Glossary of terms

of terms

Keep scrolling

Helpful terms

To freely communicate your ideas and stay on the same track during production process we present you with the extensive glossary. No more "what do you mean?" when speaking to our managers!

Access doors

Hinged or removable doors located in the sign cabinet to provide access to the sign’s interior for servicing.


Once the most commonly used face material in outdoor illuminated signs. Unanimous choice for neon letter facings. Marketed under a variety of trade names such as plexiglas, acrylite, etc.

Advertising media

The means by which an advertising message is carried to potential customers; including internet, magazine, newspaper, radio, signage and television.


A term dealing with form, design, and/or quality of construction of a particular sign, building, site or structure, that presents a judgmental statement concerning the level of beauty or artistic value.


In terms relevant to signage and urban planning, it conveys the "Grace period" beginning on the date a sign owner is notified that removal of a previously conforming sign has been ordered, and ending on the date removal is required. This process makes a structure, which was legally erected with all permits, legally non-conforming for period of time. After an amortization period, the sign becomes illegal and non-conforming. Amortization has often been found to be a form of regulatory taking. The legality of amortization depends on state law and numerous other conditions, and is frequently unenforceable.

Anchor bolts

Large bolts, embedded in concrete, to secure the base plates of vertical support poles.

Animated sign

A sign depicting action, motion, light or color changes through electrical or mechanical means. Although technologically similar to flashing signs, the animated sign emphasizes graphics and artistic display.


An attention compelling system where by certain lighting components are made to either flash off and on in a continuing sequence or give the effect of moving or flowing.


A process frequently used on exposed aluminum components. It is a rich luster and adds greatly to its weathering properties when used on outdoor units. Anodized finishes may be clear or in a variety of colors.


A colorless gas used alone or mixed with neon gas, which is pumped under pressure into glass tubing used in the manufacture of signs.

Awning sign

A building mounted sign that provides additional functionality as shelter.

Backlighted letter

An illuminated reverse channel letter (open or translucent back) so light from the letter is directed against the surface behind the letter producing a halo lighting effect around the letter. Also referred to as silhouette lighted or halo lighted.


An electrical device required to operate fluorescent lamps.


A sign composed of lightweight material. Promotional banners include those used to announce open houses and grand openings, make special announcements, or communicate events. Ornamental banners use images or colors of a decorative nature.

Base cover

Any means of concealing a base plate.

Base pipe

The bottom support pipe when one or more smaller pipes are telescoped into it.

Base plate

The steel plate welded to the bottom of a steel pole when anchor bolts secure the pole.

Bench sign

A sign located on the seat or back of a bench or seat placed on or adjacent to a public right-of-way.

Between pole

Installation of freestanding sign by mounting between two ground poles.

Boom truck

Medium duty crane with medium lift capacity, usually with a 50 ft. to 85ft. reach.

Brand equity (Branding)

The intangible, but real, value of words, graphics or symbols that are associated with the products or services offered by a business. Developing branding of a site includes the presentation of signage and architecture to create a unique awareness and memory by the potential customer of the products or services offered at that site. Brand equity for a particular business is similar to the goodwill of an enterprise.

Bucket truck

Pick-up truck or van fitted with a light duty boom usually with a remote control bucket.

Building code

National, state and/or local regulations governing public health, welfare and safety of construction and maintenance.

Building fascia

That portion of any elevation of a building extending vertically from the grade to the top parapet wall or eaves, and horizontally across the entire width of the building elevation, including slanted wall surfaces sometimes referred to as a mansard.

Building mounted sign

A sign that is applied or attached to a building.


Acetate butyrate is its full name. An extruded sheet plastic available clear or transparent white. Available for both outdoor and indoor use. While less brittle than acrylics or polystyrene, butyrate is more costly than either. Being a “memory” plastic, it must be used with care in outdoor units. Because of its memory properties, large sign faces of butyrate must be deeply embossed to keep them firmly in place. Due to the resiliency it has a tendency to bow out and can be difficult to retain in the sign cabinet.

Cabinet sign

A sign structure consisting of the frame and face(s), not including the internal components, embellishments or support structure.


See marquee.

