Skip to main content
Fireball Decals - Corporate Offices
700 Broadway, Box B
Centerville, SD 57014

8:00 am - 4:30 pm CDT

Glossary Of Terms

At Fireball Decals we take great pride in making our clients feel confident about their projects during the production process. To help you gain a better understanding of commonly used terminology, we’ve compiled a glossary of terms used in our industry.

  • 3D (three-dimensional) engraving

    A routing procedure where the tool bit can be moved independently along the up-and-down z-axis while still traveling an x/y-axis tool path. 3D engraving can create relieves and hand-chiseled looks while removing material from a substrate.

  • A

    A/D Converter
    Device that converts analog, or continuous, data into digital data or a series of discreet steps.

    A/D or ADC
    Analog to digital converter. The process of digitization or quantization so the brightness and color of each pixel can be measured and turned into digital values.

    The failure of a mirror or refracting surface or lens to produce exact, point-to-point correspondence between an object and its image. One of several optical faults that can cause a loss of sharpness.

    Absolute White
    In theory, a material that perfectly reflects all light energy at every visible wavelength. In practice, a solid white with known spectral data used as the "reference white" for all measurements of absolute reflectance.

    Access Time
    The amount of time required to acquire a block of data from a storage device and read it into the computer system.

    Achromatic Color
    Neutral color — white, gray, or black — that has no hue.

    Computer command, typically under "File" menu, that allows the start of scanning software directly from the application. Acquire is only available if the software is TWAIN-compliant.

    Adobe's electronic page-viewing system based on an extension to PostScript® . In theory, it transfers text, graphics and images between computers, no matter the platform, without altering the original format. Acrobat files have a .pdf extension.

    A type of plastic used for flat and formed surfaces. (Trademarks include Plexiglas and Acrilite.)

    Acrylic Adhesive
    An adhesive made of acrylic polymers.

    Active-Matrix Display
    A type of flat panel LCD display used in laptop and portable computers. Active matrix displays produce a superior image to passive matrix displays.

    Actual Size
    The size of an image when it was scanned (not enlarged or reduced in area or viewing perspective).

    Adaptive Compression
    A type of compression software commonly used to back up files. The method of compression will change with the type of file, and is not recommended for photographic images because it may destroy original data.

    ADC (Analog-to-Digital Converter)
    The device responsible for converting an analog sample, such as a voltage level, to a binary quantity, or video tape to a digitized format.

    Additive Colors
    The three additive primary colors are red, green and blue. When these three colors of light are mixed in equal proportions, they will produce white light. Also known as additive primaries.

    Addressable Resolution
    The maximum resolution of any device. The finite number of pixels that any imaging device is capable of creating, manipulating or imaging.

    The measure of the strength by which two materials bond together.

    AGP Port (Accelerated Graphics Port)
    A bus specification that enables 3-D graphics to display quickly on personal computers. AGP is a special interface designed to convey 3-D images (for example, from Web sites or CD-ROMs) much more quickly and smoothly than is possible today on any computer other than an expensive graphics workstation.

    Advanced SCSI Protocol Interface (ASPI)
    An interface standard developed by Adaptec Inc. that has become one of the major SCSI protocols for computers.

    Airbrush Printer
    A large, digital-print machine (for printing billboards, etc.) that uses compressed air to drive inks through the printhead. Now obsolete.

    Airbrushing Effect
    A software tool found in many image-editing programs that simulates paint/air-mixture effect of a mechanical airbrush.

    A mathematical routine that solves a problem or equation. In imaging, the term is usually used to describe the set of routines that make up a compression or color-management program.

    The visual stair-stepping of edges (jagged edges) that occurs in an image when the resolution is too low. Can be caused by improper image sampling or improper image processing.

    The degree of opacity of an image in computer graphics. Not the same as luminance.

    Alpha Channel
    An image-editor channel used to contain a mask or partial picture element or color.

    American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
    The official US standards organization, the U.S. member of the International Standards Organization (ISO), responsible for industry standards.

    The smoothing and removing of aliasing effects by electronic filtering and other techniques, such as blending of hard edges. Also, blending object-oriented art with bit-mapped art.

    Apparent Dot Area
    The percentage of dot coverage in a specific area, as measured using a densitometer.

    Apparent Dot Gain
    The difference between the Apparent Dot Area of the film, as measured by a transmission densitometer, and the Apparent Dot Area of the proof or printed sheet, as measured with a reflection densitometer.

    Term loosely used to refer to material that can be used without side effects in the conservation or care of important artifacts. Pertaining to the production of new items designed to have very good aging qualities.e.g. non-fading inks, acid free paper, etc.

    Retention of images, often on CD-ROM, for a specified period. Information necessary to reproduce the print is also archived, including ink, tables, sizes, and media used.

    Unwanted visual anomalies or defects generated by an input or output device, or by a software operation, that degrade image quality. See also aliasing, moiré pattern.

    Art Print
    Printing of original or reproductions of artwork with any number of methods. Iris/Giclee/Inkjet,lithography, offset lithography, serigraphy being the major sources for Art Print production.

    Art Reproduction
    To make a reasonable facsimile of an art object. Could be reproduced in any of a number of methods; painted, inkjet, serigraph, offset lithography, sculpted, cast etc.

    American Standard Code for Information Interchange. Code used to represent alphanumeric characters.

    Aspect Ratio
    The ratio of width to height. Used in the imaging industry to define applicability of an image to fit a page, screen, monitor, or frame.

    ASPI (Advanced SCSI Protocol Interface)
    An protocol developed by Adaptec Inc. that has become one of the major SCSI interface standards for computers.

    ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode)
    An emerging transmission method using a packet-like protocol capable of carrying voice, data, and video simultaneously. The main advantage of ATM is high switching speeds

  • ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)

    Legislation enacted by the U.S. federal government in 1991 with the goal of removing barriers that limit a disabled individual's ability to engage in normal daily activity in the physical, public environment. Title III of the ADA deals with related signage and wayfinding issues.

  • ADAA (Americans with Disabilities Accessibility Guidelines)

    A set of U.S. standards enacted in 1990 with the goal of ensuring equal access to public places and facilities for all persons. For signage and wayfinding, the ADAA defines proper letter forms and letter heights for best legibility, proper Braille and tactile lettering forms, and also appropriate signage materials and finishes.

  • ANSI (American National Standards Institute)

    A private, nonprofit organization in the U.S. that works to develop manufacturing and quality standards across multiple industries. The organization also works with the committees of other nations to develop standards that facilitate international trade and telecommunications.

  • Adobe Acrobat®

    Popular software package used for viewing and printing Portable Document Format (PDF) files. The advantage of a PDF file is that it allows anyone to view and print a document as it was originally intended without having to install the program or fonts used to create the file. Adobe Acrobat is a product of Adobe Systems®, Inc.

  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

    A private, nonprofit organization in the U.S. that works to develop manufacturing and quality standards across multiple industries. The organization also works with the committees of other nations to develop standards that facilitate international trade and telecommunications.

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

    Legislation enacted by the U.S. federal government in 1991 with the goal of removing barriers that limit a disabled individual's ability to engage in normal daily activity in the physical, public environment. Title III of the ADA deals with related signage and wayfinding issues.

  • B

    Backbone Network
    A central communications network to which many routers are connected; usually a high-speed, high-bandwidth network.

    Background Processing
    Allows assignment of specific operations to the background while the computer continues to perform previously assigned instructions.

    Patterns (stripes) on a print caused by insufficient color or gray-scale ranges within the output device's image processor, or insufficient information contained within the original scan. Creates harsh, well-defined transitions between different ranges.

    The "size" or throughput capacity of a network, usually measured in bits per second; or, less often, the range of frequencies in a signal. The amount of data you can send through a connection.

    Barrel Distortion
    Image effect that spreads the center dimensions of the picture.

    Base Resolution
    Photo-CD image resolution (512 x 768 pixels) formatted for display on current consumer televisions.

    An image resolution with 1/16 the number of pixels as Base Resolution.

    An image resolution with 1/4 the number of pixels as Base Resolution.

    Batch Scan
    The process of scanning numerous pages that contain similar data — for example, a number of photos or a multiple-page text document.

    A set of tests to determine performance of an item or system.

    Beta Site
    A business or location involved in testing a specific product just prior to release.

    Beta Test
    The testing of a software product in the field under real operating conditions prior to general release.

    Beziér Curve
    Curved-line segments created by establishing endpoints or anchor points, and at least one transient point or node.

    Bi-Cubic Inter-Polation
    Matrix for comparison of central pixels to surrounding pixels. Used to increase the apparent resolution of a digital image. Also referred to as interpolation.

    A numbering system based on 2s, which uses 0 and 1 to represent all numbers.

    Basic Input Output System. The part of a computer that controls communication between all the disk drives, monitor, keyboard, and other devices.

    Derived from Binary digIT. The smallest unit of information in a computer, a 1 or a 0. 8 bits = 1 byte.

    Bit Depth
    The maximum number of bits that are used to define a pixel. A measure of the defined brightness range.

    A rasterized graphic image formed by a rectangular grid of pixels or dots.

    The fourth color in four-color printing. It is listed as the K in "CMYK." Black is required in the printing process because equal amounts of cyan, magenta and yellow inks will not produce a true black; ideally, the complete absorption of incident light; the absence of any reflection. In the practical sense, any color which is close to this ideal in a relative viewing situation, i.e. a color of very low saturation and of low luminance.

    Black And White Drawing Region
    A region of a view area of the scan used for areas with only black and white lines or shapes. Photos show depth, while drawings are flat. A drawing region is also used to capture text that includes graphical elements.

    Black And White Photo Region
    A region of a view area of the scan used for areas that include an image with shades of gray in addition to black and white. Photos show depth, while drawings are flat.

    Black Generation
    The addition of black ink to the other process colors when separating an RGB color image into CMYK colors. Black generation is typically handled in one of two ways, GCR or UCR.

    Black Point
    Color that when scanned produces values of 0, 0, 0 in a scanner. Ideally, the black point is 0% neutral reflectance or transmittance. See also white point.

    Extension of an image or background beyond the trim edge of a page

    Bleeding Edge
    Technology in its first phase of development.

    In computer-graphics software, the intermediate steps between two objects created when the objects are merged together via a specified number of intermediate steps.

    One of the three additive primary colors of light.

    Blur (Motion Blur)
    The softening of image detail, usually accomplished through software averaging of pixel values to soften edges.

    BMP file
    A Windows bitmap file, with the extension ".bmp," that defines an image (such as the image of a scanned page) as a pattern of dots (pixels).

    Pressmatch®, Proofprint, Iris®
    The proof accepted by the artist that is used as the standard for comparing all subsequent prints. Some printers require a signed "proofprint" before production printing can begin.

    Bits per second. See Kbps.

    A mechanism that connects like networks and allows devices running on the LAN to communicate with each other.

    The overall intensity of the image. The lower the brightness value, the darker the image; the higher the value, the lighter the image will be.

    Dimension of color that is referred to an achromatic scale, ranging from black to white; also called lightness or luminous reflectance or transmittance (q.v.).

    In many image-editing programs, a special effects filter that performs a specific function, such as smoothing selective edges.

    A temporary storage space in computer memory for data before transmission.

    A data pathway used within a computer system to transfer information within the system.

    A standard unit of measure. 8 bits = 1 byte. Each 8-bit byte represents an alphanumeric character.

  • Braille

    A system of small raised dots that represent the alphabet, punctuation and numbers for the visually impaired. The ADA stipulates the use of Braille on signage in certain instances.

  • Braille beads

    Small plastic or metal beads that can be placed in the face of a sign to create informational Braille text as required by the ADA. (Also known as Braille bullets or ballpoint Braille.)

  • Braille bullets

    Small plastic or metal beads that can be placed in the face of a sign to create informational Braille text as required by the ADA. (Also known as ballpoint Braille or Braille beads.)

  • C

    High-level computer language which is used for a variety of programs. (Also C++.)

    Abbreviation for chromaticity or chromaticity difference, respectively.

    Cable modem
    An end-user device that allows for the transmission of data (e.g. Internet) over coaxial or fiber-optic cable-television systems. (Not a true modem.)

    A temporary storage area for information which locates itself between the hard disk and the RAM by employing intuitive logic. It also speeds up the access time of the data.

    CAD (Computer Aided Design)
    Software used to produce designs and drawings for architectural, engineering and scientific applications.

    A film or paper manufactured by passing solid sheets of material between two polished rollers under high pressure.

    The setting of computer system components to a standard which will produce the same readable results on each unit, i.e. color calibration is necessary in the workstation to achieve the same results on the output.

    Acronym for computer-assisted manufacturing.

    Acquiring information, such as an image, with a scanner or digital-camera device.

    A scanner's imaging head that moves down a page to capture an image. Also called optical-imaging element, optical-imaging head.

    Computer-Aided Sign-Making. Refers to sign-related software and computer-driven, sign-making equipment.

    A film manufactured by coating a liquid, plastic resin onto a moving belt or drum.

    To manufacture letters, plaques, etc. by pouring material into molds, rather than being fabricated.

    Cathode Ray Tube (CRT)
    Tube used in televisions and computer monitors to display the output of the video signal or computer line information. CRTs use the additive primary colors red, green and blue.

    CCD (Charged Coupled Device)
    Light-detection device used in many popular scanners, digital cameras, and video cameras that generates electrical current in direct proportion to how much light strikes areas of the sensor.

    CCD Array
    An arrangement of CCD sensors mounted in close proximity that allows for the simultaneous capturing of many pixels with one exposure.

    CCITT (Consultative Committee for International Telephony and Telegraphy)
    Organization for specifying standards for communications throughout the world.

    CD-XA (Extended Architecture)
    A specific type of compact disc read-only devices that are compatible with the Photo CD format and other CD’s. Multiple session Photo CD’s cannot be fully utilized on non-XA drives.

    CD-DA Digital Audio
    Standard audio CD format

    CD Interactive (CD-I)
    Multimedia system that uses a CD-ROM XA disc for simultaneous presentation of video, audio, data and text, allowing the user to interact by responding to prompts generated by software.

    CD-R (CD-Recordable)
    A CD format that allows the users to record data to a disc when using the proper hardware. Recorded data is not erasable.

    A CD format that allows users to erse data.

    A common PC (parallel) computer interface, most often used for printers.

    CEPS (Color Electronic Prepress)
    A high-end digital publishing system specifically designed for color correction and image assembly.

    A non-forgeable, tamper-proof way of verifying validity in electronic commerce.

    Common Gateway Interface; a specification for communications between WWW servers and other file servers, e.g. databases.

    CGM (Computer Graphics Metafile)
    A vector-based standard for graphics files that allows images to be transferred between applications.

    A component of a digital image that carries the data for a color component or a mask.

    Charge-coupled device (CCD)
    A miniature photometer that detects light intensity and represents the intensity with an analog voltage. A CCD array is made up of CCD elements, the smallest discrete CCD.

    A small integer used to detect whether errors occur when communicating data from one place to another.

    In printing, a term describing a relationship between a foreground element and a background color or element. To create a trap between a fore-ground element that knocks out a background, the background may be "choked" or slightly encroached upon.

    Chooser Level
    A process on Macintosh computers for users to easily direct data to a specific output device, such as a film recorder or printer.

    A measure of saturation associated with color.

    Perceived as having a hue; not white, gray or black.

    Chromatic Attributes
    Those attributes associated with the spectral distribution of light.

