you are able to hang your vinyl banner from the ceiling or an overhead pole.

Banner Stands / Retractables – Mounting devices that display outdoor, indoor, tradeshow, and other types of banners.

Banner Wrap – A vinyl banner sign wrapped around two large posts which stand at a distance from one another.  the banner wrap imitates a large solid sign.

Bevel – A beveled edge is a custom cut so that it does not form a right angle, but rather an aesthetically pleasing curve.

Brand – The mark, label, or image that makes a company recognizable.

Brand Equity (Branding) – The intangible value of product or a service in the marketplace, based on the way the business is perceived by customers.

Building Code – A governmental regulation of a structure’s construction or maintenance.

Building Fascia – The part of a building that extends vertically from the grade to the top wall or eaves and horizontally across the width of the building.  Signs may be affixed to the fascia.

Building Mounted Sign – The broad category for signs that are attached to a building; within this category are a number of other signs, which more specifically label where the sign is mounted (fascia, wall, roof, etc.)

Business Signs – Signage of varying materials and designs used to market a business’ goods and services.

Cabinet Sign – A sign structure comprised of a fram and face or faces.  Though a cabinet sign may include electrical components or support structure, the cabinet sign refers only to the frame and face.

Campaign Signs – Political and campaign signs are usually made of Coroplast. Posters are also commonly used for campaign signs. They are generally located roadside and mounted on stakes.

Canopy Sign – This term refers to either a building-mounted sign that serves as a marquee, or a sign mounted on a canopy or marquee.

Car Lettering – Car lettering is easily applied flat to the painted finish of your car. Vinyl car lettering is available in a wide range of colors and car graphics are available in nearly any custom design. Both have a shiny, satin finish.

Changeable Copy Panel – A sign composed of individual letters or numbers that are mounted on or in a track system.  Also known as a readerboard.

Channel Letters and Numbers – A three-dimensional letter that may include a light source.

Contrast – The difference between things having similar or different colors.  High-contrast signs are easier to read where as combinations with lower contrast – such as yellow on white – are more difficult.

Copy – The words displayed on a sign.

Copy Area – The area that contains the words on a sign.

Coroplast Signs – Tough, waterproof, corrugated plastic sign which resembles the appearance of “plastic cardboard.” (See also, Corrugated Plastic Signs)

Corrugated Plastic Signs – Tough, waterproof, corrugated plastic sign which resembles the appearance of “plastic cardboard.” (See also, Coroplast Signs)

Custom Signs – Signs created specifically for, and using the specifications of, a particular business or customer.

Coverage – A marketing term that applies to the percentage of the total population reached with a particular advertising message. 

Decals – Vinyl graphic sign image, logo or text mounted on an automobile, boat, trailer, window, or other smooth surface. All letters and graphics are on one solid sheet of vinyl.

Decorative Signage – Decorative signs are usually made from aluminum, plastic or wood and can be hung anywhere in your home or business as added décor.

Dibond Signs / Max Metal – Dibond is a type of metal sign material consisting of two factory-painted sheets of aluminum that are permanently bonded to both sides of a high density plastic core, sandwiching the plastic sign panel in between. Similar to Alumalite, only the core of Dibond is solid plastic

Dimensional Letter – A letter, logo or symbol that has been cut-out, cast, fabricated, or molded from materials such as metal or plastic.

Digital Signage – A large screen or series of screens which display a message, image or series of images.

Directional Sign – Points the way for pedestrians or drivers and can be especially useful when a business is not clearly seen from the entrance to a complex.

Directory Sign – Used in an office complex or building to identify the tenants.

Double Faced Sign – A sign with back-to-back faces.

Dry Erase Boards – A sign surface on which the customer may manually write or draw using dry erase markers and then erase the content to create a new message or image.

Edge Caps – Edge caps are plastic slides that cover and frame the edges of your sign.

Electric Sign – Any sign that contains electrical wiring.

Electronic Message Center (E.M.C.) – A sign that uses computer-generated messages or some other means of changing the words.  These signs also include lamps, LEDs, LCDs, or flipper matrix.

Engraved Plaques –  Engraved plaques are usually laser engraved bronze or silver plates mounted on wood. Engraved plaques are ideal for professional office, nameplates and custom awards.