Canopy sign

1) a building-mounted sign functioning as a marquee. 2) a sign mounted on a marquee or canopy.


A method of installing outdoor signs to buildings unsupported by lifts or other guy wires.

Cast hinge

Hinge cast in aluminum to facilitate raising a sign face for access to sign’s interior.


Any of the various construction adhesives, consisting essentially of powdered, calcite rock and clay materials that form a paste with water and can be molded or poured to set a solid mass.

Center pole

A method of installing a sign without use of a building by attaching a ground pole to the center-bottom of the sign.

Certificate of insurance

Written proof of liability insurance coverage.

Changeable copy panel

A section of a sign that functions like a changeable copy sign.

Changeable copy sign (Variable message sign)

A sign on which message copy can be changed through the use of attachable letters and numerals, or by the electronic switching of lamps or illuminated tubes. This includes public message displays or any sign that features automatic switching, such as time and temperature signs.

Channel letter

Fabricated or formed three-dimensional letter that may accommodate a light source.


A configuration of electrical or electromagnetic components or devices.


An injection molded plastic housing containing any number of L.E.D.’s.

Coated tubing

Clear glass tubing, coated on the interior surface with phosphorus powder. Coated tubing produces a variety of different light colors, dependent upon the specific mixture of phosphorus powders utilized.

Cold cathode

1.) electric discharge lighting, which uses an electrode with a large metal mass to emit electrons. Neon tubing is a cold cathode type. 2.) generic term employed to specify custom interior lighting produced through the use of larger diameter cold cathode tubing.

Colored tubing

Transparent glass tubing manufactured with color pigments, typically color, examples include ruby red, canary yellow, green, and midnight blue.


A construction material consisting of conglomerate gravel, pebbles, broken stone, or slag in a mortar or cement mix.


Any enclosure of wires, either plastic or metal.

Conforming sign

A sign that is legally installed in accordance with federal, state, and local laws and ordinances.


The characteristics of the sign that enable an observer to differentiate the sign from its surrounding environment.

Content neutral

Time, place and manner regulations: consistently applicable non-discriminatory sign regulations that specify, without reference to the content of the message, when, how and where a sign can be displayed, with physical standards, such as but not limited to height, size and location, that allow the sign to be readable.


The difference or degree of difference between things having similar or comparable natures, such as light and dark areas, colors, or typefaces.

Controlled background

That area of a plastic sign face, which fills in between the periphery of an embossed logo plateau and the outer edge of the sign, thus adapting shaped logos to square or rectangular signs. Also a panel used behind reverse channel letters that is used to increase visibility.

Cool white

Refers to the color of a fluorescent lamp.


The words or message displayed on a sign.

Copy area

Areas that enclose the actual copy on a sign, which may be applied in a readable and printable manner.

Cost approach (Valuation)

An approach to estimating the value of real property whereby the appraiser determines the production cost of the property, minus any accrued depreciation. This approach does not merely include the hard costs of construction, but includes all soft costs such as interest, permits, and fees. In sign appraisal this concept includes the cost of replacing the message delivered to viewers.


A marketing term that refers to the percentage of the total market population reached by an advertising message displayed in a given medium; measured at least once a month.

Custom sign

A sign designed, manufactured and installed to meet the requirements of a specific location.


Refers to the color of a fluorescent lamp.


The opposite of embossing where elements are formed below the level of the background.


The opposite of lamination. Objects are separating or separated.


The relationship of the face area of a sign to its weight, used by common carriers for determination of applicable shipping rates.

Design 50

Fluorescent lamps manufactured by Osram Sylvania, Inc. Refers to the color.

Dimensional letter

A specification description of a letter, logo or symbol, cut out, cast, molded or fabricated in material such as metal or plastic to create a raised condition.

Directional sign

Signs designed to provide direction to pedestrian and vehicular traffic

Directory sign

A 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.

Disconnect/ ON-OFF switch

Factory or field installed on sign to turn sign on or off, mandatory to comply with some building codes.


A procedure for the pre-determined distorting of copy on flat plastic sheet so that it will be of proper configuration when plastic face is thermoformed into a pan.