    That part of color specification which does not involve illuminance. Chromaticity is two-dimensional and is specified by pairs of numbers such as dominant wavelength and purity.

    Chromaticity Coordinates, CIE
    The ratios of each of the three tristimulus values X, Y and Z in relation to the sum of the three: designated as x, y and z respectively. Sometimes referred to as the trichromatic coefficients.

    Chromaticity Diagram, CIE
    A two-dimensional graph of the chromaticity coordinates, x as the abscissa and y as the ordinate, which shows the spectrum locus (chromaticity coordinates of monochromatic light, 380-770nm).

    The portions of a signal that are dedicated to describing the hue and saturation. Used in measuring the difference between two colors of equal brightness.

    CIE (Commission International de l’Eclairange)
    A set of color standards based on mathematical modeling of human vision and light. CIE color spaces are used for the communication of color independent of a specific device.

    CIE Chromaticity Coordinates
    The ratios of each of the tristimulus values of a color to the sum of the tristimulus values. In the CIE systems they are designated by x, y, and z.

    CIE Luminosity Function (y)
    A plot of the relative magnitude of the visual response as a function of wavelength from about 380 to 780 nm, adopted by CIE in 1924.

    CIE Standard Illuminants
    Known spectral data established by the CIE for four different types of light sources.

    CIE Standard Observer
    A hypothetical observer having the tristimulus color-mixture data recommended in 1931 by the CIE for a 2' field of vision. A supplementary observer for a larger 10' field was adopted in 1964.

    CIE Tristimulus Values
    The amounts of the three reference or matching stimuli required to give a match with the color stimulus considered, in a given trichromatic system.

    CIE xy Chromaticity Diagram
    A two-dimensional graph of the chromaticity coordinates, x as the abscissa and y as the ordinate, which shows the spectrum locus (chromaticity coordinates of mono-chromatic light, 380-770nm).

    CIE LAB (L*a*b*)
    A color model to approximate human vision. The model consists of three variables: L* for luminosity, a* for one color axis, and b* for the other color axis.

    CIELUV (or CIE L*u*v*, CIE Luv)
    Color space in which values L*, u*, and v* are plotted at right angles to one another to form a three-dimensional coordinate system. Equal distances in the space approximately represent equal color differences.

    The grouping (usually unwanted) of all tones or colors above or below a certain value into one composite tone.

    The process of producing an exact copy of existing digital-image data, either to another image file or copying an area of an image within the same file.

    Closed Architecture
    Computer systems with a specific design that severely limits the addition of peripheral devices or other software/hardware to the system, especially from other manufacturers.

    Closed Loop
    A signal path that includes a forward path, a feedback path, and a summing point to forms a closed circuit.

    CLUT (Color Look-Up Table)
    A color-management software reference file that maintains the proper calibration of devices, such as monitors, printers and scanners. (See also, LUT.)

    CMC (Color Measurement Committee)
    Of the Society of Dyes and Colourists in Great Britain. Developed a more logical, ellipse-based equation for computing DE values as an alternative to the rectangular coordinates of the CIE LAB color space.

    CMS (Color Management System)
    A system to measure and control the process colors that are used in four-color printed reproduction. See Color Management System.

    CMY (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow)
    Three subtractive primary colors used in color-negative printing, and some color-output devices, to produce a full gamut of color. The combination of pure CMY inks produces black, and the elimination of all three produces white.

    Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (or Key) are the four colors used in process-color printing. Also known as subtractive color, the color black is achieved by the presence of all inks.

    Coated Paper Stock
    A printing paper having a transparent, smooth layer added to one or both sides that changes the look of the final printing. Coatings are normally defined as hard glossy, semi-glossy or matte surfaces.

    A thin covering provides protection from UV-induced fading, smudging and fingerprints. It does not materially improve the permanence of the print because most fading is due to visible light.

    Color Attribute
    A three-dimensional characteristic of the appearance of an object. One dimension usually defines the lightness, the other two together define the chromaticity.

    Color Bar (or Production Control Bar)
    A series of ink patches printed on a press sheet that may include solids of cyan, magenta, yellow, black, and spot color ink; 25%, 50%, and 75% tints of those colors; and two-color overprints using those colors.

    Color Calibration
    A system of software and/or hardware that adjusts and coordinates colors between two or more digital devices. Color calibration systems commonly compare device color profiles and translate one color model into a device-independent language.

    Color Compression
    Shrinking the color gamut of the original to the color gamut a device will represent.

    Color Curve
    A graphic mechanism for displaying color measurements and for making color changes to an image. User adjustments to the angle and slope of the curve implement color changes to one or all of an image’s color channels.

    Color Difference
    Magnitude and character of the difference between two colors under specified conditions.

    Color Gamut
    A range of colors that can be reproduced by a given system.

    Color Management System (CMS)
    A combination of software and or hardware devices used to produce accurate color results throughout a digital-imaging system.

    Color Matching Functions
    Relative amounts of three additive primaries required to match each wavelength of light. The term is generally used to refer to the CIE Standard Observer color matching functions.

    Color Model
    A color measurement scale or system that numerically specifies the perceived attributes of color.

    Color Photo Region
    A region of a view area of the scan used for areas that include an image with color graduations in addition to blocks of solid, uniform color. Photos show depth, while drawings are flat.

    Color Profile
    Also called device profile. This term refers to the relationship between the color models of the system devices.

    Color Proof
    A color sample that attempts to represent the final printed image that will result when a piece is offset printed. Color proofs can be generated from film separations prior to using the separations to make printing plates. Common types are Cromalin, MatchPrint, ink jet, dye sublimation, laser copies, or photographic film or paper.

    Color Saturation
    Color Strength. A measure of color purity, or dilution by a neutral.

    Color Separation
    The process of separating a color image into four subtractive colors, CMYK, either by photographic or electronic processes, thus producing a set of four films or a computer file.

    Color Space
    Three-dimensional mathematical model enclosing all possible colors. The dimensions may be described in various geometries giving rise to various spacings.

    Color Specification
    Tristimulus values, chromaticity coordinates and luminance value, or other color-scale values, used to designate a color numerically in a specified color system.

    Color System
    A concept that relates colors for description or reproduction. Models in imaging include CIE, PMS and Photo YCC, among others.

    Color Temperature
    The color spectrum of a "black body" radiator heated to a given temperature on the Kelvin scale.The manufacturer's method of indicating the color of a light source in degrees Kelvin (K); i.e. 2700K (yellow/white), 4100K (white), 5500K (blue/white).

    Color Transparency
    A photographic or line-art image printed in color on clear film. A film positive.

    Color Wheel
    The visible spectrum’s continuum of colors arranged into a circle, where complementary colors such as red and cyan are located directly across from each other.

    Color-Matching Functions
    The mathematical relationships that assign a weight to red, green, and blue color separations to reproduce the original color. 3-by-3 matrixing is the use of a color-matching function available on some scanners. See also 3-by-3 matrixing.

    Materials used to create colors-dyes, pigments, toners, waxes.

    A device for measuring color values; an optical measurement instrument that responds to color in a manner similar to the human eye by filtering reflected light into its dominant regions of red, green, and blue.

    Of, or relating to, values giving the amounts of three colored lights or receptors-red, green, and blue.

    An abbreviation for composite or comprehensive. A layout that is produced during the design process providing a preview of the finished print job.

    The process of translating source code into object code. To convert code into machine language and match software to the central processing unit.

    Complementary Colors
    Two colors that, when combined, create neutral gray. On a color wheel complements are directly opposite the axis from each other; blue/yellow, red/green, and so on.

    The process of combining images, artwork, lineart and type either photomechanically or by computer.

    Composite Video
    A video signal that includes the luminance and chrominance signals, along with the burst signal and sync signals. Composite video signals are transmitted over a single wire. The standard television signal.

    The process of removing irrelevant information and reducing unneeded space from a file in order to make the file smaller. Compression can cause losses and distortion, depending on the method.

    Computer Aided Design (CAD) or Graphics (CAG)
    System used to generate and reproduce full-color designs, artwork, photographs, etc., through use of a computer, plotter, printer, keyboard, etc.

    Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM)
    Generally describes any programmable, computerized, motor-driven system of components that functions in a manufacturing capacity.

    The ability to connect electronic imaging components together so they function in harmony.

    A highly reflective film, rendered in bright safety colors to enhance appearace under highway conditions.

    Continuous Tone
    A photographic image containing gradient tones. For printing purposes, continuous-tone images are converted to dot patterns (halftones).

    See Banding.

    The difference between the dark and light areas of an image. The lower the number value, the more closely the shades will resemble each other. The higher the number, the more the shades will stand out from each other. Speed of desity change; graduation.

    In computer imaging, to change a CMYK file to RGB, Photo YCC, or vice versa, or to convert one file format to another.

    The flat glass plate on which originals are placed for scanning.

    Correlated Noise
    A recognizable pattern of change in an image file. The change is an increase or a decrease in the brightness of the pixels compared to what they should be.

    Adobe's software-based Configurable PostScript Level 2 Interpreter that performs the interpretation and rasterization function typically done by hardware-based RIPs.

    CPU (Central Processing Unit)
    The main processing portion of a computer. This section contains processing and control circuitry along with internal storage areas.

    A "spider-web" cracking of paints or plastic, caused by weathering, cleaning with strong solvents, or the use of improper paints.

    To remove part of an image.

    CT Merge
    The process of combining two continuous tone image tiles to create a seamless blending of the two images.

    Cutting Plotter
    A vector-driven device (similar to CAS plotters) for cutting sign-making substrates. Recent designs include digital-print (inkjet) systems combined with cutting-plotter systems. (See also, Plotter and Printer/cutter.)

    One of the three subtractive primary colors. Produced by mixing equal amounts of blue and green projected light. Cyan is also one of the four colors used in four-color printing.

  • CAC (customer acquisition cost)

    The cost of convincing a new customer to buy your product or service. This includes the cost of market research, marketing and advertising.

  • 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.

  • CAS (computer-aided sign making)

    General term for the use of design software and computer controlled manufacturing equipment in the sign-making process.

  • CMYK

    Abbreviation for the ink colors cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow and black. Combinations of these four colors of inks are used in printing to create all other colors.

  • CPT (cost per thousand)

    The cost of reaching 1,000 viewers with an advertisement in a given medium--print, radio, television and signage. Based on CPT, signage is the least expensive form of advertising available.

  • D

    Highest level of density.

    Lowest level of density.

    D-RAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory)
    A solid state computer memory device offering high data packing density and data rates. (It must be frequently "refreshed".)

    Dots per inch. A measure of the detail of a print. "Apparent d.p.i." refers to the fact that the eye perceives a gicle as having greater detail than in does in physical reality.

    D/A Converter (DAC)
    The process of converting binary digital data back to an analog voltage. An example: film recorder, CRT or light beam.

    The CIE Standard Illuminant that represents a color temperature of 6504_K. This is the color temperature that is most widely used in graphic arts industry viewing booths. See Kelvin (K).

    DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter)
    Any device capable of converting discrete digital binary numbers into continuous analog signals or voltages.

    Dark Voltage
    The voltage from a CCD when no light is incident on the CCD. Also called dark current.

    DAT (Digital Audio Tape)
    A recording format commonly used for data storage and data backup be-cause of its low cost per megabyte. Also Dynamic Address Translation.

    The numbers that make up a digital file.

    An organized collection of data or information.

    Data Warehouse
    The concept of using a mainframe or other large computer as a mass storage device for data in which many users can have access to data using tools like relational databases and GIS.

    Daylight Illuminants CIE
    Series of spectral power distribution curves based on measurements of natural daylight and recommended by the CIE in 1965. Values are defined for the wavelength region 300 to 830nm.

    DCS (Desktop Color Separation)
    Computer file format including four EPS files for CMYK; a graphics file appropriate to the operating platform for screen display.

    DDCP (Direct Digital Color Proof)
    A sample produced directly from a digital file and imaged onto various media.

    Dynamic Data Interchange. The ability to take data created in one application and use it in another.

    Digital Data Exchange Standard, Standard formats for transferring digital prepress production images for printed materials. Developed by suppliers and end users of digital-imaging processing equipment to enable image data to be transported between systems.

    DDS (Digital Data Service)
    Umbrella term that covers all digital connections available from phone companies, including Switched 56 and T1.

    Small graphics, long or short-term, printed on adhesive-coated vinyls or transfer materials, such as wall-mount decals.

    Automatic decision or setting with computer software and hardware programs, to be carried out unless changed by the user.

    Process of eliminating magnetism, such as with a color monitor face plate, to eliminate distortion.

    Separation of layers in a laminate because of failure in or near the material interface. May be used to describe any splitting of a material in a plane parallel to its surface.

    Delta (D)
    A symbol used to indicate deviation, difference or change.

    Delta E*, Delta e*
    The total color difference computed with a color difference equation. It is generally calculated as the square root of the sum of the squares of the chromaticity difference, Delta C*, and the lightness difference, Delta L*.

    An instrument that measures transmitted or reflected light. It will indicate, in density units or percentage dot, the percentage of a given area that is covered by halftone dots. This instrument is used to ensure consistency and process control.

    The degree of opacity of an image; A measure of reflectance or transmittance equal to log10 (1/reflectance) of log10 or (1/transmittance); The ability of a material to absorb light; the darker it is, the higher the density. Density measurements of solid ink patches are used to control ink on paper.

    Depth Of Field
    The distance in front of, and behind, the subject that will be acceptibly sharp. This distance will increase as the lens aperture is reduced.

    In scanning, the method of applying a controlled blur to erase discreet components of a halftone image and make it appear more like a continuous-tone image. This process will minimize effects of causing moiré patterns if the image is re-screened.

    Desktop Video Conferencing
    A system which allows a user to conduct a video conference, usually using ISDN or a Fractional T1 circuit, at individual computer workstations.

    Device Driver
    Software that tells the computer how to communicate with a peripheral device, i.e. printer, CD-ROM.

    Describes a color space that can be defined only by using information on the color-rendering capabilities of a specific device.

    Describes a color space that can be defined using the full gamut of human vision, as defined by a standard observer, independent of the color-rendering capabilities of any specific device.

    Diamond Grade
    Highly retroreflective sheeting made of prismatic lenses formed in a durable resin, sealed with a white film and backed with a pressure-sensitive adhesive.

    DIB File Format
    Device-independent bitmap format.

    Dichroic Filter
    A glass plate coated with a number of thin layers of material that will reflect all but one very specific color. Also called dichroic mirror.

    Cutting of material to a specific shape using thermal or steel rule dies.

    DIF (Data Interchange Format)
    A standardized format that allows for the exchanging of digital data between different programs.

    Diffuse Dither
    A method for printing continuous-tone images on laser printers in which the grayscale information is represented by randomly located printer dots.

    The translucent-white sheet that evens out the light coming from the lamps in an optical system.

    Image and line data that has been translated into numerical values for manipulation and reproduction.

    Digital Camera
    Portable optical recorder that captures images on an internal memory chip, removable PC cards, or other digital media. Images can be transferred electronically to a computer for manipulation, e-mailing or website creation.

    Digital Color Printing
    One of serveral non-impact technologies where the image is formed by a computer controlled printer.. (Generally accepted to include: electrostatic, ink jet, laser photo, and thermal transfer.)

    Digital Halftone
    The process of obtaining various tones by breaking up the image into a graduated series of dots. The dots repeat in a regular pattern, creating the illusion of continuous tone. The digital printing process is controlled by the size and shape of dots.

    Digital Imaging
    The process of image capture, manipulation and final image form, accomplished by electronic systems.

