Acrylic: Although sometimes used as a generic term to describe plastics, acrylic is a particular type of plastic characterized by its clarity and colorability.

Airbrush: A device utilizing compressed air to generate a fine spray of paint. As air passes through the head of the airbrush, a vacuum is created, siphoning the paint up from its container. Airbrushes come in a variety of sizes with different heads and tips depending on the use.

Banner: A sign made of fabric, plastic or other non-rigid material which has no enclosing framework. May be painted, screen-printed, digitally printed or decorated with vinyl.

Brushed finish: A non-glossy, textured finish applied to metal for decorative purposes.

Bulletin colors: Specially prepared enamel paints preferred by many sign painters for hand-lettering. Bulletin colors are formulated to cover well, dry quickly and maintain their colors under outdoor conditions.

Corrugated board: A board created by gluing a corrugated piece to a flat face, or between two flat faces. Although corrugated board is made from a variety of materials and comes in a range of strengths and thicknesses, the most common corrugated board used in sign work is made of plastic.

Design: At its simplest, a synonym for layout. Many sign artists take the idea further, however, and say design is the process involved in creating a sign from the time the job is assigned until the actual manufacturing begins, and includes conceptualizing the idea, choosing the colors, typefaces, and graphics and then arranging them in a way that is most effective for catching viewer attention and conveying the client's message.

Directional sign: Signs designed to provide direction to travelers. While a directional sign may be considered any on-premise sign that provides such information, the Highway Beautification Act sets guidelines for the size, placement and content of true directionalsigns.

Directory sign: An on-premise sign that identifies the names and locations of tenants in a multi-tenant building, or in a development made up of a group of buildings. The information in a directory typically may include company logos, but no advertising copy.

Double face: A sign with two parallel but opposing faces; a back-to-back sign. See single face.

Epoxy: A common form of glue that creates strong adhesion between substrates.

Facade: The front or principal entrance of a building.

Face: The decorated surface of a sign; the area on which the copy and art is placed.

Fascia sign: A flat sign that is mounted on a wall and whose face runs parallel to it. A fascia sign may project from the wall on which it is mounted. See wall sign.

Flag: A piece of plastic or cloth, usually square or rectangular in shape and suspended by its top or one side. It may or may not be decorated; most often used as a temporary attention-getting device.

Foam board: A type of lightweight, rigid board used for interior signs. Foam boards consist of a foam center sheet laminated on one or both sides by a variety of substrates.

Font: Refers to the style and width of a particular design of letters, numbers and symbols, such as Helvetica Bold or Times Roman. Until the development of the computerand scalable fonts, references to fonts also included the size, such as 10-point.

Footing: The projecting base of a sign pole or pylon, including the portion that is buriedin the ground.

Gilding: Considered by many to be the highest form of sign art, gilding is the application of thin metal sheets (see gold leaf) to glass, signs and vehicles. After the work surface is clean and the design is marked out, a gelatin sizing is brushed on the area to be gilded. The gold leaf is then carried to the work site through the use of a gilder's tip and static electricity. After the entire area is dry, the gold leaf is burnished and holes and imperfections in the gild are filled. The final step is painting the backs of the letters (and an outline) if the gild is reversed on a window, or outlining them if it is a direct gild.

Gold leaf: Literally, gold manufactured into thin leaves; the gold used in gilding. Gold leaf comes between sheets of tissue, with each leaf 3 3/8" square. The leaves are packaged in books of 25, and a cardboard box of 20 books is sold as a pack. Gold leaf comes in a range of colors and karats, with 14-18 karat for use on interior applications, such as glass. The best gold leaf, 23 karat, is reserved for exterior work on vehicles and signs.

Ground sign: A free-standing sign that is mounted on poles or braces, without any secondary support.

Hanging sign: A double-face sign which hangs from a bracket or support and projects from a wall, building or pole. Also called a projecting sign.