Double backs

A term related to neon signs produced for installation inside channel letters, on thick concrete or brick surfaces where landlords prohibit the excessive hole-drilling necessary to recess P.K. Housings.

Double-faced sign

A sign with two parallel opposing (back-to-back) faces.

Drain holes

Holes placed in the bottom of sign cabinets to allow rainwater to drain thereby reducing the possibility of electrical shortages from lamps or ballasts.

Drilled footing

A sign pole foundation that is circular but very deep. Example: 5’ diameter x 15’ deep.


An area of land reserved for future use by utilities, I.E., electric, water, sewer.

Egg crate

A material, usually plastic, and usually injection molded in a criss-cross pattern made up of many square openings. Used to diffuse down lighting and/or to prevent bird nesting.

Electric sign

Any sign containing or using electrical wiring.

Electronic message center

Variable message sign that utilizes computer-generated messages or some other electronic means of changing copy. These signs include displays using incandescent lamps, L.E.D.’s, L.C.D.’s or a flipper matrix.


A manufacturing technique referring to form plastic faces where on certain letters, logos, or illustrations are elevated above the level of the background.

Exterior illuminated sign

A sign that is illuminated by a light source that is directed towards, and shines on the face of a sign. Also called direct illumination.


A continuous section of material with a consistent cross section requiring a special die to produce. Extrusions used in sign manufacture are most generally of aluminum or plastic.


Extruded aluminum with cross section resembling the letter “f” used to secure a plastic sign face in sign.


The surface area on a sign where advertising copy is displayed.

Fair market approach

One of three appraisal approaches. The highest price at which a property could be sold given a reasonable exposure period in the market. The price is arrived at by a willing seller and willing buyer, neither being under duress to act.

Fascia sign

A sign mounted flat onto a wall.

Fiber optic message centers

With these signs, a series of fiber optic lines are run to the face of the sign and are mixed with a reflective material to use in the daytime and the fiber optic supplies the illumination at night. A mechanical flip disc is used to illuminate either the reflective material or the light. Computer aided and used mostly at night.

First surface

The front or #1 surface of a plastic-faced sign and relates to where copy is applied to the face.

Flag mount

Refers to a sign where the end of the sign is attached flush to a single ground pole, or perpendicular to a wall without guy wires thereby resembling a flag on a flagpole.


This is a test usually performed with a crane suspending a target to obtain optimum visibility needs.


Generally refers to the outside flat edge formed plastic face by which it is retained to the case of a molding.

Flashing sign

A sign with an intermittent or flashing light source. Generally, the sign's message is constantly repeated, and the sign is most often used as a primary attention-getting device. Government highway departments frequently use flashing signs to improve highway safety.

Flat cutout letter

A dimensional letter cut from sheet or plate stock.

Flexible vinyl

A tough durable fabric substrate developed for use as a sign face material or covering illuminated awnings. Generally secured under tension into sign cabinets or over awning structure. Material can be decorated by screen process, heat transfer methods or mask and spray.

Fluorescent lamp or tube

Electric-discharge lighting utilizing glass tubing manufactured to standard lengths.


A set of letters, numerals, and shapes, which conform to a specific set of design criteria.


The concrete base anchoring a sign support pole or poles.

Freestanding sign

A sign that is not attached to a building.


The commercial transportation of goods.

Freight discount

Discount from standard published freight cost allowed by carrier.

Freight terms

Prepaid, collect, 3rd party billing, F.O.B. dock, F.O.B. destination.


The average number of times an individual has the opportunity to see an advertising message during a defined period of time. Typically measured over a four-week period.

Front lighted letter

An illuminated channel letter with translucent face.

Full service sign companies

Sign companies that complete the entire signage project, including surveying, designing, engineering, permitting, manufacturing, installing, and maintaining signs.


Extruded aluminum with cross section somewhat resembling the letter ”g” with a long “tail”.


Coating iron or steel with rust-resistant zinc.

Ground sign

A freestanding sign with no visible support structure.


A concrete-like material placed between a base plate and the concrete foundation on which it sits.

Guy wire

A braided steel cable used to secure signage to a flat surface.