    Digital Internegatives
    Internegs that are produced by digitally scanning the original transparency to create a digital file, then imaging the digital data using a film recorder to record the image onto a negative film stock.

    Digital Printer
    Any printing device that is capable of translating digital data into hardcopy output.

    Digital Signal Processors (DSP)
    Microprocessor chips specially designed to convert, modify and manipulate streams of digitized signals in real time. These chips allow for faster telephony, faxing, and audio and video capture and editing.

    Digital Signature
    A means of authenticating electronic documents. A digital signature is actually a special kind of encrypted message needed for electronic commerce.

    The process of converting analog data to digital information.

    Digitizing Platform
    A work table that is a flat electronic sensor on which a "mouse" or stylus is used to input custom drawings into a computer.

    Dimensional Stability
    The ability to resist dimensional change; i.e. the amount of shrinkage or expansion.

    DIP (Document Image Processing)
    Abbreviation for Document Image Processing. Systems and software that stores, manages, and retrieves documents as digital images.

    DIP (Dual In-line Package as in DIP Switches)
    Small switches used on some computers and peripherals in order to change operating settings.

    Direct Illumination
    Signs lit from the outside with floods, spots, etc.

    Direct Memory Access
    The ability to use memory without a software interface.

    The technique of applying digital image data directly to blank plates mounted on the press.

    Direct-to-Press Printing
    Printing devices that allow for the elimination of film separations from the printing process. These systems utilize a computer controlled system employing lasers to "write" digital data to a plate that is already mounted on the press.

    Directional Sign
    A display showing guidance information used both outside and inside buildings.

    A display which shows location information and tenant information; also, a logical segment of a storage disk that is used to group and arrange files so they can be easily found.

    The spelling variation of "disk" referring to compact discs such as Photo CD or other CD-ROM.

    Distributed Computing
    A broad term used to describe computations involving multiple computers.

    Distributed Database
    A database where unique but related components are stored in dispersed locations.

    A graphics display or printing process that uses a combination of dots or textures to simulate an original image or an output device. The purpose is to create the impression of a continuous-tone gray-scale or color image.

    Document Management
    An integrated system for handling the electronic retrieval, analysis, communication, and management of digitized images of paper documents.

    A part of a naming hierarchy for the Internet. A domain name consists of a sequence of parts separated by dots, such as "", which is the domain for state government in Iowa.

    Dots make up an image in color separations or halftones. Halftone dots will have a fixed density but have variable size (amplitude modulation).

    Dot Area
    Percentage of paper covered by ink dots of a given color. See Apparent Dot Area.

    Dot Gain
    The phenomenon that occurs when ink expands its coverage during printing onto a substrate; often caused by abnormal or excessive absorption by the substrate.

    Dot Pitch
    The distance between the dots on a computer monitor, typically 0.24 to 0.38 mm. The closer the dots the sharper the image on the monitor.

    Dots Per Inch (DPI)
    A linear measurement of resolution used for scanning and printing. Generally, more dots per inch mean a higher resolution, a greater amount of visible detail in the image, and a larger file size.

    The process of receiving data from another computer, server or system. The reduction in resolution of an image, necessitating a loss in detail.

    DPI (or PPI) Dots Per Inch/Pixels Per Inch
    The resolution of an image or how many pixels are defined in the boundary of an inch. The more correct term is pixels per inch, however dots per inch is often used instead.

    A software program that links together the computer and its components and peripherals: printers, scanners and the monitor.

    Drop-Shade Or Drop-Shadow
    The shadowing effect on letters, to simulate light being cast at an angle.

    Dropout Color
    Color that is invisible when scanning a color object in grayscale mode, causing any detail in this color to disappear.

    Drum Scanner
    A type of optical scanner where the reflective or transmissive art is mounted to a rotating drum. As the drum spins, light from the image enters a lens allowing the image to be recorded in a series of fine lines.

    DSP (Digital Signal Processor)
    Chips that are designed to facilitate digital video and/or audio, along with signal processing.

    Acronym for desktop publishing, including typesetting, image handling and page composition.

    Dual Processors
    Two central processing units in the computer.

    A monochromatic printed image created by two overlapping halftone screens of different colors; generally created from a black and white photographic original in order to add additional tonal range, or to create a tinted or colored appearance.

    To print on both sides of a single page.

    A relative term used to describe the functional lifespan of a material typically compared to a control.

    DVD (Digital Versatile Disc)
    A technology similar to Compact Disc, but far superior in its storage capacity. A DVD can contain about 4.7 GB of data in its single-sided, single-density version, and 18 GB or more in a double-sided, double-density version.

    A soluble colorant; as opposed to pigment, which is insoluble.

    Dye Sublimation
    An imaging process that vaporizes colorant with heat and pressure, and deposits it on to a substrate in order to simulate a continuous tone image.

    Dynamic Range
    The measurable difference between the brightest highlight and the darkest value.

  • DEC (daily effective circulation)

    The average number of persons per day who see a given sign or group of signs. A "day" equates to a 12-hour period for non-illuminated signs, and an 18-hour period for illuminated signs.

  • DOT (Department of Transportation) symbols

    The set of standardized symbols developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for use in traffic signs.

  • E

    Short form for electrostatic. Output from an electrostatic printer.

    Abbreviation for Electronic Data Interchange. Protocols that allow for two organizations (such as a supplier and a manufacturer) to share electronic information and conduct transactions without paper.

    Effective Resolution
    The final appearance of a scan that has been enhanced to produce more data than the scanner can record. This is done by interpolation.

    Extended Graphics Adapter. A medium resolution video card for PCs.

    EISA (Extended Industry-Standard Architecture)
    A bus standard introduced in 1988 and intended to provide greater performance than ISA and still be compatible with all ISA cards.

    EISA Bus
    A type of 32-bit data bus used in PCs.

    Used in direct-to-press printing applications. They work in a manner similar to a laser copier’s toners.

    Electro-magnetic Spectrum
    The complete range of electromagnetic waves, as measured by wavelength. Different wavelengths have different properties; most are invisible. These include sound, radio, microwave, heat, light, ultra-violet, X-rays, cosmic rays.

    Electronic Dot Generation (EDG)
    Process used in digital halftone production that allows negatives or plates to be generated by grouping micro dots into regular groups to function in the same manner as a photographically produced halftone.

    A process of imaging where a "toner" is used to form an image by controlled static charges. Toner printing adheres to the charged areas.

    Measurement of the amount of stretching.

    Emissive Object
    An object that emits light and/or other radiant energy, such as the burning gasses of the sun or the heated filament of a light bulb.

    Emulsion Side
    The side of photographic film or paper coated with the light sensitive silver halide emulsion. Film output is specified for use as emulsion up, or emulsion down.

    Encapsulated Postscript (EPS)
    An Adobe graphic file format. EPS translates graphics and text into a code which the printer can read and print. EPS files hold both low-resolution viewfiles and high-resolution PostScript image descriptions.

    The process of scrambling a signal or file so that special hardware or software is needed for a receiver to reconstitute the image.

    The improvement of an image either through color and/or density change.

    Error Diffusion
    In actuality, error diffusion is a random dot-placement strategy (or dithering method), spreading out the inherent failing until it is indistinguishable to the unaided eye.

    Networking system that allows for high speed data transfer between computers and peripherals.

    Extended Architecture
    A type of CD-ROM drive that allows for the use of multisession discs, such as Photo CD.

  • F

    The loss of or change of color density, generally accelerated by exposure to sunlight.

    A technique in many image-editing programs that allows for the softening of the edge around a selection.

    Fiber Optic Cables
    Cables made of very thin glass or plastic fibers that use light pulses to transmit data instead of electricity. These cables have greater bandwidth than electrical transmission through wires.

    File Converters
    Hardware or software that is used to convert files from one type of file format to another format.

    File Format
    The particular arrangement of digital information that is saved from an application program. The method of arrangement or storage is unique for any particular application program, but most applications can import and export graphics and text from some other application.

    File Server
    A computer which feeds data to other computers, workstations or devices.

    Film Recorder
    A device that records digital image data on film. Typically this device is used to produce photographic color transparencies and negatives, but the term also applies to image setters which produce negatives (for making plates) for printing.

    Software used to modify digital images by altering the values or arrangement of selected image pixels.

    The surface property of a material determined by its surface contour and gloss.

    Programming embedded onto a computer’s ROM chips. This information is permanently burned into the chip and can be changed only by replacing the chips, or in the case of EEROM by a special procedure..

    First Surface
    A reflective coating on a mirror that is on top of the glass rather than behind it; used in optical systems.

    FITS (Functional Interpolating Transformational System)
    A software technology that allows the user to edit very large image files in near real-time by accessing only the image data being edited.

    Fixed Disk
    Another term for a hard disk drive.

    Non image-forming illumination, e.g., scattered light that causes a "haze."

    Flash Memory
    A special type of RAM memory that stores data without electrical current. This type of memory is currently used in a number of digital cameras and some portable computers through the use of credit-card sized devices.

    An image file format developed and supported by Eastman Kodak Co., Microsoft Corp., Hewlett-Packard, Live Picture and other companies. The format uses FITS technology to facilitate the transmission and manipulation of large image files.

    In offset printing, a paper or film holding all of the photographic films required to make a particular printing plate. Also, a state of low contrast in an image.

    Flat Color
    A technique of imaging graphics from regions of solid color with no gradations at all. Often used in fabric and wallpaper imaging.

    Flat Or Matte Finish
    A low-gloss finish, with little reflective quality.

    Flatbed Scanner
    A scanner which utilizes CCD linear arrays, where the image is placed on a glass platen, and the array moves past the artwork.

    Printing from a rubber roller; i.e. direct rotary printing using resilient raised image plates.

    A perceivable fluctuation of the brightness levels of a displayed image. This problem is often present in CRT monitors that have a vertical scan rate that is too low.

    Florida 45
    A weathering panel exposed in Florida at 45 degrees to the sky and facing south. Generally, considered to be one of the harshest exposures to sunlight.

    Flow Control
    Control of the rate that data is sent from one computer to another via telecommunications. This allows a fast computer or modem to communicate with a slower one.

    A physical process at which the materials pigments absorb light and re-radiate this light as a different color, giving the color of the material extra light or brilliance.

    Refers to an object that is mounted directly to a surface, with no raised surface space between, i.e.: "Flush Mount Letters."

    FM (Frequency-Modulated Screening)
    A dithering method that uses uniform dot sizes and varies the distance between them. This method is different from conventional halftone screening, which aligns dots of varying sizes on a regular grid.

    Term for donor medium for thermal-transfer printing; usually involves wax-based or resin-based colorant on rolls of thin plastic that travel over heated print head and are placed on a substrate by combinations of heat and pressure by the printer. Also, a very thin, metal sheet of various alloys, used mainly as an overlay, veneer, or cutout applique.

    Historically, an assortment of letters and/or numbers, all the same size and type having a pre-determined amount of each letter or number. The term today refers generically to letter styles.

    Foot candles, LUX
    A unit used to measure light, a measure of illuminance, light level incident on a surface. LUX x .0929 = Foot candles

    Characteristic identifying size of printer, media, or graphic, according to width of media roll, printer’s print area, or graphic. Mediam Format is generally taken to be between 11"—24" in width; Large Format (Wide Format) larger than 24" in width, and Grand Format larger than 72" in width.

    Four-Color Process
    A system of printing colors by printing dots of magenta, cyan, yellow and black.

    FPO (For Position Only)
    A representation (usually low-resolution) that indicates the position on a page of an object, but is not meant to represent the output quality of the object.

    FPX Flashpix
    An emerging World Wide Web standard for images. The FPX file format stores one version of the file for onscreen display and one for printing. This format is useful for a single image to place on the Web.

    A mathematically generated pattern that is reproducible at any magnification or reduction.

    Frame Buffer
    An area in RAM memory set aside to specifically hold the data for the screen display.

    Frame Grabber
    A computer expansion board (card) which acquires a signal from TV or video and converts it into a digital computer image.

    Frame Image
    A video image that is the combination of two fields and includes the odd and evenly scanned lines. One frame represents 1/30 of a second of video viewing time.

    Frequency Response
    Range of frequencies that will operate in a given electrical circuit. See optical frequency response.

    FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
    The language used to facilitate the transfer of files from a server on the Internet to another location, such as a desktop computer or another server.

    Full Bleed
    Printing term used when an image or background extends to the final trim edge of a printed page.

  • G

    A mathematical curve representing both the contrast and brightness of an image. The steepness of the curve indicates greater contrast calculated as a trigonometric tangent function.

    Gamma Correction
    The nonlinear tonal correction editing an images gamma curve. This is typically used to manipulate image shadow detail and lighten the image without washing out the highlight areas.

    Gamma Curve
    The shape of a line connecting the input and output values responsible for generating an image. In digital graphics it is output versus input.

    The range of colors that can be captured or represented by a device. When a color is outside a device's gamut, the device represents that color as some other color.

    Gamut Compression
    The editing of an image to reduce the color gamut so that the image can be displayed or output within the limits of a particular device.

    Gamut Mapping
    The plotting of an image color gamut into the CIE color space.

    Ganging (a/k/a Gang Scanning)
    Putting a group of images or jobs on the scanner or press at one time.

    A computer server that allows for the connection of different computer networks using protocol conversions.

    Gaussian Blur
    An image-softening effect utilizing a bell shaped Gaussian distribution to apply the softening effect. A "Gaussian" curve (a/k/a "bell curve") is a bell-shaped curve showing a distribution of probability associated with different values of a variate.

    GCR (Gray Component Replacement)
    A type of process color separation which determines the amount of black ink used to replace Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow in areas where those three inks overlap.

    Generation Loss
    The loss of quality that is unavoidable in any type of analog duplication such as an internet. Digital images do not suffer this loss of quality when duplicated.

    Giclée (Fr. "a spraying of ink")
    Term for fine-art digitally produced prints.

    GIF (Graphic Interchange Format)
    An image format type generated specifically for computer use. Its resolution is usually very low (72 dpi, or that of your computer screen), making it undesirable for printing purposes.

    1,073,741,824 or 1 billion bytes.

    Garbage in, garbage out. A computer industry slang term.

    Spectral reflection of light from a surface.

    GPIB (General Purpose Interface Bus)
    A standard interface bus now used largely for computer-to-instrumentation interface..

    Transition between two colors or between black and white. Also known as a gradient.

    The smallest component of a photographic image. A single particle of silver or dye cloud. Collectively, the size of those particles.

    Grand Format/Superwide
    72" or greater width digital print machines or media. Their printing process was usually driven by air, but recent machines may piezo-print directly on a substrate.

    Graphics Accelerator
    A computer expansion board that is specifically designed to increase the performance of graphics software tasks.

    Graphics Tablet
    A device that allows the user to plot position points on a tablet using a pen or stylus to input drawing coordinates.

    An intalglio printing process that uses engraved cylinders. Ink is retained in the engraved areas for printing. It is ideal in long-run work and prints on most substrates.

    Gray levels
    The number of steps available to reproduce a color in an imaging system. Typically, in an 8 bit system there are 256 gray levels per color.

    An image containing a range of gray levels as opposed to only pure black and pure white.

    One of the three additive primary colors of light (Red, Green and Blue).

    GUI (Graphical User Interface)
    Abbreviation for Graphical User Interface, a computer operating or control system that applies graphics for the operator to command the computer with a mouse or stylus.