Header: A separate board above the rest of a sign that gives it a headline or contains a different advertising message for the same product. Most often seen with point-of-purchase advertising.

High-density Urethane (HDU): A type of hard foam product used in sign production. Urethane has the density and characteristics of wood, but only one-third of the weight. It can be used for carving and sandblasting signs much like wood.

Identification sign: A sign giving the business' name only for purposes of identification. An identification sign can also be one provided by an advertiser with his name and/or slogan, as well as that of the business displaying the sign.

Kiosk: A small structure used for posting temporary signs and notices. May be portable or permanent.

Lacquer: A type of clear finishing material similar to varnish and preferred by signmakers because of its abilities to dry quickly and not be affected by the presence of dust. May also be used as a binder with pigments such as silver dust.

Laminate: A process by which different materials are layered and then bonded together using adhesion. The end result may be the creation of a substrate: such as medium-density overlay (MDO) -- or the protection of the underlying surface, as when a clear, plastic film is laminated to a decorated surface.

Legibility: The quality of a sign's typefaces that allows it to be easily read and deciphered. See readability.

Logo: An often-stylized group of letters, words or symbols used to represent a business or product. The use of a company's logo is regulated by the federal government .

Magnetic sheeting: Magnetized strip laminated to a flexible plastic sheet and sold in rolls. Cut to size and decorated, magnetic sheeting works well as temporary signs for vehicles.

Medium-density overlay (MDO): A type of plywood considered an ideal base for paint and recommended for signs. MDO is an exterior-grade plywood with an average veneer on both sides.

Memorial sign: A building sign or plaque noting such information as the name of the building, when it was built and by whom.

Menu board: A changeable point-of-purchase advertising display that allows the retailer to list products and prices.

Molding: The material: usually wood -- framing a billboard.

Outline/inline: In computer graphics, a closed-loop path that copies an original's shape, but is offset by a positive measurement outside the original (outline), or a negative measurement inside the original (inline).

Pantone(r) Matching System (PMS): Standardized series of thousands of colors, each with specific color formulations and identification number. PMS colors are duplicated in swatch books and in computer-graphics programs to allow exact duplication of colors in printing and other marking processes, such as signmaking.

Pictorial: A picture on a sign that does not involve animation. Common pictorials can range from one-color graphic symbols and posterized pictures to full-color scenics and portraits.

Plexiglas: A trade name for a brand of acrylic sheeting, often used as a generic term for acrylic.

Plywood: A common type of wood product sold in 4' x 8' sheets. Plywood is made of a number of thin sheets of wood laminated together with the grain of the adjacent layers perpendicular, except for the two outside plies, which are parallel to provide stability.

Point-of-purchase advertising: In-store advertising designed to sell more and different products to shoppers once they are in the 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. Even the placement of items for sale -- such as having candy at children's eye level or snacks across from the video display -- is considered a part of point-of-purchase advertising. Also known as point-of-sale advertising.

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

Polycarbonate: A type of plastic used in sign faces, noted for its heat-resistance andimpact strength.

Polypropylene: A type of plastic used in banners, noted for its flexibility at low temperatures and its resistance to chemicals.

Portable sign: A freestanding, on-premise sign which is not designed to be permanently affixed to a base.

Poster: A series of paper sheets printed for use on a billboard. Also, a sign typically printed on paper and intended for indoor use. Other substrates used for posters include plastic and cloth.

Projecting sign: A sign which is attached to a building but extends beyond the building structure. Regulators often set a predetermined distance that a sign must extend beyond a building for it to be considered a projecting sign. A decorated awning is an example of a projecting sign.

PVC:Polyvinyl chloride, the most common plastic in use in the world. PVC is extruded or cast as sheets in a variety of colors and thicknesses which are weather and chemical resistant.

Pylon: Any free-standing sign that is not a pole or ground sign.

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

Regulatory signs: Signs installed by various government bodies to acquaint the public with traffic laws and other regulations.