H channel letter

A dimensional letter with baffles at the center of the cross-sectional shape for support of neon tubing and mounting of transformers.


An aluminum extrusion with a cross section resembling the letter “h” is used to join the flanges of sign faces when two or more face panels are being used in a sign.

Half tones

When copy is applied to a sign face with a series of dots as opposed to solid color. Reproducing a photograph, for example, would require half tones.

Hand holes

Opening in cabinet permitting hand access to sign interior.

High output

Refers to outdoor sign fluorescent lighting systems powered by at least 800 ma ballast.

High-rise sign

A tall freestanding sign.

Hot spots

Those areas of a sign face where the light is unusually bright caused by poor diffusion and/ or placement of lamps too close to the face.

Hydro crane

Heavy-duty crane with heavy lift capacity with 100ft. reach.


International sign association.


Usually refers to that portion of copy, which relates solely to the dealer displaying the sign, generally their name or trade style. Obviously imprints must be individually applied and generally are accomplished after the advertiser copy has been printed in quantity production.

Incandescent bulb

A lamp that produces light through the application of electrical energy to a wire filament, which glows as it is heated.

Incandescent message centers

These signs use 5- or 10-watt wedge base lamps of various intensities.

Injection molding

A process used to achieve specially shaped or contoured plastic components or sign faces. Requires expensive tooling but produces a uniform, low cost component for large quantity production runs.

Inner ring

When a ground support pole, for a sign, consists of more than one size (diameter) of pipe, where the smaller pipe recesses into a longer pipe, a steel ring is welded around the smaller pipe, and plug welded to the larger pipe to prevent the smaller pipe from rocking back and forth.


Measurement of the brightness of sign face illumination. Generally accepted usage is 1000 lumens per square foot of a face.

Interior signs

Signs that are located inside a building or other facility.

Internal frame

The chassis of outdoor signs generally fabricated of formed and welded steel channels, angles, and bars.

Internally illuminated sign

A sign that is illuminated by a light source that is contained inside the sign.

Just compensation

The full monetary value to be paid for property taken by the government in accordance with the fifth amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Just compensation is generally determined by obtaining an appraisal.

Kick backs

Bracing placed behind a single face roof- mounted sign to position the sign in a vertical position.


A semi-conductor diode that converts applied D.C. Voltage to light. (Light Emitting Diode)

Lag bolts and shields

Fasteners use to secure signs, guy wires, etc., to concrete, stone, or brick surfaces.

Lamp bank

Set of fluorescent lamps wired to common ballast.


The sockets used on fluorescent lighting for supporting the lamp and transmitting electrical power from ballast to lamp.


The characteristics of letters, numbers, graphics, or symbols that make it possible to differentiate one from the other.

Listed sign

A sign labeled to indicate that it conforms to a standard published by a national recognized testing laboratory.


A design that represents goods, identity or service.

Mall signage

A wide variety of typical on-premise sign types located within the interior of a multi-tenant building or mall.

Manual on uniform traffic control devices (MUTCD)

This manual establishes minimum standards of placement that a sign must achieve to accomplish readability and conspicuity. The manual covers a range of traffic control devices; specifically signs, which it breaks into three categories-guide signs, warning signs, and directional signs. It is based on the principle that signage deficiencies cause traffic accidents.

Manually changeable copy signs

These signs typically use fluorescent lamps to illuminate the interior of a sign and have fixed letters where the message is developed on the panel and are changed by hand.


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.

Mask & spray

A system for decorating plastic faces on single lot basis using sprayed latex as a mask or stencil and applying color with a spray gun.

Master sign plan

When securing a zoning approval, for a large tract of land and planned urban development (P.U.D), a master sign plan or a uniform sign plan may be required for all proposed businesses.

Match plate

A steel plate, with holes, which is welded to the top of a supporting steel pole. Holes in the bottom of the sign are lined up with those in the match plate and the two are bolted together.

Menu board

A variable message sign that allows a retailer to list products and prices. For example, the bill of fare for a fast food restaurant.

Mercury vapor lamps

Lamps designed primarily for use in general lighting applications where good efficiency and long life are desired and colored rendering requirements are moderate. Applications include street lighting, industrial hi-bay, parking lot lighting, and general floodlighting.

