Sign Glossary

Sign Terminology And Definitions


  • A Board

    Double-sided sign frame that typically has a coroplast sign insert on each side. Coroplast inserts are removable and replaceable. These signs are also used in retail areas and are often placed on sidewalks. Also see Sandwich Board or Sidewalk sign.

  • Acrylic

    A plastic substrate material used for backlit signs, ADA signs and dimensional letters.

  • ADA Signs

    Wayfinding and nameplate signs that meet the US Americans with Disabilities Act compliance requirements.

  • Aluminum Composite Material (ACM)

    Comprised of two thin layers of aluminum with a PVC cord. Also see Dibond.

  • Application Tape

    A low-tack adhesive tape that transfers cut vinyl graphics from their liner to the sign, wall or vehicle. See also Transfer Tape and PreMask.

  • Awning Sign

    A type of wall-mounted sign that is attached to a building. These signs typically extend over a storefront entryway like an awning, protecting customers from the elements.


  • Backlit Sign

    Backlighting is used in exterior cabinet signs and have a clear or translucent face. They are lit from inside of the cabinet. Backlighting can also be used on dimensional letters. In this case, the back of the letters has a clear or translucent backing that light projects through. This creates a halo effect from the back of the letters against the building.

  • Banner

    Flexible vinyl material with a direct print. Banners are usually considered temporary, although heavy-duty banners will hold up outdoors for several years if installed correctly.

  • Boulevard Banners

    Vertical banners that hand from lamp poles. This type of banner is typically displayed along a street or boulevard and are used to advertise community or commercial events.


  • Cabinet Sign

    Typically backlit, cabinet signs are comprised of a metal frame and a translucent face with graphics. These signs can be single or double-sided.

  • Calendered Vinyl Film

    Calendered vinyl films are usually thicker than cast films and have a shorter life. They typically last outdoors for 4 to 5 years and are mainly used on flat surfaces.

  • Cast Vinyl Film

    Cast vinyl films are thinner than calendered film and typically last longer, from 7 to 10 years on outdoor surfaces. These films are suitable for curved surfaces and are the go-to vinyl for vehicle wraps.

  • Channel Letters

    Individual shaped letters and logo that can be illuminated or unilluminated. Illumination can be backlit or frontlit. Channel letters can be used for interior and exterior applications.

  • CMYK

    Ink colors used in large format printing - Cyan (C), Magenta (M), Yellow (Y) and Black (K).

  • Color Change Vehicle Wrap

    Wraps that change the color of a vehicle using vinyl film. Color change film is available in a wide range of colors from various vinyl manufacturers.

  • Contour Cut

    The cut lines that outline a design or letters. Contour cut graphics use transfer tape to hold the vinyl together until it is applied to a surface. See also die-cut graphics.

  • Coroplast (Coro)

    Plastic material that is corrugated, which produces “flutes”. H-stakes or step stakes can be inserted into the flutes to make a sign frame/stand. See also Yard Sign.

  • Cut Vinyl

    Colored vinyl with adhesive backing, available in a wide range of colors. Colored vinyl is cut into letters and shapes for use on signs and other surfaces, including vehicles.


  • Dibond

    Aluminum composite sign panel brand name for a specific manufacturer.

  • Die-Cut Graphics

    Custom shapes, logo or design that’s been individually cut around the edges. See also Contour Cut.

  • Digital Print

    Vinyl film graphic produced by a large-format digital printer instead of using offset or screen printing.

  • Dimensional Letters

    Three-dimensional (3-D) lettering or shapes that are cut from a substrate or fabricated. Dimensional letters are typically made from metal, ACM or acrylic.

  • Directory Sign

    Typically used in a multi-tenant office building, directory signs identify the businesses and suite numbers of individual tenants in a building or office complex.


  • Electric Sign

    A sign that is wired to use electricity, typically for illumination.

  • Electronic Message Center

    A sign with a digital LED or LCD electronic display. This type of sign typically has rotating content showing advertisements or messages directed to customers or prospective customers. They may also include video content.

  • Exterior Sign

    Exterior signs are located outdoors, typically on the front of a building. They can be illuminated or non-illuminated.


  • Face

    The area on a sign designated for displaying advertising content. Signs can feature more than one face.

  • Fascia Sign

    A sign mounted directly to the fascia of a building.