Relief: The projection of art from a flat surface. Relief images can be created in a number of ways, from cut-outs to sandblasting.

Roof sign: A sign structure that is erected on or above the roof, or that is installed directly on the roof's surface.

Routing: Elimination of material in a substrate, using a tool bit machined to remove material. In computerized signmaking, a tool is programmed to eliminate material along a tool path created along X, Y and Z axes.

Sandblasting: A method for decorating glass or wood. A rubberized stencil of the artwork is either hand- or computer-cut and applied to the substrate, which is then sprayed with a pressurized stream of sand or synthetic particles to texture the areas unprotected by the stencil. Once the desired depth has been achieved on the item being blasted, the stencil is removed, and if on wood, the surfaces may be painted.

Sans serif: Any font or typeface that lacks serifs. In most sans serif fonts, there is littledifferentiation between the width of strokes within the letter. Helvetica and Futura arefamiliar sans serif fonts.

Screen printing: Historically one of the oldest and simplest forms of printing. A print is made by using a squeegee to force ink through a stencil or emulsion that's supported by fabric stretched over a frame to create a screen. Although also referred to as silk screening, several synthetic fabrics have replaced silk as the fabric of choice for screen printers.

Script: Refers to several typefaces which appear much like handwriting. The maincharacteristic of script is that most or all of the letters touch each other.

Serif: A small line or embellishment finishing off the strokes of letters in some fonts.Well-known serif fonts include Souvenir, Times Roman and Garamond.

Shadow:Duplication of an image that's slightly offset. Drop shadow is a simple copyand offset; block shadow joins the outlines of the original and duplicate to create a3D-relief effect; and cast alters the shape and size of the duplicate to imitate shadows castfrom varied placement of light, as the sun does on a sundial.

Sheet metal: Aluminum or steel in sheets or plates used as a sign substrate.

Showcard: An interior sign utilizing a card stock substrate and often decorated withtempera paints. The standard showcard size is 28" x 44".

Sign: Any devise, 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 forthe purposes of advertising, identifying or communicating information about goods and services.

Silhouette: The overall shape of a sign, or a block of copy within a sign.

Single-face: A sign consisting of one face, rather than back-to-back ones.

Sizing: The substance applied to the substrate before gilding in order to make the gold leaf stick to the work surface, and its application. Today, the most common sizing used by glass gilders is gelatin capsules dissolved in boiling water and then strained.

Substrate: The material out of which the face is made. Wood, metal sheeting, paper and acrylic are all sign substrates.

Temporary sign: Any sign which is not intended to be permanently installed. Banners and signs at construction sites are good examples of temporary signs. Often, sign codes seek to limit the length of time a temporary sign can be in place.

Thumbnail: A type of rough sketch. Some sign artists prepare several thumbnail sketches of a job, varying their layouts and fonts, before preparing one or two more-complete ideas to take to a client.

Typeface:The design of a given set of letters, numbers and symbols, without reference to size or width. See font.

Vinyl: Polyvinylchloride (PVC) film that, in signmaking, is backed with an adhesive that will create a strong bond to a surface when pressure is applied.

Wall sign: In the most literal sense, a sign that is painted on a wall. The term is oftenexpanded to include flat signs that are placed on or attached to the wall of a building. Seefascia sign.

Wall mount: A single-face sign mounted on a wall. Another name for a wall sign.

Wayfinding: A word that has gained popularity with the adoption of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In its most literal sense, wayfinding is the ability of a person to find his or her way to a given destination. While the words and graphics on a building's signs are important to the process, wayfinding also depends on the information inherent in a building's design. To create truly successful wayfinding, architects and environmental graphic designers need to work in close partnership to integrate both elements.

Weed: Process of peeling extraneous vinyl (or matrix) away from a plotter cut, leaving only the sections representing the final image. Pulling the extra vinyl away in one quick stroke is known as rip weeding.

Window sign: A sign that is mounted for display on a window, and intended to be viewed from the outside.