Message area

The area within the sign panel describing the limits of the message.

Message center

An electronically or mechanically variable message sign enabling changes to be made from locations other than at the sign. (See also variable message sign.)

Metal halide lamps

Lamps designed for general lighting applications where good color and high efficiency are desired for applications such as commercial, industrial lighting and outdoor flood lighting.


A system creating larger signs by attaching smaller units one to another.

Monument sign

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


National electric code.


National electric sign association, the previous name of the international sign association (ISA).

Negative wind load

Occurs when the wind is receding from the sign.


A colorless gas used alone or mixed with argon gas, which is pumped under pressure into glass tubing used in the manufacture of neon signs.

Neon sign

A sign manufactured utilizing neon tubing, which is visible to the viewer.

Neon tubing

Electric discharge, cold cathode tubing manufactured into shapes that form letters, parts of letters, skeleton tubing, outline lighting, and other decorative elements or art forms, in various colors and diameters and filled with inert gases.

Non-conforming sign

A sign that was legally installed or modified in accordance with federal, state and local laws, ordinances and approvals in affect at the time of installation or last significant modification, but does not comply with laws or ordinances enacted subsequent to that time.

Off center pole

A supporting steel pole that attaches to the bottom of the sign cabinet other than in the center.

Off-premise sign

Any sign that is not appurtenant to the use of the property, a product sold, or the sale or lease of the property on which it is displayed, and that does not identify the place of business as purveyor of the merchandise, services, etc., advertised upon the sign. Also known as outdoor advertising.

On-premise sign

A communication device whose message and design relates to a business, an event, goods, profession or service being conducted, sold or offered on the same property as where the sign is erected.


Any surface impervious to the transmission of light.

Open channel letter

A dimensional letter that has no face and, if illuminated with the light source visible. A clear face for physical protection of internal components may be used.

Outer ring

When a ground support pole consists of more than one size, a ring is welded on the outside of where two poles are connected to prevent water from getting into the larger pole.

P.K. Housing

A device much like a socket (for fluorescent signs) used in neon signs to allow electrodes to be placed in walls and connect with conduit and containing a spring-loaded contact permitting the electrode in neon tubing to make contact with the GTO wire leading to the transformer.

POP (point of purchase)

Signage that advertises a product at its point of purchase.


Pounds per square inch.

Painted wall sign

See building mounted sign.

Pan channel letter

A dimensional letter that is constructed with side walls, back and a face making the letter a solid integral unit with the side walls and back having a pan-shaped cross section.

Pan face

A plastic sign face molded into a three dimensional shape. Also called molded face, molded and embossed face, molded and debossed face.


A trade name for egg crate sign material.

Parapet sign

A sign mounted on top of the parapet of a building. (see building mounted sign.)

Permanent sign

A sign attached to a building, structure, or the ground in a manner that enables the sign to resist environmental loads, such as wind, and precludes ready removal or movement of the sign.


A certificate issued by the pertinent political subdivision allowing signs to be legally installed under the existing building code.


A device, activated by natural light, to turn signs on and off automatically.

Photographic screen

Required when copy contains half tones or when copy is very small and/or intricate, rendering it impossible to accurately hand cut.


A sign pole foundation that is secured by driving pilings into the soil. Usually used in sandy soil or where water table is high.

Point-of-purchase sign

Signage that advertises a product at its point of sale, or "Point of purchase" location.

Pole or pylon cover

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

Pole sign

A freestanding sign with visible support structure.


The plastic most commonly used today in fabricating outdoor sign faces. Extremely high impact strength (30 times greater than acrylic). Manufactured under Lexan and Tuffac brand names. Solar grade Lexan carries a five-year warranty against yellowing.


The plastic most commonly used in indoors signs. Ideal for sign faces and clock dials.

Portable sign

A sign not permanently attached to the ground or building, with a power-cord for connection to an electrical source, and readily removable using ordinary hand tools.

Positive windload

Occurs as the winds strike the sign head-on.

Post and panel sign

An unlighted sign fabricated by using one or more visible posts to support the sign body.