  • H

    The process of reproducing a continuous tone image as a series of various sized dots within a fixed grid that can be reproduced with ink. The finer the dot grid the higher the quality of the reproduction.

    Halftone Cell
    A square area in a halftone grid that holds an array of printer dots. A halftone cell can represent a discrete number of gray levels equal to the maximum number of printer dots that the halftone cell can hold, plus l. See also halftone dot.

    A bright line tracing the edge of an image. This is usually an anomaly of excessive digital processing to sharpen or compress an image.

    This is a method that allows computers or communications equipment to coordinate transmissions. This is particularly important in higher speed communications.

    HDCP (High Definition Color Printing)
    A specialized color printing process that uses balanced dot frequency and screen rulings as fine as 625 lpi to reproduce near-photographic quality images.

    The portion of a data packet or e-mail preceding the actual information that contains the source and destination address plus error checking fields.

    Heat Transfer
    The movement of a printed image from a holding (or donor) substrate to another surface by applying a certain temperture and pressure.

    Hertz (Hz.)
    A measure of frequency equal to cycles per second.

    A color-matching system that allows for the combination of six colors in order to create a larger gamut of reproducible color.

    Hi-Fi Color
    An alternative printing process that extends the capabilities of printing presses. This system uses stochastic screening, 6-color printing, and other techniques to expand the possible color gamut well beyond that of traditional 4-color processes.

    High Key Image
    An image which is mostly white.

    The brightest/lightest area within an image.

    A graphical display which represents the distribution of tones within an image. The horizontal coordinate represents each pixel value possible from black to white. The vertical values indicate the number of pixels in the image that occur at each value level.

    Hue, luminance and saturation: a color model based on these three coordinates of color, where Hue is the dominant color, Saturation is color purity, and Luminance is the light/dark characteristic of the color.

    A photographic system that uses laser light to expose film to a pattern developed by the interference pattern of the laser and the reflection. When these films are viewed under specific conditions a 3-D image is visible.

    Hop Count
    Number of links (devices) a message goes through in a Packet Switching Network. Each "hop" is the trip to the next router.

    Horizontal Resolution
    The number of vertical lines that a system is capable of producing (counted on a horizontal axis).

    Usually referring to a computer server that can be accessed over a network.

    HSB (Hue, Saturation, and Brightness)
    A color model that utilizes Hue, Saturation, and Brightness as the three coordinates, where Hue is the dominant color, Saturation is the purity of color, and Brightness is a neutral scale of how light or dark a color is.

    HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)
    A series of formatting commands that describes the components of graphics and text material presented on the World Wide Web in a consistent manner.

    HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol)
    The method that is used to retrieve documents on the World Wide Web. This takes place transparent to the user once the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) address is accessed. (For example, DPI is located at

    A component of color notation, or the predominant color.

    Hybrid Imaging
    Electronic imaging systems that mix traditional silver-halide technologies with digital imaging technologies.

    A technology developed by Eastman Kodak Co. that compresses a photographic image by several hundred times, reducing the image to just a few bytes of information. It allows an entire image to be stored in a portion of a barcode or on a magnetic strip.

  • H-channel letter

    A dimensional letter with a cross sectional shape (e.g. like an "H") that allows for the mounting of neon tubing within the lettering itself.

  • I

    I/O Addresses (Input/Output Addresses)
    Locations within the input/output address space of your computer that are used by devices such as printers, modems, or scanners. I/O addresses are used for communications between software and the device to which the address is assigned.

    Mathematical description of the relative spectral power distribution of a real or imaginary light source, that is, the relative energy emitted by a source at each wavelength in its emission spectrum.

    Illuminant A (CIE)
    Incandescent illumination, yellow orange in color, with a correlated color temperature of 2856K. It is defined by its energy output in the wavelength range of 380-770nm.

    Illuminants D(CIE)
    Daylight illuminants, equal in color quality to noon daylight, or equal to a black body heated to 6,500K

    An output device to image bitmap data onto litho film or paper. Comes in drum and flatbed models.

    Indexed Color
    A color system that defines a palate of colors to be used in a specific image. Often this makes images small and manageable.

    Industry-Standard Architecture (ISA)
    An unofficial designation for the bus design based on the IBM PC/AT.

    Ink Adhesion
    The bond between ink and film.

    Ink Limiting
    A control within a program that limits the percentage of ink applied to an area of print.

    Inkjet Printer
    A type of printer that sprays tiny streams of quick-drying ink onto the paper.

    Inkjet, phase change
    This type of inkjet technology uses solid wax inserts instead of traditional inks. The wax is heated to liquidity and deposited onto the substrate through the printhead, where it hardens on contact.

    One who will consult, design, purchase equipment (as a VAR), install, write customized software, train, warranty and maintain digital systems.

    The comparison of the current state of data to its original state. If it has changed, integrity has been breached.

    The amount of light reflected or transmitted by an object with black as the lowest intensity and white as the highest intensity.

    The communication that takes place between a system's hardware and software components. An interconnection between devices.

    The ability of computers from multiple vendors to work together, communicate, and share resources using a common set of protocols. An essential characteristic of modern information technology hardware.

    Interpolated Sample
    A sample that is created by interpolation as opposed to real samples that are created during the scan.

    A technique for increasing the size of a graphic file by creating pixels. Also an extrapolation algorithm. There are two types, sequential and bi-cubic.

    Interrupt Request Line (IRQ)
    A hardware line over which devices can send signals indicating that they are ready to send or receive information (interrupts). Each device that uses interrupts should use a separate IRQ to avoid conflicts.

    Abbreviation for Internet Protocol. A specification for data packets that computers utilize when they communicate using the Internet.

    See Interrupt Request Line.

    ISA (Industry-Standard Architecture)
    An unofficial designation for the bus design of the IBM PC/AT.

    Abbreviation for Integrated Services Digital Network technology that supports both voice and data services over copper telephone lines.

    Abbreviation for the International Standards Organization, which designates international standards.

    A color-calibration target used in many systems to create profiles.

  • J

    The effect caused by images or lines being rendered at too low a resolution. It can easily be defined as a stair-stepped effect giving the line or image a rough appearance.

    (Joint Photographic Experts Group) Standardized image compression format developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group. Usually used for compressing full-color or gray-scale images.

    Just-Noticeable Difference
    In the CIELAB color model, a difference in hue, chroma, or intensity, or some combination of all three, that is apparent to a trained observer under ideal lighting conditions.

  • J-bolt

    A 'J' shaped bolt that is threaded on the long straight portion of the 'J.'

  • JPEG (Joint Photographic Exports Group)

    A common file format for color digital images. The JPEG standard utilizes a 'lossy' data compression method, meaning that in order to reduce the overall size of the file a small amount of sharpness from the original image is sacrificed.

  • K

    Kilobytes per second. A measurement of the speed of data transfer. When this option is selected, numeric readings on a DU Meter will show data throughput in units of 1024 bits per second.

    The name of the absolute temperature scale. Used in imaging to define the quality of a light source by referring to the absolute temperature of a black body that would radiate equivalent energy.

    Kernel Size
    The number of pixels sampled as a unit during image manipulation and
    sharpening processes.

    Adjusting inter-character spacing of letters. Typically for pairs of letters that need special spacing treatment to make them look more aesthetically pleasing.

  • Kelvin

    1. A unit of measure expressed in degrees used to denote the color temperature of a light source. 2. A unit of thermal temperature expressed in degrees.

  • L

    Fast-drying clear coating with plastic, film-former base.

    To apply film to a surface by hand or by mechanical applicators. A web or sheet material formed by bonding materials together.

    Bonding one product to another by pressure for protection or appearance.

    Incandescent, fluorescent tubes or high intensity discharge light sources.


    Local area network
    A small network of a few (or many) computers in one central area.

    A printer, media, or print 24" or greater in width.

    Lay Flat
    Release liner that does not change when exposed to changes in humidity.

    Letter Press
    Printing from a plate having a raised inked surface.

    Electromagnetic radiation of which a human observer is aware through the visual sensations that arise from the stimulation of the retina of the eye. The portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that the human eye can see.

    Light Source
    An object which emits light or radiant energy to which the human eye is sensitive.

    Perception by which white objects are distinguished from gray objects and light- from dark-colored objects.

    Like Differences
    Differences in color or lightness that are of similar magnitude to the average observer.

    Line Art
    1. Single color diagrams or drawings; 2. An image that requires sharp edges and high contrast between areas of the image that have ink and those areas that do not have ink. These images require a higher resolution to create the sharpness that is necessary.

    Line Drawing
    A drawing that consists only of black and white with no intermediate grayscale information.

    Line Dropping
    Subsampling to reduce the number of raster lines in an image by dropping every nth raster line from the scan. See also pixel dropping.

    Line Replication
    Creating more raster lines than are actually scanned by replicating every nth raster line from the scan. See also pixel replication.

    The degree to which the input of a signal is proportional to the output. A measure of geometric distortion.

    See Release Liner.

    A connection to a program or device that you can use to send information to other programs, such as e-mail, electronic fax, and OCR links. Also Internet definition, referring to a URL address that, when "clicked" on, automatically moves the user to a new web site.

    Link Preferences
    The options, such as what program and which file format, you choose to associate with a particular link. These preferences can be customized, depending on the software installed on your computer and your needs for the final file format.

    Linked Program
    A program installed on your computer that you can use with other software.

    A method of printing from a plane surface. The printing image is ink-receptive; the non-printing areas are ink repellent.

    Locking a Disk
    The process of setting a disk or data storage element (Syquest cartridge, optical disk, diskette) into a mode that will prevent computers from writing on to, or deleting from the media, the files that are saved onto the disk. Also known as write protect.

    Lossless Compression
    A compression technique that will retain all of the file's original image characteristics. The perfect lossless compression technique remains elusive.

    Lossy Compression
    A compression technique that will sacrifice some image quality at low levels and continue to degrade more image quality as compression levels increase.

    Low Key
    A photograph or other image whose tonal range is mostly in the shadow regions.

    LPI (Lines Per Inch)
    The number of lines per inch on a halftone screen. As a general rule, the higher the lpi, the higher the printed resolution and quality.

    Abbreviation for line pairs per millimeter.

    Look-Up Tables: A digital processing method to modify data from the input to the output, by using an array of data from a stored table.

    LUX, Foot candles
    A unit used to measure light falling on a surface (illuminance). LUX x .0929 = Foot candles

    The Lempel-Ziv-Welch image compression technique.

  • LCD (liquid crystal display)

    A type of flat panel display that recreates an image or message through the manipulation of electrically sensitive crystals suspended in a liquid medium. Commonly used in electronic message centers.

  • 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.

  • LRV (light reflectance value)

    An indication of the relative amount of light reflected by a given color. For example, yellow has a higher LRV than blue.

  • M

    Macro Mode
    Setting that allows a camera to focus on objects which are very near.

    Magnetic Optical
    Computer storage media, that requires heating by a light beam before a magnetic field can write data.

    To block off a background or other area, so that the unmasked area can be printed, or worked on.

    Technique that allows manipulation of one area of an image while other areas remain unaffected.

    Match Print™
    A direct digital color-proofing process that allows the printer to see the colors desired in the final printing.

    Array of CCD elements especially in the receptor of a digital camera. An array of data points

    Matte Finish
    A low gloss finish. See Flat.

    MCS™ (Matched Component System)
    3M-devised system where one manufacturer makes all the components of a system; film, the ink, the clear coat, the premask, etc.

    Camera-ready-art prepared by conventional means that is ready to be made into halftone negatives or plates.

    Another term for substrate, the materials to be printed, such as watercolor papers, canvas, copper, wood veneer, cotton, plastic.

    Megabyte (MB)
    A million bytes.

    Files that can be shared by more than one application program.

    Two colors that appear the same under certain light conditions while differing under other light conditions.

    MHz (Megahertz)
    A unit of measure for frequency that can relate to the processing speed of a computer. Equal to one million hertz.

    Tones in an image that are in the middle of the tonal range, halfway between the lightest and the darkest.

    Software function that vertically or horizontally reverses an image.

    MO (Magneto-Optical) Disks
    These use a combination of magnetic and optical technology to allow for erasable storage disks.

    Modulation Transfer Function (MTF)
    Measure of the optical response of a scanner or other optical system. See also transfer function.

    An undesirable artifact or pattern that can appear in output film, or a created special effect. It appears as a regular pattern of "clumping" of colors. A moiré pattern is created by juxtapositions of two repetitive graphic structures.

    Monitor Calibration
    The process used to bring a monitor’s display of color, saturation and brightness into synchronization with the final output device, allowing the user to assume that what is seen on the screen will be extremely close to the final output.

    An image made of a range of only one color.

    Moving smoothly from one image to another by having the computer animate a sequence transposing points in the starting image to corresponding points in the final image.

    A graphical user interface for the UNIX operating system.

    A texturing seen in the smooth or monotone areas of an image. This can be due to faulty processing and a number of improperly used digital processes e.g. excessive unsharp masking.

    A single processing channel that simultaneously allows many tasks or outputs.

    A designation that means that data can be written to a CD on more than one occasion.

    Munsell System of Color Notation
    Identifies precise, specific colors and shows relationships among colors, relying upon three attributes: hue, value and chroma. The system consists of over 3 million observations of what people perceive to be like differences in hue, chroma, and intensity, chosing samples they perceived to have like differences.

  • MDO (medium density overlay)

    An exterior grade plywood sheet that has been given a resin-impregnated overlay on one or both sides to improve its paintability.

  • N

    Native Files
    The original computer files, in their original application forms, for a digital graphic or publication; as opposed to an export format, Postscript print to disk format, or other transformed format which can no longer be opened and edited.

    Native Language
    Machine language, or that which is common to a manufacturer.

    Film containing a reversal of an image, such that the values of the original are reversed with light becoming dark, and vice versa.

    A group of computers interconnected by hardware and software.

    Newton Rings
    Concentric multicolored rings that occur when film is in contact with glass; a problem in scanning from negatives or transparencies.

    The point on a laminator or press at which two rolls come together to apply controlled pressure.

    A distortion of an image's analog signal. This distortion be correlated or noncorrelated. Noise is an analog problem that is confined to the analog electronics in a scanner. Once a signal is digitized, it is relatively immune to noise. See also correlate. Also, unrelated data that appears on a scan or digital image.

    Non-Impact Printer
    A printing process that transfers the ink to the paper without pressure.

    Refreshing the monitor screen without using a method that scans odd lines followed by the scanning of the even lines, e.g., scanning every line in sequence.

    A defect where the ink will not cover the film, usually due to a contaminate preventing the ink from "wetting" the surface.

    Noncorrelated Noise
    A random distortion in an analog signal causing snow or speckles—random spots throughout the image. The distortion can be the result of electrical spikes somewhere in the system (the scanner, printer, or monitor).

    Nonrecover-able Error
    A deviation from the original color in an image that cannot be corrected by a mathematical operation using a color-matching function. See also color-matching function, recoverable error.

    A hardware interface in Macintosh computers that allows the connection of various peripherals or specialized circuit boards to the computer. Most Macs now use a PCI bus (See PCI).

  • NEC (National Electric Code)

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

  • 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.

  • OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)

    A U.S. federal government agency that monitors and enforces workplace safety laws.

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

    A U.S. federal government agency that monitors and enforces workplace safety laws.

  • P

    Page Layout
    The process and software that prepares artwork, text and other elements to be collected and prepared for printing within a specific area.

    Electronic formatting of multiple pages in a file for output.

