Related to signage, it is the removal or correction of a sign that violates local community code or standards.


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.


In general, any device that connects and secures one object to another. An example would be the devices used to secure awnings and fascia signs to facades. 

Annual ADT (annual average daily traffic)

The average number of vehicles passing a given location each day over the course of a year. This statistic can usually be obtained from your state or local roads department.

Approach sign

A sign indicating the approach of a specific destination such as a highway, street intersection, or building entrance. Different to a directional sign in that it announces a single destination.

Architectural signage

A term used to describe signage in a campus environment having the purpose of providing wayfinding or other site specific information. They are designed to complement the design aesthetics of a building or group of buildings. It enhances branding and is most often used to aid in wayfinding.


Any and all logos, graphics and images used in creating a sign.

Aspect ratio

The width-to-height ratio of an image. For example, a high definition television image has an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (commonly referenced as 16:9), meaning that for every 1.78 inches of image width the image extends 1 inch in height.

Back-to-back sign

A sign having two faces mounted in opposite directions. Pole signs typically have back-to-back faces. (Also called a double-faced sign.)

Background panel

A sign panel to which text or graphical elements are affixed.

Backlit sign

A sign where the sign face is illuminated from behind.

Blade sign

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


An uninstalled sign panel with no lettering or graphics applied. (Also called an insert.)


1. In screen 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. 2. Sometimes used to describe the halation where sharply contrasting colors meet on an illuminated sign.

Box sign

A sign that is self enclosed in a typically square or rectangular structure with or without internal lighting. Can be single- or double-faced.

Brand Development

The process of creating a unique, positive and recognizable identity for a product or service. Along with marketing and advertising, creating a visual identity through signage is an important part of the branding process.

Building code

Regulations issued by state and local governments that establish standards for the construction, modification and repair of buildings and other structures in the interest of public health, safety and general welfare. 

Cabinet Sign

- Are manufactured from steel or aluminum and don’t have to be just a rectangular box. Cabinet sign faces can be digitally printed on high quality Flex Face material, Plexiglas, or Acrylic sheets. And for smaller or unique designs, vinyl is applied to Plexiglas or Acrylic sheets and coated with a UV resistant laminate to provide a long life in the harshest of environments.

CAD (computer aided design) software

Advanced software used in engineering and manufacturing to create and modify complex 3D technical drawings of a device and its components.


A unit of luminosity used to express the intensity of a light source as measured in a specific direction. The higher the number of candela measured, the greater the intensity of the light.

Canopy sign

A projecting sign made of non-rigid material such as heavy canvas supported by a framework that at one end is attached to a building's substrate and at the other end supported by one or more poles. The canopy sign extends outward from the building and acts as a roof over the area it covers, providing weather protection for customers, pedestrians and possibly even vehicles. A canopy sign will have lettering and/or graphics painted or screen printed on its exterior surface. It may or not be illuminated. 

Channel Letter Signs-

are formed metal letters illuminated with LED or neon and each letter having separate illumination. LED channel letters have become the most common over the last several years as they outlast and outperform neon. They can be mounted individually or as a single unit on a raceway. Each letter is enclosed with an acrylic face and the color choices are unlimited for both the sign face and body.


A cover added to conceal or decorate the base or supporting structure of a sign.


The measured distance between the lowest portion of a sign and the highest point of the grade underneath. (Also called height above grade.)

Construction site sign

A temporary sign, typically large and freestanding, displayed at construction site to promote and provide information about the company or companies involved in the project. These can include the contractor, architect, developer, etc.


1. The amount of difference between the lightest and darkest areas in an image or scene. 2. The visual characteristics of an object such as size, shape and color that make it distinguishable from other objects near it and the background it is set against.


As a whole, the written message on a sign. 


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.

Dimensional letter

Any letter, logo or symbol that has a raised profile in relation to the sign substrate.

Direct illumination

Illuminating a sign by means of an external light source directed at the sign face. (See also exterior illuminated sign.)

Directional sign

A sign providing information, either written or visual, that helps direct a person to a destination.

Directory sign

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.