Engraved Signs – Laser engraved signs are available in metal, plastic and wood. Engraved signs are commonly used for personalized gifts, awards, office signs and nameplates.

Extensions – An area cut out of a design that extends beyond the basic rectangular space of a sign face or message.

Exterior Illuminated Sign – A sign that is illuminated by a light that is directed towards and shines on the face of a sign; also called direct illumination.

Face – The surface of the sign where a company’s message is displayed.

Fascia Sign – A sign installed on a building’s fascia, the vertical surface that runs from the grade to the roof line and horizontally the width of the building.

Finishes – Durability coatings on signs.  Sign finishes range from Standard (no extra weather protection) to Premium (maximum weather protection)  Finishing options include: Matte, Gloss, or Semi-Gloss.

Flashing Sign – A sign with an intermittent flashing light source. Generally, a message is continuously repeated, with the sign used as an attention-getting device. One common example would be signage used by a state’s highway department to catch a driver’s eye.

Flat Cutout Letter – A one-dimensional letter cut from a sheet.

Florescent Lamp or Tube – A lighting system that uses glass tubing manufactured in standard lengths.

Font – The typeface, or set of letters and characters that conform to a standard designs.

Freestanding Sign – A sign that is not attached to a building.

Front Lighted Letter – An illuminated letter with a translucent face; typically used with channel letters.

Full Service Sign Company – A sign company that handles the entire signage project, including design, surveys, permitting, engineering, manufacturing, installation, and maintenance.

Grommets – Small metal rings that are clamped around the holes in vinyl banners.  Grommets can be used as mounting points to hang a banner.

Ground Sign – A freestanding sign with no visible support.

H-Channel Letter – A letter with baffles at the center to provide support for neon tubes and a location to mount transformers.

High Rise Sign – A tall freestanding sign.

Illegal Sign – A sign that fails to meet the current codes and regulations when erected.  It differs from a non-conforming sign, which is legal when created, but as laws and ordinances change, it no longer conforms to the codes.

Incandescent Bulb – A light that applies energy to a wire filament, with its energy usage measured in watts.  This is still the most common type of light bulb in everyday use, though use of energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs is growing.

Interior Signs – Signs that are located inside a building, even though they may be visible from outside.

Internally Illuminated Signs – A light source contained within the sign provides its illumination.

Joint Tenant Sign – Displays the various tenants of a business complex or shopping center and is most likely located near the entrance to the property.

Kerning – The space between letters on a sign used to create visual appeal and greater readability.

Legibility – How easy a sign is to read. This is based on the characteristics of letters, numbers, and characters that make it possible to differentiate one from another.

Lexan – An uncommonly strong sign material that has 50 times the impact strength of standard Acrylic or Plexiglas Plastic.  Lexan is so tough, it’s even used as bullet proof glass.

Lighted Cabinet Signs – A custom-built container used to house a sign display that is illuminated internally.  Typically the cabinet and sign surface will be rectangular in shape.

Light Emitting Diode (LED) and Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) – Electronic devices that channel light through tubes to create patterns that can produce changing video displays. Both are becoming more common in signage. LEDs often provide more energy efficiency while LCDs provide sharper displays.

Logo – A design or symbol that represents a product, identity, or service.

Luminescence – The perceived brightness of an illuminated sign. The standard measurement is candelas per square foot.

Magnetic Signs – A vinyl sign mounted on a flexible magnetic backing, typically used on automobiles, metal doors, or business cards.  Also comes with dry erase option.

Marquee – A permanent canopy often of metal and glass projecting over an entrance.

Marquee Sign – (1) A sign mounted on a permanent canopy. (2) A traditional industry term for the variable-message section of a canopy sign. (3) An integral sign and permanent canopy.

Max Metal  – Max Metal is a type of metal sign material consisting of two factory-painted sheets of aluminum that are permanently bonded to both sides of a high density plastic core, sandwiching the plastic sign panel in between.  Similar to Alumalite, only the core of dibond is solid plastic. (See Dibond) 

Menu Board – A variable-message sign that allows a retailer to list products and prices.

Message Center – An electronically or mechanically variable-message sign in which changes are made from locations other than at the sign.

Mobile Sign – A portable sign mounted on a trailer.

Monument Sign – A ground sign with low overall height. (See freestanding sign.)