    PAL (Phase Alternate Line)
    A 625-line 50 Hz TV standard used in most of Europe and Australia. (See NTSC)

    The number of colors a device is capable of displaying and producing. Also the tools used in paint programs.

    Also called a tile. A division of a job based on a device's production area.

    A company producing numerous color matching systems for print and computer applications. The PMS® color-matching system is commonly used to represent 3,000 distinct colors through a numbering system.

    Pantone ® Matching System (PMS®)
    A printing industry-standard set of color inks, formulated for various forms of printing.

    Parallel Cable
    The cable connection between the computer and another device’s parallel ports (usually a printer), which allows a computer to send several bits of data simultaneously.

    Parallel Port
    A connector on your computer that allows you to connect to other devices, such as a printer. Another name for parallel port is LPT port.

    A set of binary digits (odd or even). A code of binary digits in which the total number of digits in each expression is deliberately kept odd or even by the addition of an extra digit whenever necessary, used for error checking (now obsolete).

    See Active-Matrix Display

    PCI (Peripheral Component Interface) Bus
    A 32-bit pathway used to connect peripherals or specialized circuit boards to the CPU.

    PCL (Printer Control Language)
    The printer language that drives HP DeskJet, HP LaserJet, and other Hewlett-Packard printers. PCL defines a standard set of commands enabling programs to communicate with HP or HP-compatible printers.

    PCMCIA Cards (Personal Computer Memory Card Information Association)
    A storage memory or connection device the shape of a thick credit card, inserted into a specially designed slot of a computer. Most often found with portable computers; now referred to commonly as PC cards.

    PDF (Portable Document Format)
    An electronic document format from Adobe that allows the distribution of digital files across any platform that can display a document as originally designed and formatted without having the software application or fonts on the viewing computer.

    Page description language: A programming language that describes the format for printing a page. PDL files can be printed on any device that supports it.

    A family powerful Intel microprocessor chips for IBM PC's and compatibles.

    Performance Life
    Useful life or life as determined and defined by specification.

    Any of a number of hardware devices that extend or enhance the performance of the computer and are not part of the CPU, though some are mounted inside the case of the computer.

    Permanent Adhesive
    Any adhesive that is difficult to remove after application without leaving adhesive on the substrate.

    Phase Change Printer
    An inkjet printer where the ink starts as a solid which is then heated and liquefied, and the sprayed onto the substrate.

    Photo CD
    A Kodak process for scanning images and storing them on CD in a format known as Photo CD.

    Photo Response Nonuniformity (PRNU)
    Pixel-to-pixel variation in the response of a CCD array to a fixed-intensity light. Ideally, the response to each CCD element in the array is identical; deviations from that response are caused by PRNU.

    Photo YCC
    A color standard established by Eastman Kodak that is used to define the color space for digital imaging in Photo CD and desktop publishing.

    An instrument for measuring luminous intensity, luminous flux, illumination, or intensity.

    Picture file format.

    An inkjet printing technology that uses a material that moves to pump the ink out when subject to an electric charge instead of heat to drive microdroplets through the nozzle.

    The color substance in inks that absorbs and/or reflects light, generally more light stable than dyes.

    Pincushion Distortion
    A distortion where the image compresses toward the center with distortion most noticed at the center of horizontal or vertical edges.

    Small, dot-like failures of a printed ink to form a continuous film. Small holes in the high density area of a litho film.

    The smallest unit of data in a digital image. Together, the small discrete elements constitute an image that can be seen on a monitor or printed on a substrate. A pixel's code contains information relating to color and placement within the larger image.

    Pixel Depth
    The number of bits of tonal range capability assigned to the pixels in an image. For example RGB 24 bit color means a pixel depth of 24 bits, 8 bits or 256 levels per color.

    Pixel Dropping
    Subsampling to reduce the number of pixels in an image by dropping every nth pixel from the scan.
    A/k/a pixel skipping.

    Pixel Replication
    Creating more pixels than are actually scanned by replicating every nth pixel to create the n+ 1 pixel.

    Graininess in an image that results when the pixels are too big.

    Pixels Per Inch (PPI)
    A measure of the density of scanned information in an image. The finer the optics of the scanner, the higher the scan resolution.

    Plasma Display
    A display screen that has a gas contained between two panels. When specific x-axis (horizontal) and y-axis (vertical) dots on the panels are electrically charged, the gas in that area glows.

    Refers to the particular proprietary computer hardware design. This can be a Intel, Windows, MacIntosh, Sun, Mainframe, etc.

    A term applied to a peripheral unit that, through computer control, prints data via the Cartesian (X/Y) coordinate system.

    Plug and Play
    The ability to install equipment with little or no setup

    Photo Multiplier Tube, the light sensor in a drum scanner. PMTs are significantly more sensitive to low light levels than CCDs.

    A unit of measurement used in the graphic arts industry. There are 12 points to a Pica. One point equals approximately 1/72 inch. See "Postscript Point."

    Point of Presence (POP)
    The location of an access point to the Internet. A POP necessarily has a unique Internet (IP) address. An Internet service provider (ISP) or online service provider (OSP) has a point-of-presence on the Internet. A POP may actually reside in rented space owned by the telecommunications carrier such as AT&T or Sprint to which the ISP is connected. A POP usually includes routers, digital/analog call aggregators, servers, and frequently frame relay or ATM switches.

    Point Of Purchase Display (P.O.P.)
    sign or display used in close proximity to the actual retail product being sold. Also known as Point Of Sale (POS).

    Pointer Tool
    The tool on the Annotation Tool Bar for selecting an annotation to cut, copy, or paste.

    An outlet or connection on a computer which allows a peripheral device to communicate with the computer. For example, a communications port (COM port) allows the modem to operate, and a local port (LPT) enables the printer to operate.

    Portable Document Viewer
    A mini-program that can be attached to an electronic document and e-mailed. The recipient will be able to view, annotate, and print the document, no matter what program was used to create the document.

    Portrait, Portrait Mode
    The orientation of an image that is taller than it is wide; a setting controlling an output device to properly fit a computer document to the print medium. Vertical.

    Characteristic of allowing a marking to be moved after initial contact by use of a combination of a two-step adhesive system. A low-tack adhesive is on the surface for moving a marking; then, under pressure, a higher-tack adhesive is released to permanently set the marking.

    A special effect created by using a limited number of gray levels within an image. In computers it is created by setting a defined number of gradient steps in a bitmapped image.

    A page description programming language created by Adobe. that is a device-independent industry standard for outputting documents and graphics.

    PostScript Point
    A slight revision to the "Point" measurement unit. A Postscript point is exactly 1/72 of an inch. Most graphics software utilizes this refined value for a point.

    An Adobe programming language that enables text and graphic images to be output from different devices with consistent and predictable results.

    A powerful microprocessor chip jointly developed by Apple, IBM and Motorola. It will emulate every popular PC operating system including Apple Mac, OS, OS/2, Windows, DOS, and UNIX.

    Refers to PostScript Page Description, a small file used to describe a particular printer’s characteristics and capabilities to a graphics or word-processing software.

    PPP (Point to Point Protocol)
    A communications protocol typically used to connect a computer to the Internet using a modem.

    Abbreviation for Point To Point Tunneling Protocol. A protocol that enables Virtual Private Networks over the Internet (e.g. allows you to have a private network without investing in one).

    PRAM - Parameter RAM or parameter random access memory
    A special battery-powered form of RAM where vital system information such as the date and time are stored. PRAM also contains computer configuration information, such as what's connected to each port on the computer. Because PRAM is powered by an internal battery, the information isn't lost when you turn the computer off as it is with regular RAM.

    A process of checking a job for possible problems before the job is sent for final output. This process is used to find problems such as missing fonts, postscript errors and color problems.

    Application tape to help application and protect markings.

    The process of getting an image ready to go on press. Digital prepress denotes the entire preparation of a digital file for printing in either a digital or conventional system.

    Pressure Sensitive (PS)
    The ability of an adhesive to be activated by pressure and requires no heat, solvent, or other preparation for adhesion to smooth, clean surfaces.

    Pressure Sensitive Adhesive (PSA)
    A viscoclastic material that is l. aggressively and permanently tacky; 2. adheres without the need of more than a finger or hand pressure; and 3. requires no activation by water, solvent or heat.

    Pressure Sensitive Pen
    A tool that allows for information to be put into the computer with a stylus in a manner similar to writing or drawing.

    Primary Color
    A color that is the basis for all other color combinations. The primary colors are Red, Green and Blue (RGB) in light; Cyan, Magenta and Yellow (CMY) in color photographic printing. In offset color printing, black (K) is added to CMY inks to create more accurate color.

    Print On Demand (POD)
    The ability to economically and efficiently print documents or images to order as needed.

    Printer Dot
    The individual pixel in a halftone image. The size of a printer dot is variable, ranging from zero (all white) to the size of the halftone screen (all black). See also halftone cell, halftone dot.

    Devices with the ability to print and perform vector cutting on an image, usually on vinyl, and made by Roland DGA Corp., Graphtec Corp. and other firms.

    PRNU (Photo Response Nonuniformity)
    Pixel-to-pixel variation in the response of a CCD array to a fixed-intensity light. Ideally, the response to each CCD element in the array is identical; deviations from that response are caused by PRNU.

    Process Color
    The process colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) are used in traditional color printing to reproduce a full color range.

    A database or file of values that apply to a device, to allow its color reproduction match other devices, its color capability equivalent to other imagers in the same process.

    Progressive Scan
    A non-interlaced refresh system for monitors that cuts down on CRT flicker.

    A print used to evaluate the entire production process prior to printing.

    The design of programs, systems or equipment that are owned by an entity. This technology may be licensed for use in other applications or systems.

    The set of conventions between communication lines. It exists to exchange information between a host computer and its interface. The way information is placed on a network. The steps needed to communicate or activate an operation or exchange of information in or between computers.

    A representative version or sample of a larger image.

    Proxy Image
    A low-resolution image used in any software programs to show the effects of changes without performing transformations on high resolution files.

  • PMS (Pantone Matching System)

    A standardized color scheme used in the printing industry to ensure the consistency of color from design to final print.

  • POP (point of purchase) 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."

  • PPI (pixels per inch)

    The number of pixels in a raster image that will occur in one line in the span of one inch. The higher the PPI, the greater the resolution and the less distinguishable each pixel becomes.

  • Pantone Matching System (PMS)

    A standardized color scheme used in the printing industry to ensure the consistency of color from design to final print.

  • Plexiglas

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

  • Q

    Quality Factor
    Q is a measure of the ratio of pixels per halftone screen ruling. A factor of 2 would require a scanning 2 pixels per screen line.

    Quantization Error
    The artificial forcing of like gray levels to the same gray level as a result of limited tonal resolution in a scanner. Quantization Error is most often seen in the shadow portion of scanned images. See also tonal resolution.

    The line of events scheduled to occur with a computer or peripheral.

    A standard keyboard layout based on the American standard typewriter. (Named for the top left row of letter keys.)

    An application for audio visual presentations, available in Macintosh and PC versions, so the presentation itself is device independent.

  • R

    Radiant Energy
    For imaging use, visible light, infrared, and ultra-violet. In the broad sense it includes everything from gamma rays to radio waves.

    RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks)
    A performance-enhancing group of disks that work together to speed data transfer and access. (Various RAID systems also provide data protection against hard drive failure.)

    RAM (Random Access Memory)
    The high-speed portion of the computer’s memory that is held on special chips for use in current applications or procedures. (RAM is said to be volatile if, when power is disrupted, the stored information is lost.)

    Random Noise
    See non-correlated noise.

    RAS (Remote Access Server)
    A server that allows access to various computers through modems.

    The process of rendering an image or page, pixel by pixel, in a sweeping horizontal motion, one line after another.

    Raster Image
    An image that is defined as a collection of pixels arranged in a rectangular array of lines of dots or pixels. See "Bitmap."

    Raster Line
    A thin horizontal strip across an image. Raster lines are captured one at a time by the scanner. When displayed or printed in sequence, raster lines make up the image.

    Changing vector-type image information to raster image information.

    Rasterized Type
    Type that has rough or stair-stepped edges. The type does not appear smooth because it has been rendered at a resolution that is too low.

    Raw Data
    Data that is not formatted or processed.

    The concept of seeing on the screen the actions of the computer as though the activity were happening at a natural pace.

    The process of turning a computer system or printer off and then back on again, to reload the software and data.

    The fraction of the light incident on a surface that is reflected and varies according to the wavelength distribution of the light.

    Reflectance, Specular
    Mirror-like reflectance. The magnitude of the specular reflectance on glossy materials depends on the angle and on the scattering of the light by an uneven surface.

    Reflectance, Total
    Reflectance of radiant flux reflected at all angles from the surface, thus including both diffuse and specular reflectances.

    Reflection Densitometer
    An instrument that measures the amount of light reflected from the surface of a substrate, referenced against the amount of incident light, reflection density is the inverse log10 of the reflectance, the angle of illumination, and the sensing area specified as 90°, 45° respectively..

    Refers to print material that is viewed with the light on the same side of the image as the viewer.

    Refresh Rate
    The rate at which an image is redrawn on a CRT. This is needed because the phosphors at each pixel are stimulated by the electron gun for only a brief time. The faster the refresh rate, the more stable an image will appear on the screen.

    A distinct area of a scan.

    Region Tool
    A tool used to select or clear an automatically-identified or previously-created region. The region tool is also used to manually create a border, adjust borders, and drag and drop a region to a destination.

    Removable Media
    Any storage medium that can be removed from a digital camera or computer (i.e. PC Cards, floppy disks).

    Applying shading and lighting effects to a two dimensional image.

    A measurement of the "fineness" of detail reproduction given in line pairs per mm, or pixels per inch. A definition of resolution in terms of pixels per inch.

    Changing the resolution of a bitmap file without altering its physical size.

    Change of reproduction size. It is generally possible to resize files so prints can be made either smaller or larger. Significant up sizing is usually not successful, but an adjustment of up to 20 percent is acceptable.

    The particular pixel density of an image, or the number of dots per inch a device is capable of recognizing or producing. See "DPI" and "PPI."

    Removing imperfections or unwanted portions of an image.

    A color model using red, green, and blue; the additive primary colors. Video display systems use RGB data to create screen images.

    RIFF (Raster Image File Format)
    A storage format used with gray-scale images.

    RIP (Raster Image Processing)
    A process using mathematical algorithms to manipulate and print an image. Also, this software often includes "add-on" features, such as color-calibration software, various pattern selections, tools or a print-instruction screen.

    RlSC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing)
    A computer design that speeds up processing by using simpler instructions.

    ROM (Read-Only Memory)
    A memory type that cannot be changed or rewritten, and will not lose information when a computer is shut down.

    The pattern created in a color halftone by the placement of dots of different hues.

    A standard for serial communications.

    RTF (Rich Text Format)
    A format that accepts both text and images, and retains text formatting and page layout.

  • S

    Small computer System Interface, an interface that allows the attaching of hard disks and other high-performance peripherals to a computer.

    SDRAM - Synchronous DRAM
    A generic name for DRAM that is synchronized with the clock speed that the microprocessor is optimized for. The speed of SDRAM is rated in MHz rather than in nanoseconds (ns).

    S-RAM CD (Static Random Access Memory CD)
    An inexpensive but physically large form of RAM that is very fast. Due to cost it is used in limited applications.

    S-VGA (Super Video Graphics Array)
    A video display format common to PCs.

