Glosary of Sinage and Terminology

Clients Testimonials

" Outstanding design and service. They delivered with professionalism and efficiency "
by George, "Buffalo Wings & Rings- South Beach"

" ADG provided our company with different sketches and materials for our corporate signage. The results were extraordinary and under budget "
by Robert Silverstein, "Silverstein Architecture"

" Fast delivery & great service: I will recommend this company, I did my front store sign at the Boca Raton mall and I am glad I found this company it is fast in delivery and great in design and price "
by David Stevens, "European Fashion"

" Outstanding work! Every storefront sign should be like ours". Grazie per tutto ADG, the Giorgio Armani Store

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Listed below are terms commonly used in signage and wayfinding. please visit our portfolio for detail of services.


Acrylic - It is often used as a generic term for plastics used in sign making, acrylic is a type of plastic characterized by clarity, both transparent and opaque color ranges, and paintability. It can also be shaped by machine easily. Cast and extruded acrylics have different qualities and tolerances. (Plexiglas® and ACRYLITE® are well-known proprietary trade names.)



ADA - The Americans with Disabilities Act. This legislation was enacted by the federal government in 1991 to remove barriers that limit an individual's ability to function in the physical environment. Title III of the ADA deals with signs.


Aluminum - A common light metal used in sign panels, poles and frames. Most of our exterior signs are fabricated from Aluminum.



Architectural Signage - A term coined in the 1960s to identify visual communications and wayfinding information in the built environment. These include physical enhancements to a building or space that are designed to identify or communicate information.



Backlit Sign - A sign consisting of a cabinet containing a light source surrounded by one or more translucent faces, which may be illuminated for visibility. See also internally illuminated sign.



Backplate - The back panel of our modular interior signage system. Most often this is made from styrene although we also use acrylic and other materials when needed.



Bid Package Documents - Documents containing general conditions and "boilerplate" language needed for competitive bidding. These documents typically describe the design intent, fabrication, materials, and installation, and include formal bidding forms and instructions.



Breakaway Foundation - A sign pole and foundation system where the pole detaches cleanly from the foundation upon impact. Required by many state highway authorities.



Cap Height - The height from the baseline to the top of the uppercase letters in a font. This measurement is used to help determine the legibility of a font from a distance or when viewed at different speeds.



Channel Letter - The outline of a letter, with metal sides or "returns," into which a neon or LED light source is placed. The channel depth may vary depending on the viewing angle. The letter may be open-faced, plastic-faced, or a reverse channel letter with halo illumination. Symbols and logos can also be constructed this way to produce similar lighting effects.



Code Compliant Signage - see regulatory signs.


Design Intent Drawings - Drawings that show the size, profile, dimensions and basic relationship of parts (including custom symbols, typography and color palette). These drawings are usually provided as part of the bid package from which the selected fabricator develops shop drawings and/or prototypes to define and confirm specific design and engineering details.


Destination List - Identifies the destinations to be used in wayfinding sign messaging. This document can be used to help determine exact wording for a destination and abbreviations that may be required on direction-giving message signs where line length and letter height dictate the length of the message.


Digital Insert - An insert created using a large format 4-color printer and a vinyl substrate with a protective laminate. These are most often used when we cannot achieve the desired insert graphic using cut and applied vinyl or when screen printing is cost prohibitive. Examples include photography


Dimensional Letters and Logos - Solid letters usually mounted directly or stud mounted to a wall or soffit. Dimensional letters are made from a variety of materials. Thickness can vary depending on the application with the most common being ¼", ½", ¾" and 1". Finished can range from any paint color to a variety of laminates or solid surface materials.


Electronic Artwork - Digital data and artwork files used to produce signs and graphic elements.


Extrusion - A part that's created by forcing a raw material (usually metal or plastic) through a die to create the desired shape. Often used to refer to the extruded aluminum members that make up the frames of signs and awnings. Most of our exterior signs and our interior convex plus line are fabricated from aluminum extrusions.


Fabricate - To manufacture a sign or major sign components from raw materials or parts. Some common steps in the fabrication process include cutting (routing, water-jet cutting, laser cutting, etc.), welding, grinding, machining, riveting, bending, rolling, sanding, polishing, taping, and painting.


Faceplate - This typically refers to the acrylic sign face of our interior sign systems. Both our signature system and convex plus system use faceplates with the convex faceplate being a removable component.


Fiberglass Embedment - A method of placing text, maps and other graphics under a clear surface for use in outdoor signage, where the graphics are embedded in glass-fiber-reinforced polyester resin.


Floor Plans - Refers to the architectural drawings of each floor of a building.


Footing - The base of a sign pole or pylon, including the portion that is buried in the ground. The footing bears all of the weight of the sign, keeping it straight and true while anchoring it against overturning. Normally engineered to withstand wind gusts of 90 miles per hour or more depending on geographic region. Also called "Foundation."


Grade 1 Braille - A Braille format that includes only the letters of the alphabet, numbers, and a few punctuation marks.


Grade 2 Braille - Grade 2 Braille includes more characters and character combinations representing contractions of certain words and word components such as "the" and "ation." Care must be taken to translate Grade 2 Braille correctly, using a computer-based or other translation program.


Halo Illumination - A form of internal illumination using channel letters and a hidden light source behind the letters, which produces a glow around the letter edges.