Nameplates – A small placard with a name engraved on the surface; typically mounted on a wall or desk.

NEC (National Electric Code) – a series of standards to which all electrified devices must comply. Many cities and states reference the NEC in their own codes, though the NEC is not a law in itself.

Non-Conforming Sign – A sign that was legally erected and maintained but does not comply with subsequently enacted sign restrictions. In these cases, the sign may be removed—with compensation provided by the governing agency—or be allowed to remain for a set period of years, called amortization.

Neon Sign or Tube – A sign that uses a cold-cathode gas-discharge tube that may be straight or formed. This is generally referred to as neon, though the gas contained inside may be a mixture of two or more inert gases, such as argon, helium, krypton, or xenon. Neon tube lighting is custom designed and may include letters, tubing, outline lighting, and decorative art. A cold-cathode tube has a relatively long life, compared to a hot-cathode fluorescent lamp or an incandescent bulb.

Off-Premise Sign – A sign that is not located on the property of the business which it is advertising. Also known as a third-party sign or outdoor advertising. This is considered out-of-home media.

On-Premise Sign – A sign that is located on the property of the business which it is advertising. On-premise signs are not considered out-of-home media.

Open Channel Letter – A letter that has no face, though a clear face may be used to protect internal components. If illuminated, the light source is visible.

Outside Panel – Where two or more panels are positioned side by side, this is the advertising panel located closest to the edge of the street.

Overlay (Snipe) – A paper strip or price designation, which is pasted on the face of an existing advertising panel.

Pan Channel Letter – One of the most common types of signage; each letter is constructed with four sides—a face, sidewalls and a back—making the letter a solid unit.

Pan Face – A plastic sign face molded into a three-dimensional shape. Also called molded face, molded and embossed face, or molded and debossed face.

Parapet Sign – A sign mounted on the building’s parapet, which is a wall or railing that runs along the edge of a roof.

Permanent Sign – A sign that is attached in such a way that it enables the sign to resist wind and is difficult to remove or move. It may be attached to a building or to the ground.

Plexiglas – Acrysteel: has 10 times the impact strength as standard Acrylic or Plexiglas Plastic.  With enhanced break resistance, Acrysteel and Acrylite are among the most popular materials used for replacement sign faces.

Point of Purchase – A sign or display located at the point of sale. Studies have shown that the right signage can have a dramatic impact on a product’s sales.

Pole Banners – Banners with built in pole pockets (see also, Pole Pockets) to allow for pole mounting.

Pole Pockets – Pockets built into a vinyl banner’s edge that allows the banner to be displayed on poles.  the poles slide into the pockets.

Pole or Pylon Cover – An enclosure for concealing and/or decorating poles or other structural supports of a ground sign.

Pole Sign – A freestanding sign with visible support structure.

Portable Sign – A sign not permanently attached to the ground or a building, and easily removable using ordinary hand tools.

Posters – Posters are printed with eco-friendly, fade-resistant permanent ink and matte finished paper.  They are commonly used for advertising movies and sales, at tradeshows and as point-of-sale signs.

Post and Panel Sign – A sign which uses one or more visible posts and is unlighted.

Projecting Sign – A building-mounted sign that projects from and is perpendicular to the building’s fascia.

Proof – A small-scale computerized representation of your sign.

Push-Through – A letter or logo that is cut out of a backing material as thick or thicker than the sign face. The material is then mounted on the inside of the sign face so that it is flush with or extends through and beyond the front of the sign face.

Pylon Sign – A freestanding sign with a visible support structure. It may or may not be enclosed by a pole cover.

Raceway – An electrical enclosure which can also be used to attach a sign to the structure.

Raster Image – Images constructed with pixels, or points of color.  Raster images are stored in image files with varying formats such as .jpeg .bmp and .gif files.  Raster images cannot be enlarged (not scalable) and without losing clarity (see also, Vector image).

Readability – All of the characteristics of the letters, numbers, and symbols that allow the observer to perceive the right message.

Real Estate Signs – Real estate signs are vitally important for agents to stand out from the crowd.  They are usually made from aluminum or Coroplast.

Recognition – The ability to connect a message with the particular advertiser.

Regulatory Sign – A sign used to convey information about rules, ordinances, or laws.

Replacement Sign Faces – Sign text and graphics used on frames that allow the exchange of sign surfaces.  Sign faces are typically secured by screws, clips, or inserted into a frame’s channel grooves.