    Sampling Rate
    The number of points of data, in pixels per inch, that are created by a scanner per linear distance. In this book, sampling rate means the optical sample rate changed by interpolation or subsampling. Also called ppi rate. See also optical sampling rate.

    A measure of purity of color. Saturated colors contain pure color only, colors desaturate to gray. Saturation is a measure of the degree of pureness or movement away from gray.

    To enlarge or reduce an image by increasing or decreasing the number of scanned pixels, or the sampling rate, relative to the number of samples per inch needed by the printer or other output device. See also interpolation.

    The process of translating a picture from artwork or transparency into digital information.

    Scan Linearity
    The degree to which a plot of scanned reflectance or transmittance vs. absolute reflectance or transmittance is a straight line. Deviations in this plot either above or below a straight line represent tones that are recorded by the scanner as too light or too dark.

    Scan Rate (Refresh Rate)
    The rate that a display changes its image in a given time.

    To produce "instant" posters, banners or other wide-format output, this type of inkjet system scales, interpolates and diffuses bitmapped images captured by a scanner. The information is then sent directly to a printing device.

    A hardware peripheral that illuminates, reads and then converts original text, artwork or film into digital data. Types of scanners include flatbed or drum.

    Scanner Glass
    The glass surface on top of the scanner where you put items to scan.

    A graphics format common to film recorders.

    3M's Electrostatic Graphics System designed for transferring the image onto vinyl or other media.

    A halftone screen on film used in conjunction with photographic film or paper to produce a halftone image from continuous tone art.

    Screen Angles
    In half-tone printing, the coordinated placement of screens to avoid moiré patterns on the final image. The most commonly used angles are: Black = 45 degrees; Magenta = 75 degrees; Yellow = 90 degrees; Cyan = 105 degrees.

    Screen Frequency
    The measure of lines on a screen given in lines per unit measure as in LPI.

    Screen Ruling
    The resolution of a screen measured in lines per unit measure.

    The process of using screens or digital methods to create representations of continuous tone images in the form of dots in varying densities.

    The technique of applying material (usually screen printing ink) to a surface by forcing it through a stretched fabric that has a stencil applied.

    SCSI (Small Computer System Interface)
    SCSI is a standard method of connecting devices to computers. For example, SCSI is used for connecting a peripheral device, such as an external hard drive or a tape backup system to a computer.

    SCSI Port
    The connection used by SCSI devices to connect to the CPU. Often SCSI devices are used in a series called a "Scuzzie Chain."

    Abbreviation for Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line. Allows for broadband digital service over copper wires. See also ADSL, HDSL, and RADSL.

    Secondary Color
    The subtractive primaries. Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow.

    Selection Tool
    An annotation tool used to select part of an item to cut and paste to the Clipboard.

    Self Adhesive
    Generally, the same as pressure sensitive, in that it has pre-applied adhesive on one or both sides.

    The actual splitting of an image into the colors that will be used in the printing process. Normally, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK) are the separations for 4-color printing.

    Sequential Interpolation
    Line replication of pixels.

    Serial Communication
    An interface between computers and peripherals that transfers one bit of data at a time. A COM port usually meeting the RS232C specification.

    Serial Port
    A connection that allows a computer to send data to a printer one bit at a time.

    One computer that acts as a networking device for many interconnected computers.

    Service Bureau
    A company that typically offers custom print-output services, which can include digital color graphics.

    SGO (Second Generation Original)
    An output from the imaging process producing transparencies or negative that will serve as an original in other operations.

    The brightness or luminance of an image when compared to a gray scale.

    Dark areas of an image.

    Shadow Detail
    Subtle features in the darker part of an image.

    Shadow Point
    The darkest tone printable in an image without being black. All tonal values below this threshold will print as black, with no detail.

    Sharpen Edges
    An image editor technique to enhance the edges of an object.

    1. A picture enhancement making the image have more distinct borders, areas, lines or tones. 2. An option on some scanners that emphasizes detail by increasing the contrast of the boundaries between light and dark areas of an image.

    Sharpening Filters
    A series of digital processes or algorithms that will enhance the sharpness of an image. Each operates slightly differently and is more or less desirable to produce a different effect.

    Shear Adhesion
    Measure of internal strength of an adhesive; i.e. "cohesive" strength.

    Shelf Life
    Length of time a product will remain in a useable condition after being received by a customer.

    Shutter Speed
    The shutter speed controls how long the film or digital sensor is exposed to light, in a camera.

    Signal-To-Noise Ratio
    The ratio of the usable signal to noise in a scan. A high degree of noise can mask the shadow detail in an image regardless of tonal resolution. See also noise, shadow detail, tonal resolution.

    In offset printing, the printed sheet containing a number of different pages that have been arranged to allow; through folding, trimming, and binding; the creation of a multi-page finished piece.

    A masking or image blocking that isolates and image from the background.

    Silk Screen
    An archaic term for screen printing, since most screen printing is done with synthetic-fabric screens. The prefered method for long term outdoor durable decals.

    SIMM (Single Inline Memory Module)
    Used to add additional RAM memory to computers. A group of memory chips on a printed circuit board; this allows them to be plugged in as a unit.

    A 35mm transparency.

    Continuous cutting of film to make narrower rolls from wider ones.

    Small Computer System Interface (SCSI)
    An interface that lets you attach hard disks and other high-performance peripherals to computers.

    A slang term for physically carrying disks from unit to unit to transfer data.

    Soft Proof
    Viewing a digital image with a monitor instead of generating a hard copy proof. Can be done from a remote location via the Internet.

    Soft-Edge Masking
    A technique used to isolate a portion of an image with an edge that allows for a smoother transition to areas around the masked part.

    A substance capable of dissolving something. A substance that dissolves another to form a solution 1. Liquid used to thin paint or cement. 2. A cleaning agent.

    Solvent Activated
    Requires addition of solvent to the adhesive to allow bonding of adhesive to the substrate; i.e. not pressure activated.

    Sound Card
    An optional computer circuit card for PC's. It provides high-quality stereo sound output under program control. A "multimedia" PC usually includes a sound card.

    SPARC (Scalable Process Advanced RlSC Computer or Scalable Performance Architecture)
    A workstation series from Sun Microsystems.

    Spatial Resolution
    The smallest feature of an image that can be detected as a fraction of the total image.

    A pixel that is abnormally lighter than the surrounding area. This is usually the result of CCD noise in shadow areas.

    Spectral Power Distribution Curve
    Intensity of radiant energy as a function of wavelength, generally given in relative power terms.

    Spectral Sensitivity
    The relationship between the radiant sensitivity and the wavelength of incident light.

    Photometric device for the measurement of spectral transmittance, spectral reflectance, or relative spectral emittance. Spectrophotometers are normally equipped with dispersion optics (prism or grating) to give a continuous spectral curve.

    Spectrophotometric Curve
    A curve drawn from the measurements of a spectrophotometer; hence a graph of relative reflectance or transmittance (or absorption) as the ordinate, plotted versus wavelength or frequency as the abscissa.

    |Spatial arrangement of components of radiant energy in order of their wavelengths, wave number or frequency.

    Specular Gloss
    Relative luminous fractional reflectance from a surface in the mirror or specular direction. It is sometimes measured at 60_relative to a perfect mirror.

    Specular Highlight
    The brightest white possible on a film or substrate. This area contains no image data at all.

    Specular Reflectance Excluded (SCE)
    Measurement of reflectance made in such a way that the specular reflectance is excluded from the measurement; diffuse reflectance.

    Specular Reflectance Included (SCI)
    Measurement of the total reflectance from a surface, including the diffuse and specular reflectances.

    Spline CurveBeziér Curve.
    The linking of a series of points on a graph with an arc that is mathematically plotted.

    A function of the computer that collects output instructions and data and store them in memory before sending them to a printer.

    Spot Colors
    These colors are printed as solid areas and used when fewer than four colors are needed or when the four-color process (CMYK) is unable to accurately reproduce a color.

    In offset printing, a term describing a trapping relationship between a foreground element, and a background color or element. To create a trap between a fore-ground element that knocks out a background, the foreground may be "spread" or slightly enlarged

    Standard Colormetric Observer
    An entity described by the CIELAB color model consisting of three spectral-sensitivity curves called color-matching functions. See also CIELAB, color-matching function, spectral sensitivity.

    Standard Deviation
    A measure of dispersion of a frequency distribution.

    Status T
    The accepted standard of spectral response for wideband reflection densitometers.

    Step and Repeat
    The process of duplicating an image into a fixed position for use in a printing process. This procedure can take place within a computer prior to printing.

    Low-cost, short-term graphics usually printed on inexpensive, adhesive-coated paper, vinyl or vinyl impregnated paper.

    Stochastic / FM Screening
    An alternative to traditional halftone dots, this random-placement dot strategy is used to render enlarged images on large-format printing devices. Unlike halftone, the dots are of a uniform size, darker areas have more dots packed closer together.

    Stock Photos
    An already existing picture that can be purchased for use instead of having a photograph specifically made.

    Streak Noise
    Vertically correlated noise in a scan. See also correlated noise.

    A sequence of bits of data making up a command or file.

    The process of assembling individual elements to make a composite page for use in the offset printing process.

    A term referring to a line segment in a graphics program. Lines or "strokes" can be straight or curved, open or closed.

    Stroke Width
    The thickness or thinness of a letter stroke or bar, horizontal or vertical.

    An archiving compression product that emphasizes maximum compression for files and folders. Used for backups, file transfers and access to files compressed or encoded on non-Macintosh platforms.

    A tool that is used on a graphic input tablet as a drawing instrument, or as a mouse.

    To access and use a small portion of an image file.

    Scanning at a less than optimum sampling rate. See also oversampling.

    Ultimately, the material that receives the printed image. Sometimes called "media."

    Subtractive Color/Reflective Color
    The term refers to the CMYK color space used by conventional and digital printing devices to produce full-color printing. (See also, CMYK.)

    Subtractive Primaries
    These are the three colors that are used to create all other colors in color photographic printing. (Cyan, Magenta and Yellow)

    Summary Information
    Information about the item, such as the creator or keywords, which can be added in the Summary Information dialog box to help you find the item quickly.

    To place one element over another to create stacking of images or overlays.

    Super VGA is a higher quality video format.

    SWOP (Specifications for Web Offset Printing)
    Refers to a set of standards for conveying and representing color information. This standard is based on the characteristics of web-offset presses.

    SyQuest™ Cartridges
    A particular type of magnetic removable storage disks.

    Systems Integrator
    A company that integrates various products made by several manufacturers into a single operating system.

  • T

    Tablet (Graphics Tablet)
    An input device that uses a stylus or specialized mouse to write or draw on the tablet surface to communicate with the computer.

    The property which enables the adhesive to from a unit with the surface of another material upon brief contact under light pressure. "Stickiness".

    Tape Storage
    A mass storage device that uses removable magnetic tape as a medium.

    Truevision Advanced Raster Graphics Adapter is a graphics expansion board and type of file format for exchanging 24-bit color files.

    Terminal Control Protocol/Internet Protocol
    TCP/IP originated in UNIX environment and is the basis of Internet communications. It is supported as a secondary network protocol by nearly all vendors because its networks can be joined with many gateways and bridges.

    Tear Strength
    Property measured by the force required to tear a specimen under specified test conditions.

    1,099,511,627,776 bytes of computer memory.

    A device that prevents data signal reflection from the end of an electrical conductor. This ensures that the reflected signals do not mix with the primary signals and confuse any devices that need the data being sent on the conductor. Functions as an end cap on a cable.

    Texture Mapping
    Putting a texture or image file on the surface of a 3-D computer image.

    Impressing a pattern into the surface of a film or paper.

    Thermal Autochrome
    An image printing technology developed by Fuji Photo Film that requires no water or chemicals to process. The color dyes are in a special paper and are activated by heat.

    Thermal Film
    Heat-sensitive film that carries an image from a thermal imagesetter. When this clear film encounters heat, it turns black and is transformed to an imaged positive.

    Thermal Transfer
    A printer technology that uses heat to transfer colored dye, wax or resin onto paper.

    Thermal Wax Printing
    A medium-resolution color output device that must first separate the color information for continuous tone and spot color into three or four primaries, and are printed in multiple passes, one for each color. A/k/a thermal wax transfer.

    Thermal-Transfer Printer
    A machine that digitally prints by transferring inks (resin or wax based) from a foil (or ribbon) onto media such as paper or vinyl.

    A value to which a signal is compared when digitizing images.

    A small, low-resolution version of an image.

    TIE (Tagged Image Extraction)
    A technology that extracts only the part of the image from a server needed for display on a screen. This is used to reduce network traffic when viewing an image.

    Tagged Image File Format. A type of image file format, TIFF files can include color or grayscale The quality of the image is determined by its resolution or dpi. Especially useful for graphics that will be used in many applications or on more than one computer platform.

    The process of breaking down an image or page into sections for editing or printing purposes.

    Some percentage of a solid ink. Tints are created by using a screen to create the impression of a lighter color when the ink is printed onto paper or another medium.

    Token Ring
    A type of network that has significant advantages over Ethernet. It enhances network performance in image-intensive environments. A LAN standard equal to IEEE 802.5.

    Tonal Resolution
    The number of bits per pixel used in the digital representation of an image. The intensity and color of each pixel in the image are represented by an integer value or set of integer values.

    Tone Curves
    See Gamma curves. A representation of the tonal range of an image showing the progress from black to white. Some image editors allow these to be adjusted for fine tuning of the image.

    A colored powder or liquid used to print onto various materials on non-impact printers, such as electrostatics, and contains a colorant, an electrostatic thermoplastic, charge control agent, and often a magnetic material.

    The coating applied to the surface of inkjet or other substrates during the manufacturing process. The topcoat enhances ink adhesion and other performance characteristics; it also helps to control dot gain, drying time and moisture resistance.

    The adjustment of the overall spacing between all text characters in a word or words.

    Trade Shop
    A color separation company that produces halftone films for platemaking used in offset lithography and other printing processes.

    Transfer Function
    The capability of a device to transmit frequencies.

    Transfer Rate
    The rate at which data can be transferred, usually expressed as Kilobits per second (Kbps) or megabytes per second (Mbps). Baud.

    A color-space exchange from one system (RGB to CMYK) to another, or changing from one hue base to another.

    The portion of a signal between a first nominal state and a second nominal state.

    Diffuse transmission of light. No clear image can be seen.

    Transmission Densitometer
    An instrument that measures the fraction of light that is transmitted through film from a measured light source, expressed as the inverse log of the percent transmission.

    The fraction of the light that passes through an object.

    Transparency Guide
    A plastic template or form for holding and positioning transparencies on the scanner copyboard glass and for protecting the scanner calibration area.

    Transparency, Museum Quality
    High-quality reproduction requires copy transparencies made by photographers experienced in art reproduction. Lighting is very important in terms of evenness, color, and lack of any specular highlights.

    Adjective to describe a material which transmits light with minimal diffusion or scattering.

    An overlap between abutting colors/elements. Traditionally done by using chokes and spreads, but graphics software gives users the ability to do trapping for type and objects.

    Trilinear Scanner
    A scanning device that uses three linear array charge coupled devices utilizing red, green and blue filters to capture color scans in a single pass.

    1. Of, or consisting of, three stimuli; generally used to describe components of additive mixture required to evoke a particular color sensation. 2. Colorimeter: An instrument which measures tristimulus values and converts them to chromaticity components of color.

    Tristimulus Values, CIE
    Amounts (in percent) of the three components necessary in a three-color additive mixture required for matching a color; in the CIE system, they are designated as X, Y, and Z.