Double-faced sign

A sign having two faces mounted in opposite directions. Pole signs are typically doubled-faced. (Also called a back-to-back sign.)

Electric sign

Any sign that contains and utilizes electrical components

Electronic message center (EMC)

A variable message sign that utilizes a computer or other electronic controlled means to change and control the message displayed. May use incandescent lamp LCD, LED or other display technology


A scale drawing of an exterior side of a given structure such as a building or sign.


To incise (cut) a design into the surface of hard material such as metal using a handheld or machine controlled tool called a burin.

Exterior illuminated sign

A sign that is illuminated by an external light source directed at the sign face.


The process of forcing metal or plastic through a form in order to create a desired shape.


To manufacture a sign or major sign components.

Fabricated letter

A dimensional letter typically fabricated from sheet metal.


The exterior walls of a building, especially the front or the most prominent side of the building.


Typically refers to the most prominent message area of a sign but may refer generically to any message area.

Fascia sign

A sign mounted to a wall or other vertical surface. A flat sign that is mounted on a wall and the face of which runs parallel to the wall. A fascia sign does not typically project from the wall.


General term for nuts, bolts, clips and any other mechanical device that helps hold a sign together.

First surface

That element or layer that comprises the outermost surface of a sign.

Flat cutout letter

A non-illuminated letter cut from a metal sheet or plate stock.

Flex Face

Typically backlit signs and awnings, with either spot or full color graphics. An abrasion resistant, antifungal durable scrim extruded within the fabric makes this an extremely durable outdoor material. Diffusion layer provides for brilliant graphics. May be sewn, seamed and grommeted to finish in a wide variety of methods and sizes.

Fluorescent lamp

A light source consisting of a glass tube lined with a phosphor coating and filled with mercury vapor. When an electric current is applied, the gas emits ultraviolet radiation that in turn excites the phosphor coating causing it to radiate visible light. Fluorescent lamps are more energy efficient than incandescent lamps.


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


The base of a sign's supporting structure. The footing is typically secured to a foundation or other anchor such as a building's roof.


A concrete substructure that anchors a sign and its supporting structure to the ground. 

Freestanding sign

A sign that is not attached to a building, has its own support structure and is typically secured to a foundation or with guy wires.


The number of times a typical viewer has the opportunity to see a sign and its message over a given period, ground sign

Ground Sign

- A freestanding sign that is not secured to a foundation or other secondary support structure

Halo lighting

A type of sign lighting where a light source located within or behind a sign is allowed to reflect off the mounting surface. The result is that the sign appears to be surrounded by a halo of light.

Hanging sign

A projecting double-faced sign mounted to a wall or pole and hung from a bracket or support arm.

Height above grade

The measured distance between the lowest portion of a sign and the highest point of the grade underneath. (Also called clearance.)

High-rise sign

A freestanding sign tall enough to be seen from a distance, especially by motorists.

Hinged side

The hinged side of a double-faced sign. When opened it provides access to the interior of the sign allowing for the inspection and servicing of its internal components. 

Identification sign

A sign that provides the name of the business displaying the sign.


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

Illuminated sign

A sign where the sign face is illuminated in some manner.


An uninstalled sign panel with no lettering or graphics applied.


1. The amount of light (measured in lumens) put out by a lamp in relation to the distance at which it is viewed. The greater the output and the closer the viewing point, the greater the perceived intensity. 2. The relative saturation of a given color.

Interior sign

Any sign located within a building or structure.

Internally illuminated sign

A sign that is illuminated by a light source contained within the sign structure or housing.

LED (light emitting diode)

A small electronic device that emits light when electrically charged. In computer controlled arrays, LEDs can used to create an electronic message center.


Any measurable force exerted on a structure or object. Things that can add load to a sign and its supporting structure include water, snow and wind.


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

Low profile sign

A freestanding sign built close to the ground or on top of a base sitting directly on the ground. Often incorporates the support structure into the overall design. (See also monument sign.)


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. It is expressed as footlamberts or candelas per square foot or meter respectively.

Menu board

A changeable point-of-purchase sign that provides a list of products and prices. It is a type of sign commonly seen in sandwich shops and other fast service restaurants where it is used to display the menu.