  • Floor Graphics

    A diverse array of graphics suitable for application on walkable surfaces such as wood, tile, linoleum, low-pile carpet, and also concrete and asphalt. These floor graphics can last from several days to many months, enduring heavy foot traffic.

  • Freestanding Sign

    A type of sign that is not attached to a building or structure and stands alone, often supported by its own frame or structure. Examples include pylon signs, monument signs, and sandwich boards.

  • Frosted or Dusted Vinyl

    Frosted vinyl is a type of adhesive film that is commonly used on glass surfaces to create a frosted, translucent effect. It mimics the appearance of etched or sandblasted glass, providing privacy while still allowing light to pass through.

  • Full Wrap

    Graphics for vehicles that encompass the entire surface of a car, truck, or van. This form of advertising is highly cost-efficient, amounting to merely a few cents per thousand views throughout the lifespan of the wrap.


  • Gloss Finish

    Vinyl lamination with a very shiny or high-gloss finish. Usually used on commercial vehicle wraps to draw attention to the graphics.

  • Grommet

    Typically used on banners, grommets are comprised of two round pieces of metal, one on either side of the banner material. They create rigid, long-lasting attachment points for hanging.


  • H-Stake

    Economical step-style stakes made from metal that are used for coroplast signs.

  • Halo Lighting

    Lighting that’s internally installed in channel letters to emit illumination from the back. Halo lighting reflects on the wall behind each letter and creates a glowing effect.


  • Interior Sign

    An interior sign is located within a building. This type of sign includes reception signs, directory signs and room identification signs, among others.

  • Halo Lighting

    Lighting that’s internally installed in channel letters to emit illumination from the back. Halo lighting reflects on the wall behind each letter and creates a glowing effect.


  • Laminate (or overlaminate)

    A transparent, protective film often used to cover the surface of a digital print, safeguarding it from fading and scratches.

  • LED

    Light-emitting diodes (LED’s) are highly efficient sources of light that have largely supplanted neon lighting when it comes to illuminated signage.

  • Lobby Sign

    Typically installed in a lobby or office reception area. Most lobby signs are comprised of dimensional letters and feature the business name and/or logo.

  • Luster Finish

    Also referred to as satin finish, a luster finish is in between glossy and matte laminated with regard to sheen.


  • Magnetic Signage

    Signs made from magnetic material that can quickly and easily be placed on any magnetic surface. Historically used mostly on vehicles, there are now many new versions of magnetic signage that is used for quick-change signage needs.

  • Matte Finish

    A sheen that has virtually no gloss level, similar in appearance to flat paint.

  • Mesh Banner Material

    Banner vinyl made from mesh material that can allow air passage. Ideal for outdoor and windy conditions, believed to be more visually appealing than wind slits.

  • Monument Sign

    A monument sign is a freestanding sign that is typically mounted at ground level. These signs are distinguished by their low profile and direct placement on the ground or on a low base, without visible support structures like poles or braces. Monument signs are favored for their ability to create a sophisticated and professional appearance, making a strong first impression for businesses or institutions.


  • Name Plate SIgn

    A nameplate sign is a small, usually rectangular sign that displays a person's name, title, or both, and is often used in professional settings. These signs are typically found on or near office doors, desks, or at the entrance of a cubicle.


  • Pan Face Sign

    A pan face sign is a type of sign commonly used for commercial purposes, characterized by its three-dimensional, pan-like shape. These types of signs are made from durable materials like aluminum or acrylic.

  • Partial Wrap

    A type of wrap that covers less of a vehicle than a full wrap. Partial wraps can cover ¼, ½ or ¾ of a vehicle, or virtually anything in between.

  • Perforated Vinyl

    Adhesive vinyl material used specifically on glass. The material has small holes in the surface that allow an image to be visible from the outside, but those inside can see out.

  • PMS Color

    PMS stands for Pantone Matching System, a proprietary color space used primarily in printing and in the manufacture of paints, fabrics, and plastics. The Pantone system is a standardized color reproduction system, which allows different manufacturers in different locations to refer to the Pantone system to make sure colors match without direct contact with one another.

  • Post and Panel Sign

    A post and panel sign is a type of outdoor signage consisting of a flat panel that is supported by one or more posts. These signs are versatile and commonly used for various purposes, such as business identification, wayfinding, real estate signage, and informational displays.