Retainer – A framing member designed to attach a face to the cabinet and/or to provide a decorative trim. It is mounted around the perimeter of a sign face and attached to the sign cabinet structure.

Retractable Banner – Vinyl banners that roll up inside the base of a banner stand for storage or transport.

Return – The side of a channel letter.

Reveal – An indented detail on a sign.

Reverse Channel Letter – Letters mounted away from a wall, forming a halo behind the letters, often lighted by neon.

Right of Way (ROW) – The area adjacent to a public street. Permanent commercial signs are typically placed on the private land near the public right of way. Local codes may have requirements on how near or far away from the right of way a sign can be placed.

Roof Sign – A building-mounted sign erected upon and completely over the roof of the building.

Sandwich Board / Sidewalk Sign – A sign not secured or attached to the ground or surface upon which it is located, but supported by its own frame, which is typically in the shape of an A.

Screw Caps – Small plastic covers installed over screw heads to give a more finished appearance.

Sidewalk Signs – A-frame or sandwich board signs often used outside of storefronts and resaurants to advertise specials and promotions.  they are lightweight and portable.

Sign – Any device, structure, fixture, painting, or visual image using words, graphics, symbols, numbers, or letters designed for the purpose of conveying information or attracting attention.

Sign Band – In a complex with multiple tenants, a sign band runs along the top of the building, with room to accommodate each business’s signs.

Sign Face – The area of a sign on which words and images are placed.

Single-Face Sign – A sign with only one face plane.

Snipe (Overlay) – A paper strip or price designation, which is pasted on the face of an existing advertising panel.

Standoffs – High quality hardware used to stand your acrylic sign off the wall, giving it a 3-D effect.

Target Audience – The most desirable consumer for a particular product or service.

Temporary Sign – Any sign intended to be used for a limited period of time, not for a permanent installation.

Time and Temperature Display – A variable-message sign that displays current time and temperature in a stationary or alternating manner. Some also display simple messages.

Trademark (Service Mark) – A symbol that distinguishes a business and its products from the competition. This may include a name, symbol, word, or any combination thereof. Trademarks are protected by the federal government and considered to have financial value.

Tradeshow Display – Glossy, high resolution banners with accompanying stands used to market one’s good and services at trade shows.

Transformer – Electrical equipment that converts incoming voltage and current to a different outgoing voltage and current.

Under-Canopy Sign – A sign mounted underneath a canopy.

Variable-Message Sign – A sign that allows the message to be easily changed.

Variance – An allowance that provides an exception to zoning rules.

Vector Image – Graphic images use geometrical primitives such as points, lines, curves, and shapes or polygons, rather than pixels (see also Raster Images).  Vector logos, graphics and vector backgrounds can be enlarged (scalable) without losing clarity.

Vehicle Wraps – A vinyl graphic applied to a car, truck, van, or trailer, essentially creating a rolling billboard.

Vinyl (Flexible Face) – A substrate upon which an advertising message is rendered, either by computer production or hand painting.

Vinyl Graphics – Vinyl graphics are easily applied flat to store front windows and doors.  They are available in nearly any custom design and have a shiny, satin finish.

Vinyl Banners – “Fabric Like” flexible outdoor signs typically hung by ropes or cables.

Visibility – The physical attributes of a sign and its contents that allow the sign to be seen—if not fully legible—at a given distance.

Wall Mural – A display applied directly to a building’s exterior. Painting may be the most common method, though a painted or printed vinyl substance may be applied as well.

Wall Sign – A building-mounted sign attached to, displayed, or painted on an exterior wall in a manner parallel with the wall surface, and not projecting more than 16 inches from such surface.

Wayfinding – A type of sign that allows users to find their way, using information provided along the travel path.

Window Lettering – Vinyl Letters that may be applied to windows.

Window Perf – Window perfs are sheets of thin vinyl that fit onto a window and are transparent from the inside but opaque from the outside.  they often feature custom images and are commonly seen on the back window of pickup trucks.

Window Sign – A sign that is painted on, attached to, or suspended directly behind or in front of a window or the glass portion of a door.


Yard Signs – Materials for yard signs include aluminum and Coroplast.  Both materials are commonly used for real estate signs and campaign signs.