Message center

Any sign designed such that the copy (message) can be changed as needed through mechanical or electronic means.

Monument Signs

are freestanding exterior signs typically located at entrances to communities, businesses and churches. The sign can be illuminated and is usually designed with an attractive brick, stone or wooden base with side pillars.

Multi-tenant signs

are large freestanding signs with multiple signage cabinets typically built for shopping centers, malls, office buildings or other developments that house a range of tenants requiring signage.

National Electric Code (NEC)

A set of codes and standards set forth by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) for the safe use of electrical wiring and equipment

Neon sign

A sign that incorporates one or more neon lamps. The sign message is created by bending and forming the neon tubes into lettering and/or iconic graphical shapes.

Off-premise sign

A sign that is not located on or directly adjacent to the business or property to which it relates. A billboard is an example of an off-premise sign.


Describes any material or substance through which light does not pass, i.e. it is neither transparent nor translucent.

Open channel letter

A channel letter with returns that project forward from face of letter such that the neon tubing is visible.

Pan channel letter

A dimensional letter that is constructed with integrated face, back and sidewalls so as to make the letter appear as a single solid unit.

Pan face

A plastic sign face that has had three dimensional lettering or graphical elements vacuum molded (embossed) into its surface. (Also called embossed plastic face sign.)

Permanent sign

Any 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 and to preclude easy removal.


A legal document (license) granted by the appropriate government agency that gives official permission to take a specific action, e.g. erect a sign.


The trade name for a brand of acrylic sheeting, which (like Kleenex) is often mistakenly used as a generic term.

Point-of-purchase (POP) sign

In-store advertising designed to stimulate impulse purchases by shoppers inside a store. The term applies to a store's internal sign system, as well as special displays and dispensers created by and for specific product manufacturers. Also known as "point-of-sale advertising."

Pole sign

A freestanding sign, usually double-faced, mounted on a round pole, square tube, or other fabricated member without any type of secondary support.

Post and panel sign

A sign panel with one or more posts.


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. "Push-thru letters" are most often translucent acrylic letters that are pushed through a sign face panel to be flush or over-flush with the front surface of the sign face.

Pylon Signs

are illuminated cabinets mounted on welded, staged poles from 20 feet to 80 feet tall. Pylon signs, commonly referred to as pole signs, are ideal for attracting attention from afar. Pylon signs are commonly used by businesses such as hotels, buildings, gas stations, retail stores and more. They are frequently used on the side of roadways, freeways, and highways.


1. A metal structure enclosing the electric components of a sign, exclusive of the transformer. 2. An electrical enclosure that may also serve as a mounting structure for the sign.


The quality of a sign's overall design that allows the viewer to correctly interpret the information presented on it. Also, the optimum time and distance in which this can be done. Letter size and style, legibility of typeface, color contrast between letters and background, and a sign's layout all contribute to readability.


In signage, this refers to the ability of a viewer to remember the message even when they are not viewing it.

Regulatory sign

Signs installed by various government bodies to inform the public of traffic laws and other regulations.


1. In digital images, the number of pixels shown on a screen; the higher the number of pixels in a given space (i.e., the greater the density of pixels), the more precise the pictured image.


The projecting rim around the sign face that holds it in place.

Reverse channel letter

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.

Revolving sign

A sign that has the ability to turn 360 degrees because of the presence of an electric motor to drive its movable parts. All or a portion of the sign may revolve at a steady or variable speed.

Screen Printing

Graphic application method capable of printing great detail and color on a variety of substrates such as paper, plastics, aluminum, vinyl, and banner materials.


In a sign or development code, the distance between the primary face of the sign and the property line or right of way. The distance is measured in a straight line from the base/bottom of the sign. Most municipalities require that signs comply with specified setbacks or that a variance from the regulations be applied for and secured.

Shop drawings

Drawings prepared by trades to describe the quantity, shape, size, materials and other details of a product's construction. In signage, it refers to drawings prepared by fabricators describing their intended methods of construction and sequence of assembly to be reviewed by designer and owner for approval prior to construction and fabrication. Shop drawings help assure that the original design concept is accurately carried out in the construction process.