Insert - The changeable part of interior sign systems. Them most common insert material is calendared vinyl with applied vinyl letters. We also create inserts using digial printing when needed to achieve certain colors, shading or photographic images and screen printing when large numbers of the same messages are needed.


Internally Illuminated Sign - A sign lighted by internal electric fixtures or lamp banks. See also backlit sign.


Landmarks - Features that "stand out" from the environment around them so that we can positively identify them. In wayfinding they give us a fix of our position in our mental map of an area. There are two kinds of landmarks: those we remember and can describe in advance (active landmarks), and those we recognize only when we see them (passive landmarks).


LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) Sign - A type of changeable copy sign using crystals that turn opaque or clear when exposed to a controlled voltage. Although LCDs are most common in calculators and digital watches, they are also used in some time and temperature displays.


LED (Light Emitting Diode) Sign - A sign using small light sources that emit colored light (usually red, but also green, yellow, blue or white) from a tiny amount of electricity that is used for electronic "message" signs. These signs became popular in the 1970s because they were inexpensive and allowed scrolling/changing messages to be used in commercial applications. Advances in LED technology have made them more useful for interior and exterior message displays.


Message Schedule - A list indicating the location number, quantities of signs and messages for each individual sign. Supplied with each of our quotes, the message schedule is used for review purposes and accompanies the floor plans of planned projects.


M.U.T.C.D. - The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, from the U.S. Department of Transportation as adopted by each of the 50 states. It defines highway sign and traffic control device standards.


O.S.H.A. - Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a federal government division responsible for monitoring and enforcing workplace safety laws.


Oil Canning - Typically used to refer to a slight buckling or waviness in a metal sign face due to an inadequate inner support structure, poor attachment, or insufficient thickness of the face material.


One Piece - see photopolymer.


Pantone - A widely-used color matching system designed to ensure that colors will be consistent whether viewed on-screen or in output from a printer. Many image editing and illustration programs allow you to specify a color by its Pantone Matching System number.


Photopolymer - AKA One Piece and Single Unit. A specialized plastic with a photosensitive coating that is masked and photo-etched to create tactile graphics. Used primarily for ADA signage that requires tactile copy and Braille.


Photo Imaging - The process or result of combining a photo of existing site conditions with a realistic depiction of signs or other structures, to create an image that shows how the finished work will look in the environment.


PMS Colors - AKA Pantone Matching System. See Pantone.


Public Path - A heavily used route, including corridors and public elevators, that connects public destinations.


Pushed-through Letters or Graphics - Letters or graphics that are cut out and then pushed through a corresponding space removed from the sign substrate. The push-through is typically a different color and/or material, and often a translucent acrylic, that is then lighted using internal illumination. Most pushed-through letters are flush with or project slightly from the front of the sign face.


Regulatory Signs - Signs installed by or under the requirement of government bodies to inform the public of laws and other regulations, and regulate vehicular traffic. AKA Code Compliant Signage.


Reverse Channel Letter - A channel letter with a face and sides but no back, which is held off a background surface by pins. When the neon tube inside the letter is illuminated, it produces a halo effect around the letter.


Sub-surface - A sign made of a clear substrate, such as acrylic, where the sign message is below the sign face providing extra protection from the environment.


Shop Drawings - Drawings used 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.


Sign Location Plan - Usually a site plan or floor plan indicating where signs will be placed or located.


Sign Type Array - Defines the style or use of each unique sign component in a system. Sign types are individually determined in each sign project. Sign type descriptions include the following: building identification, directory, directional or guide sign, freestanding, monument, pedestrian directional, pedestrian informational, post and panel, regulatory, vehicular directional, elevator directory, and room identifier.


Signage Reference Manual - A compilation of the drawings and specifications for each sign type, this is similar to the bid package. This document is helpful in ordering additional signs in the future and in maintaining the signage system as it was designed.


Signage Standards Manual - More detailed than a signage reference manual, this is a compilation of the drawings and specifications for each sign type, together with descriptions of the sign type's purpose and the situations in which it might be used. A signage standards manual also includes information on the overall wayfinding program such as the wayfinding methodology, graphic standards and the information hierarchy used.

Single Unit - see Photopolymer.


Solid Surface Material - Formerly referred to as SSV (solid surface veneer) this material is synthetic but has the look of natural stone. It is available in a variety of colors and patters. We most frequently use this as backplate material combined with our standard signature series faceplates and inserts. See Stonedge.


Substrate - The materials out of which signs are made. Wood, metal sheeting, paper, and acrylic are some examples of sign substrates.


Tactile Sign - A sign, or an area on a larger sign, that conveys its message through raised or engraved artwork, making it accessible to the visually impaired. Tactile and Braille messages are required by the ADA for all permanently identified rooms.


TDD - Telecommunications Device for the Deaf. This communication system enables written messages to be transmitted and received over telephone lines and displayed on a screen. The ADA requires use of a special symbol to indicate the availability of a TDD unit.


Value Engineering - Assessing a sign design based on the cost of its material, design, installation, and maintenance over time, with the goal of getting the best value for the money.


Variance - 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).


Wayfinding - Wayfinding encompasses all of the ways in which people orient themselves in physical space and navigate from place to place. It is a consistent use and organization of definite sensory cues from the external environment.

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