Post screening

Printing of copy by screen process printing onto plastic sheet after the sheet has been thermoformed.

Powder coat

A process whereby pigment is applied electro statically to a metal surface and is then baked on for permanence.


Printing of copy by screen process printing onto plastic sheet while it is still flat before thermoforming.

Primer coat

A base coat of paint applied over steel aluminum to “seal” the metal from oxidizing before the final coat of paint is applied.

Projecting sign

A building mounted sign with the faces of the sign perpendicular to the building fascia.


A letter or logo cut out of a backing material that is as thick or thicker than the sign face material, and mounted on the inside of the sign face so that the backing material’s thickness extends flush with or through and beyond the front plane of the sign face.

Pylon sign

A freestanding sign with visible support structure or with the support structure enclosed with a pole cover.


An electrical enclosure that may also serve as a mounting structure for the sign.

Radius corners

A sign with rounded corners.


The quality that enables the observer to correctly perceive the message.


Steel reinforcing rods in concrete sign pole foundation.

Rebar mats

Angle iron or rebar welded or wired together for concrete foundation reinforcement.


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

Recessed opening

An opening in a building designed to allow a sign to be installed with the cabinet recessed into the front surface of the building.


Refers to the ability of a viewer to identify the message

Reflective message centers

These types of signs use fluorescent lamps to illuminate reflective material on each pixel. Pixels are turned or "Flipped" mechanically to reveal the reflective material. (these are also called flip disc signs.)

Regulatory sign

A sign having the primary purpose of conveying information concerning rules, ordinances or laws.


A framing member mounted around the perimeter of a sign face, and attached to the sign cabinet structure. It is designed to attach the face to the cabinet and/or intended to provide a decorating trim piece.


The sides of a channel letter.


An indented detail on a sign.

Reverse channel letter

A fabricated dimensional letter with opaque face and sidewalls.

Rights of way

The land between the highway and the property line where no signs are permitted.

Roof sign

A building mounted sign erected on the roof of a building.

Safety harness

A protective harness worn by workers on a boom truck, bucket truck, or hydro crane.

Sag rods

Diagonally mounted cylindrical steel rods used internally on large signs to prevent the middle section from sagging.

Scissor lift

A lift truck whose platform raises or lowers by means of arms that move in a scissor-like fashion.

Screen process

The method of applying colors (paints) to plastic sign faces. Consists of nylon screen tightly stretched and secured over a wood frame. A pattern is cut out of pliable plastic on a heavy film base. After applying a solvent coating to this material, it is pressed up into the nylon screen and forms a mask. Paint is placed on the screen and squeegees across the screen, forcing paint through open areas onto plastic. A separate screen and operation is necessary to apply each color.

Scrolling plastic messages

This type of sign has a thin plastic roll in the sign that can be changed mechanically or by automation to add a new message.

Second surface

The underside or #2 surface of a plastic faced sign and relates to where copy is applied to the face.

Service truck

Pick-up truck or van fitted with a light duty boom usually with a remote control bucket.

Set back

Distance required by government agency that a permanent structure must be set back from the property line.


A decorative (usually aluminum or sheet metal) cover to hide steel support poles.

Sidewalk/sandwich sign

A moveable sign not secured or attached to the ground or surface upon which it is located, but supported by its own frame and most often forming the cross-sectional shape of an a.

Sight triangle

An area where signage is restricted to prevent visual obstruction.


Any visual display with words or symbols designed to convey information or attract attention.

Sign band

A horizontal area above a multi-tenants’ building’s entrances, architecturally designed to accommodate signage in a sign centric manner.

Sign centric design

Building architectural design, which makes the signage the prominent visual feature.

Sign face

The area of a sign on which copy is intended to be placed.


A system of signs.

Signature building

Architectural design of a building or structure that reinforces signage.

Silk screening

Silk or nylon stretched tightly on a frame used to transfer paint to plastic sign face by means of a squeegee.

Single-face sign

A sign with only one face plane.


A liquid latex-like material used as a mask for mask & spray face decoration.

Spread footing

A sign pole foundation that is long but very shallow. Example 5’ deep x 20’ long. Typically used in areas with poor soil conditions or solid rock.