  • Projecting Sign

    A projecting sign, also known as a blade sign, is a type of signage that extends outwards from a building or structure and is typically mounted perpendicular to the flow of traffic. This design allows the sign to be visible to people approaching from either direction along the sidewalk or road.

  • Push-Through Letter Sign

    This type of sign features letters, logos, or shapes that are cut out of a sign panel and then "pushed through" from the back. This design creates a three-dimensional effect, with the pushed-through elements standing out from the sign's surface.

  • Pylon Sign

    A pylon sign is a tall, freestanding structure that is often used for commercial signage, particularly along highways or in front of businesses or shopping centers. These signs are distinct due to their height and visibility, designed to attract the attention of passersby, especially motorists.


  • Raceway

    An enclosed metal rectangle that houses the wiring of an electrical sign. Landlords often prefer to have channel letters mounted on a raceway to minimize the number of attachment points the sign will have to the building.

  • Raster File

    A raster file is a type of digital image file that is composed of a grid of pixels. Each pixel in a raster image is assigned a specific location and color value. When viewed at a standard scale, these pixels combine to form a complete image. Raster files are widely used for digital photographs and web images. However, vector files are preferred for logos due to their scalability without quality loss.

  • Retractable Banner Stand

    Also known as a roll-up banner or pull-up banner, a retractable banner stand is a portable display system used commonly in events, trade shows, conferences, and retail spaces. It consists of a banner that can be pulled up and displayed on a supporting stand and retracted back into a base unit for easy transport and storage.


  • Sandwich Board/Sidewalk Sign

    A sandwich board sign is a type of portable, freestanding signage that consists of two boards connected at the top and spread apart at the bottom, creating an A-shape when viewed from the side. These signs are commonly placed on sidewalks or in front of businesses to attract the attention of passersby and are popular with restaurants and retails stores.

  • Substrate

    Refers to the base material onto which graphic elements like text, images, or decorative designs are applied in the creation of a sign. It's essentially the foundation or background of a sign, and its selection is crucial as it influences the sign's durability, appearance, and suitability for its intended location and purpose.


  • Table Throw

    Table throws feature full-color graphics including company logos and text. Typically used in trade shows as a table covering within a booth.

  • Translucent Vinyl

    A type of digitally-printed vinyl that is designed to allow light to pass through, but not entirely transparent. It's specifically engineered to diffuse light, providing a soft, glow-like effect when backlit. It is an ideal material for various applications where light plays a key role in visibility and aesthetics.


  • Vector File

    A vector file is a type of graphic file that uses mathematical algorithms to represent images. Unlike raster files, which are made up of pixels, vector graphics are composed of paths defined by a start and end point, along with other points, curves, and angles. Vector files are an essential tool in graphic design and digital illustration due to their versatility and ability to maintain high quality at any size.

  • VHB Tape

    VHB tape, which stands for "Very High Bond," is a high-strength, double-sided adhesive tape produced by 3M. It is designed for durable, long-term bonding of various materials, and is frequently used as one component in mounting small room identification signage to a wall.


  • Wall Graphics

    Wall graphics are decorative or informational designs applied directly to walls, transforming them into dynamic elements of a space. Wall graphics are comprised of printable wall paper, cut graphics and full print wall murals. They can be applied to interior and exterior walls.

  • Wall Sign

    A wall sign is a type of signage that is mounted directly onto the wall of a building or structure. These signs are used for a variety of purposes, including business identification, advertising or directional guidance.

  • Wayfinding Signs

    A wayfinding sign is a type of signage designed to guide people through a physical environment and includes directional information and location identification. The primary goal of wayfinding signs is to simplify navigation, reducing confusion and anxiety, and improving the overall efficiency of movement within physical spaces.

  • Window Graphics

    Visual displays applied to the windows of a business, serving as an effective tool for advertising, branding, and enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the storefront. These graphics are used in retail stores, restaurants, offices, and other commercial buildings.

  • Window Perf

    Window perf, short for window perforated film, is a type of graphic film used on windows, characterized by tiny perforations throughout the material. It is primarily used for advertising or branding purposes on vehicle windows or storefronts.


  • Yard Sign

    A yard sign is typically a temporary sign placed in the yard or lawn of a property. These signs are commonly used for a variety of purposes including advertising, political campaigns, real estate listings, business promotion, event announcements, and personal messages. Yard signs are an effective and economical way to convey messages offering high visibility and easy installation for short-term use.