Any device, structure, display or placard which is affixed to, placed on or in proximity to, or displayed from within a building to attract the attention of the public for the purposes of advertising, identifying or communicating information about goods and services.

Sign band

A horizontal area above a multi-tenant building entrance, architecturally designed to accommodate signage in a signcentric manner.

Sign code

A sign code may be part of a government body's land use planning regulations, or it may be a separate document designed to interact with other land use codes. As part of the police powers granted to local governments, a sign code normally seeks to promote the health, safety and welfare of the public. Sign codes may regulate size, placement, illumination, structure and aesthetics of sign content and design.

Sign face

Typically refers to the most prominent message area of a sign but may refer generically to any message area.

Single face sign

A sign consisting of one face, rather than back-to-back faces on a common frame or back-to-back messages on the same piece of material.


May include General Requirements, Products and Execution sections for sign specification package. Similar to architectural construction format per CSI (Construction Specifications Institute) standards.

Stroke width

The width of the major lines comprising a letterform. A wider stroke width is used to make a bolder letter; a narrower stroke width is used to make a lighter letter.


The surface to which graphics are applied. Can be plastics, metals, vinyls, banners, fabrics, papers, glass and many more.

Tactile sign

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. Required by A.D.A. for all permanently identified rooms.


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 process that takes a flat sheet of material and gives it dimension by heating then forcing it into a mold either mechanically or pneumatically. See also vacuum-forming.

Trade area

Most retail businesses have a relatively fixed area that customers come from to do business at their store. In general; the trade area is either the living or work locale for the customer. The selling zone of place-based retail business will be dynamic for two reasons; the customer is moving residences or jobs or the customer is passing through on a trip that intersects the trade area.

Traffic count

The estimated number of people who will see a sign in a given time period. Traffic count is most commonly associated with number of vehicles passing a location in a day.


Electrical equipment that converts input voltage and current to a different output voltage and current. In general, a transformer is any apparatus that continuously increases or decreases the voltage of a power supply. They are an important element in all neon signs, due to the high voltage required. (Fluorescent lamps require a specialized type of transformer unit called a ballast.)


The property of a material such as vinyl, paint or ink that allows the passage of some light through it without being transparent. Internally illuminated signs rely on translucent paints and vinyls.

Tube colors

Tubing for neon signs is produced as clear glass or in colors. Different tube colors serve as filters that only allow the desired color to shine through. In many cases, the only way to achieve rich primary colors is through colored glass.

Tube diameter

The term used to describe the width of a tube. The standard measurement to describe the width of neon tubing is expressed in millimeters.

Vacuum forming

Method of forming sign faces in which a plastic sheet is clamped in a stationary frame, heated and forced down by a vacuum onto a mold.


A method by which a government body formally deviates from the terms of its sign or zoning ordinance. Typically, obtaining a variance for a sign requires the applicant to show that it would not be contrary to the public interest or that a literal enforcement of the regulations would result in unnecessary and undue hardship (due to conditions unique to the property).


Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) film that, in sign making, is backed with an adhesive that creates a strong bond to a surface when pressure is applied. Many different integral colors are available with adhesives having different levels of aggressiveness (adhesion) for various applications from permanent to semi-permanent to temporary.

Vinyl letters

Letters cut from adhesive-backed material, in dozens of opaque, translucent, metallized, and transparent colors and patterns.


The quality of a letter, number, graphic, or symbol, which enables the observer to distinguish it from its surrounds or background.

Wayfinding sign

Tells you which way to go, confirms right path, and provide information about the path chosen.

Wall mounted sign

A single-face sign mounted on a wall

Weep hole

A small opening or hole in the bottom of a letter or a sign cabinet, placed at the lowest point to prevent water from accumulating in a unit.

Wind load

The basic term for describing the design strength of a sign. Standard windload is 30 PSF (pounds per square foot), which can withstand winds up to approximately 90 MPH. Heavy windload is 55 PSF, which can withstand approximately 110 MPH.

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