Another name for the peripheral enclosure of a sign cabinet, intended to keep the plastic faces “spread” or spaced apart.

Stage pipe

When the supportive steel consists of two or more sections.


Small cylindrical electrical device necessary to the operation of pre-heat type fluorescent lamps for indoor units. As its name implies, the starter’s sole function is to assist in the arching of the fluorescent lamp and, once illuminated, the starter’s job is completed until the lamp has been extinguished and then re-lighted.

Stationary sign

A sign with a power-cord for attachment to a source of electrical power that is not readily moveable or portable.

Street furniture

Advertising displays, many which provide a public amenity, positioned at close proximity to pedestrians for eye-level viewing or at a curbside to reach vehicular traffic. An example is a bench sign.

Stub pipe

A section of pipe coming out the bottom of a sign, which recesses, into another larger pipe, which is embedded in a concrete foundation.

Sun dial

An electronic timer.

Swing mounting

A method of installing outdoors signs which permits them to have limited movement reaction to wind. It involves horizontal pipe fastened to the building and the sign hung from it by means of steel hooks attached to the top of the sign cabinet.

Target audience

The profile of the most desired consumer prospects for a product or service, listed by characteristics such as demography, lifestyle, brand or media consumption, purchase behavior, etc. This is common to all media.

Temporary sign

Any sign not intended for permanent installation, such as banners and signs at construction sites. They may be incidental or miscellaneous in nature, such as political and real estate signs.

Thermoforming (or vacuum forming)

The process used to transform a flat plastic sheet into a sign face with dimension (embossed copy, etc). It requires some type of heating element to heat plastic to proper forming temperature, a vacuum pump to draw the hot plastic into or over the mold, and the mold used to achieve the desired configuration in the finished face. Thermoforming has the advantage of low tooling costs making relatively short runs practical.

Thru bolt

When a single face sign is being mounted to a wall that is too soft or porous to hold lag bolts. The sign is secured by bolts, which run all the way through the wall and are fitted with washers and nuts.

Time and temperature display

A variable message sign which displays current time and temperature in a stationary or alternating manner. Some also display simple messages.

Time, place and manner regulations

Consistently applicable non-discriminatory sign regulations that specify, without reference to the content of the message, when, how and where a sign can be displayed, with physical standards, such as but not limited to height, size and location, that allow the sign to be readable.

Timer or time clock

Devices that are pre-set to turn signs on and off at prescribed times.

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. The trade area for most small businesses is 3 to 5 miles.


Used by a business to distinguish itself and its products from the competition. A trademark may include a name, symbol, word or combination of those. Protected by the federal government and considered to have financial value. The circled "R" or "Reg. T.M." printed with the mark indicates that it is a registered trademark. See united states trademark act 15 U.S.C. Section 1127 (1988).


Electrical equipment that converts input voltage and current to a different output voltage and current.


Any surface transmitting light but causing sufficient diffusion to eliminate perception of distinct images.

Tri-or multi- vision faces

These are signs where an individual face is cut and placed on a mechanical device with multiple sides that change and then return to create a uniform system.


A program under which the sign supplier designs, manufactures, delivers, and installs outdoor signs.

Twin pole mounting

A method of installing outdoor signs (usually larger sizes) on top of two ground poles.


Extruded aluminum with cross section assembling the letter “u”.


An abbreviation for underwriters laboratories, inc., a nationally recognized testing laboratory.

Under-canopy sign

Sign (designed to be mounted) underneath a canopy.

Variable message sign

A sign that includes provisions for message changes. Also called changeable copy panel, changeable copy sign, time and temperature sign, electronic message center, menu board.


Special administrative procedure by which one may obtain an exception to zoning rules such as height, setback and type of use.


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

Wall sign

A building mounted sign. (See also fascia sign.)


Enabling a person to find his or her way to a given destination thru the use of effective signage.

Wind loading

The capability to resist wind pressure to a satisfactory degree. On outdoor signs 30 lbs. per sq. ft. Is considered the practical minimum. Must be greater in hurricane areas.

Window sign

A sign that is displayed in a window. Usually hanging from light chains and has a 3 wire cord for a standard 110 outlet.