    A color-matching system similar to Pantone.

    1. The metal that lamp filaments are made of. 2. Sometimes refers to the color temperature in degrees Kelvin that simulates a common photo lamp (3200K).

    A bundled-product package that is operable right out of the box without any additional purchases.

    An industry-standard for scanners and software. Using a TWAIN-compliant scanner with a TWAIN-compliant program, you can initiate a scan from within the program.

    Placing between or interpolating the area between pixels.

    Two-Way Markings
    A marking with clear adhesive that can be viewed on the first surface or through the adhesive.

    Text-only format. This format is useful for text if you do not need to retain the formatting.

    The style and design of a particular alphabet.

  • TCO (Temporary Certificate of Occupancy)

    This typically allows a new building to be occupied before it is fully complete and therefore requires life safety signs to be in place to protect the public at large.

  • TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf)

    This communication system enables visual typographic messages to be transmitted and received over telephone lines. ADA requires use of symbols to show where TDD unit is available.

  • TIFF (tagged image file format)

    standard graphics file format used for scanned bit-mapped images.

  • TPM (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.

  • Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD)

    This communication system enables visual typographic messages to be transmitted and received over telephone lines. The ADA requires use of symbols to show where TDD unit is available.

  • U

    U.V. Curable Ink
    Inks that become fixed/set by exposure to a ultra violet source.

    U.V. Resistant
    Combats degradation by ultra violet; i.e. maintains original characteristics longer than non-U.V. resistant materials.

    UCR (Under Color Removal)
    The removal of cyan, magenta and yellow from neutral color areas (primarily shadow tones) and their replacement with black.

    Undercolor Gray Removal.

    Ultraviolet Light (U.V.)
    Radiant energy with wave lengths slightly shorter than the visible spectrum. Found in sunlight, causes color fading.

    Underwriter's Laboratories (U.L.)
    A non-profit corporation operating in the public interest, endeavoring to maintain safety standards in electrical equipment and appliances. Licensed use of its label requires close adherence to their specifications.

    Uniform Chromaticity Scale Diagram
    Any one of a variety of transformations of the CIE chromaticity diagram on which all pairs of just noticeably different colors of equal luminance are represented by pairs of points separated by nearly equal distances.

    Uniform Color Scale
    A scale wherein the units of color difference that are judged to be equally different, are separated by nearly equal distances.

    Uniform Color Space
    Three-dimensional space wherein all pairs of colors judged to be equally different, are separated by nearly equal distances.

    Universal Serial Bus. A recent standard for high speed data transmission between a computer and accessories such as scanners or printers.

    A multi-tasking operating system invented by AT&T and found in powerful computers developed by companies such as Sun MicroSystems, Silicon Graphics, Hewlett-Packard and others. It allows a computer to perform several intensely complex tasks at the same.

    Unsharp Mask
    A sharpening process that first blurs the edges then subtracts the image from the blurred areas to yield a image of enhanced sharpness.

    To decompress a file (usually text) using PKUNZIP or WinZip, two popular programs.

    To improve some aspect of a computer system. Upgrades include the newest versions of software applications, computer models or peripheral devices. Usually, upgrades are denoted by a version number.

    Unsharp Masking Value. A measure from white to black, the higher the value, the darker the image.

    UV Inks
    Inks that contain pigments or other methods to resist UV fade from direct sunlight and other UV light sources.

    UV Resistance
    The resistance to fading under direct sunlight and other UV light sources.

  • UV resistance

    Ability to withstand decay due to the damaging effect of the ultraviolet rays of the sun.

  • V

    Indicates the degree of lightness or darkness of a color in relation to a neutral gray scale. The scale of value ranges from 0 for pure black to 10 for pure white.

    A term referring to "Not-Yet-Released" software.

    An acronym for value-added retailer. In the electronic imaging marketplace, it is common practice for a dealer or integrator to sell various brands of components, sometimes being responsible for their connectivity, training and service.

    VDR (Video Disk Recorder)
    A device that records to video disk medium.

    A term given to a graphic drawing, specified as a color, start and end point, and applied to line segments, type and tints.

    Vector Graphics
    Drawing software. Vector graphics files are usually stored in formats such as PICT or EPS.

    Vector Image
    A computer image that uses mathematical descriptions of paths and fills to define the graphic, as opposed to individual pixels.

    VGA (Video Graphics Array)
    A mid-level resolution video display monitor.

    Video Board
    An expansion board that processes video signals for display on the monitor.

    Video Prints
    A print made directly from video output instead of from a computer RIP.

    A transition from one color or intensity to another.

    Film from resins made of vinyl monomers.

    Vinyl Ink
    An ink designed for use on vinyl films, usually solvent-based.

    Having the "appearance" of existence as opposed to actual reality, i.e. 3-D form.

    Virtual Memory
    A system of managing RAM and disk space so that a computer appears to have more RAM memory than it actually does. Data is moved back and forth between the system memory and disk.

    Virtual Reality
    Interactive 3D graphics. Simulates realism to users in application areas ranging from scientific visualization and visual simulation to high-definition design and digital film production.

    An malicious implant put into software that can cause failures of systems such as data or memory loss.

    An instrument to measure the viscosity (resistance to flow) of a liquid.

    The term used to describe the degree of fluidity of a liquid.

    Volatile Memory
    Non-permanent memory (RAM) that is lost when the computer is turned off if not saved to the hard disk or peripheral storage device.

    VRAM (Video Random Access Memory)
    RAM that receives video display data from the software and operating system, and transfers it to the video display hardware. VRAM operates faster than DRAM.

  • W

    WAN (Wide Area Network)
    A type of network used to link several LANs through gateways and bridges.

    A term meaning to affect color or tint by adding saturation or chroma.

    The ability of a material to withstand the effects of exposure to weather conditions, significant change in physical or chemical properties.

    The result of combining the additive primary colors (Red, Green and Blue).

    White Balance
    The balancing of color components to create pure white when scanning a white object. A substitute for a color temperature setting.

    White Point
    The color that when scanned produces values of 255, 255, 255 in an 8-bit scanner. Ideally the white point is 100% neutral reflectance or transmittance. See also reflectance, transmittance.

    A rectangular area on a computer screen dedicated to one application.

    Microsoft Corp.'s operating system, i.e., Windows 97, Windows 2000, Windows NT.

    WMF (Windows Metafile Format)
    Graphics format from Windows and used for some operating-system graphics, among other items. Generally considered inadequate for output of color graphics.

    Working Files
    Files that have been used to generate a graphic file such as an EPS file. Software applications such as Macromedia FreeHand, Adobe Illustrator, and QuarkXPress can all generate EPS files. The editable application file is called the working file.

    WORM (Write-Once Read Many Times)
    A storage device that uses a medium that once written to can not be written over. Photo CD is an example.

    The act of creating, sending or transferring data to an output device or storage.

    WWW (World Wide Web)
    A hypertext-based, multimedia distribution system on the Internet. Sometimes abbreviated as W3.

    WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get)
    A monitor configured to represent the images displayed in a manner consistent with the desired printed result. Pronounced "wizzy-wig."

  • X

    (1) One of the three CIE tristimulus values; the red primary. (2) Spectral color matching functions of the CIE Standard Observer used for calculating the X tristimulus value. (3) One of the CIE chromaticity coordinates.

    X-Direction Optical Sampling Rate
    A scanner's sampling rate in the horizontal direction (across the page). The x-direction sampling rate is determined by the number of CCD elements in the CCD array. See also y-direction sampling rate, optical sampling rate and sampling rate.

    Manufacturer of densitometers and color control systems for desktop publishing and graphic design.

    The Unix equivalent of Microsoft Windows. Most Unix graphical user interfaces, such as Motif and OpenLook, are based on X-Windows.

    An international standard protocol for connecting computers and other data communications devices to packet-switched networks. Supports transmission speeds of up to 56 Kbps.

    Microsoft's version of the UNIX operating system.

  • Y

    1. One of the three CIE tristimulus values, equal to the luminous reflectance or transmittance; the green primary. 2. Spectral color matching function of the CIE Standard Observer used for calculating Y tristimulus value. 3. One of the CIE chromaticity values.

    Y-Direction Optical Sampling Rate
    A scanner's sampling rate in the vertical direction (down the page). The y-direction sampling rate is determined by the mechanical motion of the scanner's carriage as it moves down the page.

    A color space developed by Eastman Kodak to define colors by luminance (Y) and two levels of chrominance (C and C).

    A subtractive primary color for color printing and printing. In additive systems, it is made up of equal parts of red and green light.

  • Z

    1. One of the three CIE tristimulus values; the blue primary. 2. Spectral color matching function of the CIE Standard Observer used for calculating the Z tristimulus value. 3. One of the CIE chromaticity coordinates.

    To compress a file (usually text) using PKZIP or WinZIP, two popular programs. Commonly used to reduce the size of a file to speed up transmission over the internet or an on-line service.

    Zip Drive
    Removable storage device employing a small disk similar in design to a floppy disk, but offering significantly more storage space (approximately 100-250 MB) and speed.

    Making the image or image part become larger (zooming in) or smaller (zooming out) as it appears on the monitor. A lens that changes magnification.

    Zoom In
    To make a page larger on the screen so you can see more detail.

    Zoom Out
    To make a page smaller on the screen so you can have a broader view of the page.

  • abatement

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

  • abrasion resistance

    The ability of a given surface to resist scratching or scuffing due to contact or friction with another material. It is one measure of durability.

  • access door

    A hinged or removable panel that when opened provides access to the interior of a sign allowing for the inspection and servicing of its internal components. (Also called access panel.)

  • access panel

    A hinged or removable panel that when opened provides access to the interior of a sign allowing for the inspection and servicing of its internal components. (Also called access door.)

  • acetate

    A thin, clear plastic material that is both flexible and strong. Available in both glossy and matte finishes, it is receptive to ink, and is popular as a substrate for point-of-purchase advertising signs.

  • achromatic

    Literally means without color. Black, white and grays are achromatic.

  • acid etching

    A method of marking or decorating a surface. In acid etching an acid resistant stencil of the artwork or text is applied to the chosen surface. A corrosive compound such as hydrofluoric acid is then applied to the remaining exposed areas. After a specified length of time during which the acid mixture is allowed to eat away at the exposed material, the entire surface is washed and the stencil removed, leaving behind an etched impression of the artwork. (See also etching and sandblasting.)

  • acrylic

    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.

  • acrylic paint

    Any water-based paint having its pigments or dyes bound in an acrylic resin emulsion. Once dry, acrylic paint forms a tough, flexible film that is resistant to water. These types of paints are often used for silkscreening and screen printing and for hand painted signs.

  • additive colors

    Red, green and blue are the three additive colors of light. All other colors of light are created by combinations of these three. If the three additive colors come together in equal proportions, the resulting light is white. (Also called additive primaries. See also primary colors.)

  • additive primaries

    Red, green and blue are the three additive colors of light. All other colors of light are created by combinations of these three. If the three additive colors come together in equal proportions, the resulting light is white. (Also called additive colors. See also primary colors.)

  • adhesion

    The force that holds the surface of one material to another. The strength of adhesion is affected by the type and condition of the surfaces in question and the adhesive used. Generally the surfaces need to be clean and porous enough to allow for a certain amount of penetration by the adhesive.

  • adhesive

    A material or substance able to bind and hold two surfaces together. Examples include glue, epoxy and tape.

  • advance notice 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. (Also called an approach sign.)

  • aesthetics

    The general perception of an sign's artistic merit or beauty, both on its own and in relation to its surroundings. The design, construction, materials and colors of a sign all factor into its aesthetic appeal.

  • age in

    The initial time a new neon light must be on before it is able to achieve full brightness thereafter. The amount of time this takes can vary widely. (Also called burn-in. See also initial lumens.)

  • airbrush

    A handheld painting device that uses compressed air to generate a fine spray of paint. The pressurized air passes through the airbrush nozzle creating a vacuum that siphons paint from an attached container. Airbrushes come in a variety of sizes for different applications, and can be fitted with a variety of nozzles for different effects and levels of detail.

  • aluminum

    A lightweight metal material used in sign panels, poles and frames. It is strong and durable in relation to its weight, and resistant to rust and corrosion.

  • ambient light

    The sum of all non-directional light in a given area emitted by all sources at a given time. A high level of ambient light can have an impact on a sign's readability, and can be a consideration in a sign's design. Outdoor sunlight creates a high level of ambient light.

  • amortization

    When a previously conforming sign is subsequently deemed to be non-conforming, the owner of the sign is notified and given a grace period during which he may continue to keep and use the sign. At the end of the grace period the sign must be removed. This process is referred to as amortization. The legality and enforceability of amortization depends state and local law, and other possible conditions.

  • anchor

    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. (See also expansion anchor and J-bolt.)

  • animated sign

    A sign that uses the sequential switching on and off of graphically arranged fluorescent lamps, cathode tubes, LEDs or incandescents so as to provide the illusion of movement. (See also chase [2].)

  • 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.

  • annual average daily traffic (annual ADT)

    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.

  • anodized finish

    A thin aluminum oxide coating applied electrochemically to the surface of a metal object. The coating hardens, protects and enhances the appearance of the object. An anodized finish can be created in a variety of colors.

  • applique

    A graphic element made separately then affixed to a cloth or fabric covering such as an awning.

  • approach

    The distance at which a sign becomes readable to a viewer to the point where the sign is no longer readable as the viewer passes by.

  • 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. (Also called an advance notice sign.)

  • architectural signage

    A term used to describe signage in a built environment having the purpose of providing wayfinding or other site specific information.

  • argon

    An inert gas used in fluorescent lamps and neon tubes. By itself, argon generates pale lavender light. Combined with mercury, it can generate a blue or ultra-violet light.

  • artwork

    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.

  • awning cord

    Most commonly a small diameter, cotton braid cord manufactured for stretch resistance and used for tying down awning covers.

  • awning sign

    A projecting sign made of non rigid material such as heavy canvas supported by a framework that is attached to a building's substrate. The awning sign extends outward from the building and so provides shaded cover and protection from weather for customers and pedestrians. An awning sign will have lettering and/or graphics painted or screen printed on its exterior surface. It may or not be illuminated. (See also backlit awning and canopy sign.)

  • 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.

  • backlighted letter

    An illuminated reverse channel letter where the light from the letter is directed against and reflected off the surface behind the letter thereby producing a glowing effect around the letter. (Also referred to as halo lighting.)

  • backlit awning

    An awning sign that is lit from underneath by fluorescent or other high output lighting. The light shines through the awning fabric, illuminating whatever text or graphics are on it and providing effective nighttime readability. The light emanating from underneath the awning also provides light to the sidewalk or street below. (Also called illuminated awning. See also awning sign and canopy sign.)

  • backlit sign

    A sign where the sign face is illuminated from behind. (Also called illuminated sign. See also internally illuminated sign and exterior illuminated sign.)

  • ballast

    A fluorescent light fixture component, the primary function of which is to provide sufficient starting voltage for the lamp. A ballast may also serve to heat the fluorescent lamp electrodes, and control the amount of power to the lamp once it is operating.

  • ballpoint Braille

    Small plastic or metal beads that can be placed in the face of a sign to create informational Braille text as required by the ADA. (Also known as Braille bullets or Braille beads.)

  • banding

    The appearance of solid bands or patterns of visibly distinct colors within what should otherwise be a continuous and seamless color gradation. Banding can be caused by several factors, including low resolution artwork, a poor quality scan of the original artwork or improper calibration of the printer used.

  • banner

    A sign made of non rigid material such as canvas or vinyl, and typically having no enclosing or supporting framework. Often intended for temporary use, a banner sign can be screen printed or painted, and is commonly hung from a pole or mounted to the facade of a building. (See also flag and pennant.)

  • base plate

    A flat, thick piece of metal, usually steel and square or rectangular in shape, welded to the bottom of a sign support structure and then anchored with bolts to a concrete foundation or other substructure.

  • bench sign

    A sign mounted onto, or incorporated into a seat in a public area such as a bus stop bench. (See also street furniture.)

  • bevel

    1. A slant or angle on a surface. 2. A cut made at the edge of a material to form an angle that is not 90

  • bid package

    Documents from a prospective customer that state for the contractor the requirements and conditions of the project under bid. These documents communicate such details as design intent, desired materials, installation criteria and other project specifics. They also include standardized bidding forms and bidding instructions. (Also called front end documents.).

  • billboard

    A large (15 square feet in area or larger) outdoor sign used for advertising and typically seen along highways, main streets and other high traffic areas. An advertiser will rent a billboard and display their advertisement on it for a set length of time.

  • blackout

    A specially formulated paint or coating for use on electric signs to block light emission where needed, for example between letters in a neon sign. It adheres well to glass, and resists weather, heat and electrical discharge. (Also called blockout.)

  • blade sign

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

  • blank

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

  • bleed

    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.

  • blind fasteners

    Fasteners used to mount signs to walls and others surfaces while remaining hidden from view. (Also called concealed fasteners.)

  • blistering

    The appearance of bumps and bubbles on a surface covered in a coating such as paint, or a material such as vinyl. It is the result of the coating or material losing adhesion and separating from the surface underneath.

  • block color

    An area of solid color having no gradation.

  • blockout

    A specially formulated paint or coating for use on electric signs to block light emission where needed, for example between letters in a neon sign. It adheres well to glass, and resists weather, heat and electrical discharge. (Also called blackout.)

  • bombarding

    The process of heating to a high temperature the glass of a neon tube for the purpose of releasing trapped gases and other impurities within it.

  • bonderizing

    The process of treating a metal surface with a zinc phosphate coating in preparation for painting or enameling.

  • border

    A line or band of color or material that defines that outer edges of a sign and/or elements within the 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. (See also light box.)

  • brand equity

    The value a customer places on a branded product or service. It is the qualitative sum of everything that a customer thinks, feels and knows about the product or service. The value of brand equity can be determined by comparing the expected future revenue of the branded product/service against the expected future revenue from an equivalent but non-branded product/service. (See also branding.)

  • branding

    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. (See also brand equity.)

  • breakaway foundation

    A type of sign foundation that allows a sign pole or other attached support structure to break away cleanly if struck by a motor vehicle, thereby reducing the force of impact to the occupants inside the vehicle. Required by law in many areas. (Also called a frangible sign mount.)

  • breaking strength

    The maximum load a material can withstand before it breaks. (Also called tensile strength.)

  • brightness

    1. The perceived amount of light that a visual target emits or reflects. Its relative luminance. 2. The amount of white in a given color. The greater the amount of white, the brighter the color is said to be. Brightness is one of the three attributes of color along with hue and saturation.

  • bronze

    A very strong and durable metal alloy made of copper and tin with traces of other metals such as zinc and nickel. It can be cast for the making of plaques, or fabricated from thin sheets into dimensional letters. Bronze can be finished in a variety of ways including being brushed, polished or lacquered.

  • brushed finish

    A textured, non-reflective polished finish applied to metal by lightly brushing the surface with an abrasive material or briefly applying a mildly corrosive chemical.

  • buff

    To polish a metal surface by rubbing it with a slightly abrasive compound. (See also burnish.)

  • 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. (See also content neutral time, place and manner regulations.)

  • building mounted sign

    Any sign that is applied or attached to a building in some manner.

  • built-up letter

    A lettering technique in which the outline of the letter is made first and then filled in.

  • bulletin colors

    A type of quick drying, fade resistant enamel paint commonly used by sign painters for hand lettering.

  • burn-in

    The initial time a new neon light must be on before it is able to achieve full brightness thereafter. The amount of time this takes can vary widely. (Also called age in. See also initial lumens.)

  • burnish

    To polish by friction, i.e. to rub with pressure. No abrasive compound or material is used when burnishing. (See also buff.)

  • butt joint

    The type of joint formed when two pieces of material (wood, metal, etc.) come together flush and edge-to-edge.

  • candela

    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. (See also awning sign and backlit awning.)

  • canvas

    a tightly woven heavy and durable fabric made of cotton, linen or synthetic material.

  • carved letters

    Lettering that is chiseled, routed, engraved or sandblasted into the substrate of a sign face either by hand or by computer controlled machinery.

  • carved signs

    Any sign made by the routing, engraving, sandblasting or chiseling of lettering, shapes and/or patterns into the substrate of a sign face either by hand or by computer controlled machinery.

  • cast metal sign

    Any metal sign that is made through a casting process. Aluminum and bronze are commonly used for cast metal signs such as plaques.

  • casting

    The process by which a material such as metal or plastic is poured into a mold while in a liquid state and then allowed to solidify, thereby taking the shape of the mold and creating a copy of the original object from which the mold was made. (See also die-casting.)

  • changeable copy panel

    A panel of a sign that allows for changeable copy. (See also changeable copy sign.)

  • changeable copy sign

    A sign where the copy on the face can be changed at will either manually using attachable letters, mechanically using a rotating panel or electronically via computer-controlled bulbs, LEDs or LCD screen, etc.

  • channel

    Term for a length of plastic or metal that has been extruded into the shape of a U.

  • channel letter

    A three-dimensional letter formed out of channel into which a light source such as a neon tube may be placed.

  • chase

    1. To decorate or modify a metal surface by engraving, etching or cutting. 2. The illusion of movement created by the sequential turning on and off of lights in an illuminated sign. (See also animated sign.)

  • chisel

    1. A tool made of hardened steel and used to shape wood or stone. It has a handle at one end and a cutting edge at the other, and is worked by hitting the top of the handle with a mallet. 2. The process of using a chisel tool to shape or carve into a piece of wood or stone.

  • chrome plating

    A thin protective and decorative finish made of chromium that is applied to a surface using an electrochemical process. It provides a bright, mirror-like finish.

  • cladding

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

  • clearance

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

  • coat-out

    Painting the substrate of a sign with a coat of primer prior to applying the lettering and graphics.

  • coated fabric

    Any fabric that has been treated or coated with a substance such as plastics, rubber or oils in order to make it stronger and/or more durable.

  • coated tubing

    A type of glass tubing used in neon signs that is coated on the inside surface with a phosphorus compound. The color a coated tube will produce depends on the specific compound used.

  • cold cathode

    The technical name for a neon lamp, in particular those with tubing diameter greater than 15mm and operating between 60mA and 240mA.

  • color contrast

    The subjective degree of difference in hue, intensity and saturation of two colors when seen next to each other.

  • color separation

    The process of decomposing and separating a color graphic or image into its four constituent CMYK ink colors such that each color ends up with its own printing plate. The plates are then used in a printing press to reproduce the image on paper.

  • colored tubing

    A term for colored glass tubing used in neon signs to achieve a greater level of color saturated light not possible with typical clear glass neon tubes.

  • concealed fasteners

    Fasteners used to mount signs to walls and others surfaces while remaining hidden from view. (Also called blind fasteners.)

  • concrete sign

    A sign for which the substrate is concrete. A concrete sign can be cast or poured in place.

  • conduit

    Metal or plastic tubes that channel and protect electric cables.

  • conforming sign

    A sign that has been legally installed in accordance with all applicable federal, state and local regulations.

  • conspicuity

    The effectiveness of sign in standing out from its surrounding environment and capturing the attention of the passerby.

  • 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. (Also called a job site sign.)

  • content neutral time, place and manner regulations

    Those sign regulations which specify, without consideration of the sign's content or message, how, when and where a sign can be displayed, including such parameters as height, size and location. (See also building code.)

  • contrast

    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.

  • copy

    As a whole, the written message on a sign. (See also artwork.)

  • copy area

    The area on a sign face that contains the copy.

  • cordage

    General term for all rope, cord, line and string.

  • corona treatment

    A treatment process that alters the static charge of material's surface, making it more receptive to the application of inks, coatings and adhesives.

  • corrugated board

    A sign board created by gluing a corrugated piece of material to a flat a piece of material, or between two flat pieces. The most common type of corrugated material used in sign making is plastic.

  • cost per thousand (CPT)

    The cost of reaching 1,000 viewers with an advertisement in a given medium--print, radio, television and signage. Based on CPT, signage is the least expensive form of advertising available.

  • cove lighting

    A type of indirect lighting that emanates upward from a ledge, valance or horizontal recess. Commonly uses a fluorescent, neon or fiber optic light source.

  • coverage

    1. The square surface area that a given amount of paint, glue or other applied substance will cover. 2. The percentage of people in a market that are reached by an advertisement in a given medium, e.g. print, radio, TV and signage.

  • crazing

    The appearance of fine cracks in the surface of paint, lacquer, plastic or vinyl. Typically the result of prolonged exposure to sunlight (ultraviolet light) and weather.

  • crocking

    The rubbing off of color from a fabric as a result of using improper or defective dye.

  • crossover

    The connection between two portions of a neon sign, for example where two letters come together. Typically, crossover points are coated with blockout to hide them from view.

  • curing

    The process of drying or hardening ink, glue or other substances through the application of heat or ultraviolet light.

  • customer acquisition costs (CAC)

    The cost of convincing a new customer to buy your product or service. This includes the cost of market research, marketing and advertising.

  • daily effective circulation (DEC)

    The average number of persons per day who see a given sign or group of signs. A "day" equates to a 12-hour period for non-illuminated signs, and an 18-hour period for illuminated signs.

  • dead load

    The total weight of the materials used in a sign and its supporting structure. The dead load, including its distribution within the sign structure, must be taken into account when calculating load bearing requirements.

  • debossed lettering

    Sign lettering where the lettering has been engraved, carved or otherwise recessed into the sign substrate. (See also embossed lettering.)

  • decal

    Screen printed lettering and graphics that can be transferred and affixed to another surface through the application of water or heat.

  • deck cabinet

    A structure that houses the electric components of a sign, but also serves as the background and support structure of the sign. Similar to a raceway except larger.

  • delamination

    The separation of the individual plies (layers) in a laminated substrate. Typically caused by the failure of the adhesive between layers.

  • denier

    A unit of measure for the weight of fiber. Specifically, it is the weight in grams of 9,000 meters of a given fiber.

  • density

    The ratio between the mass (weight) of a substance to the volume of space it occupies. In sign making, the term is commonly applied to foam boards and is expressed in pounds per cubic foot.

  • deposit

    In sign making, this refers to the amount of ink applied to the substrate.

  • design

    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.

  • design intent drawings

    Drawings of a sign that show the basic size, profile and parts of it, but provide no further design details. Design intent drawings are typically included as part of the bid package from the customer.

  • die-casting

    The process by which molten metal is poured into a hardened metal mold and then allowed to cool and solidify, thereby taking the shape of the mold and creating a precise copy of the original object from which the mold was made or designed. (See also casting.)

  • die-cutting

    The process of cutting material such as paper or vinyl using a steel blade (called a die) manufactured to cut a specific shape. The die-cutting process is typically used when a large number of items must be cut to the same shape or size.

  • dielectric welding

    The process of joining two pieces of vinyl or other applicable material by heating and melting the seams together using high frequency electrical impulses.

  • 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 back

    A 180-degree bend in a neon tube.

  • double tube

    Two neon tubes running parallel to each other.

  • 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.)

  • drop shadow

    The visual effect of creating a false shadow behind a letter or object by placing a darker colored but identically shaped copy of it behind it but slightly offset up or down and to one side.

  • dye

    Any of a range of soluble compounds used for coloring fabrics. (See also pigment and stain.)

  • edge-lit sign

    An illuminated sign where the light source is positioned on the outside of the sign face along one or more of its edges such that the light shines back onto it.

  • electric sign

    Any sign that contains and utilizes electrical components.

  • electro-mechanical sign

    A type of message center sign where an electrically driven mechanical device rotates or flips between two or more panels with different messages.

  • electronic display

    Generic term for any type of electronic programmable display. (See also LCD sign.)

  • 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 technologies.

  • electrostatic film

    A thin, electrostatically charged material such as PVC used for lettering and graphics on glass and other smooth surfaces. The static charge enables the material to firmly adhere to the smooth surface, yet still be peeled off relatively easily.

  • elevation

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

  • embellishment

    In signage, it refers to any element of a sign face that provides a decorative effect.

  • emboss

    To create raised lettering or graphics in relief on the substrate of a sign through stamping, hammering or molding.

  • embossed plastic sign face

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

  • enamel

    A colored, powdered glass-based compound that is fused to the surface of metal or glass for decoration and protection. An enamel finish is typically opaque.

  • engine-turned

    A process of using a tool such as a drill press to create uniform circle or swirl patterns on metal or gold leaf finish.

  • engrave

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

  • entrance canopy

    A type of canopy or awning that covers and identifies the entrance to a building or place of business.

  • epoxy

    A very strong, two-part adhesive--resin plus hardening agent--capable of bonding together a wide range of materials, including woods, composites and metals.

  • erect

    To construct and install a sign and its supporting structure.

  • etching

    The removal of selected portions of a layer of material from a substrate using a chemical or electrolytic process. Typically, a stencil is used to mark the areas to be etched and protect the other areas. (See also acid etching.)

  • expansion anchor

    A type of anchor that is designed to expand inside the drilled hole it is placed, thereby securing itself by the resulting pressure and friction against the sides of the hole. Typically used to anchor awnings to concrete or masonry.

  • extender

    An additive that increases the volume of ink without lowering its viscosity or one that improves the workability of an ink.

  • exterior illuminated sign

    A sign that is illuminated by an external light source directed at the sign face. (See also direct illumination.)

  • extrusion

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

  • eyelet

    A small metal or plastic ring that is inserted into a hole made in another piece of material. It prevents fraying of the material around the hole and provides a durable, easily threaded opening for rope or twine. (Also called a grommet.)

  • fabricate

    To manufacture a sign or major sign components.

  • fabricated letter

    A dimensional letter typically fabricated from sheet metal.

  • facade

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

  • face

    Typically refers to the most prominent message area of a sign but may refer generically to any message area. (Also called sign face. See also panel.)

  • 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.

  • fasteners

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

  • fiber optics

    Thin strands of specially manufactured plastic or glass used to transport and direct light from a source to a given destination.

  • fiber-optic display

    A sign that utilizes fiber optics to create or illuminat the sign's message.

  • fiberglass

    A strong, lightweight material created from tiny glass threads woven into a fabric and then hardened using a special polyester resin. Fiberglass can be used to create sign faces and cabinets of varying sizes and shapes. (See also spun glass.)

  • filament lamp sign

    An illuminated sign using tungsten filament lamps.

  • fill pressure

    A measure of the amount of inert gas pumped into a neon lamp.

  • fingerpost sign

    A post-mounted directional sign having one or more panels each of which point in the direction of a particular destination.

  • fire proof

    A term used to describe a fabric or substance that is impervious to damage by fire, and that will not ever support a flame. (See also fire retardant.)

  • fire retardant

    A chemical compound applied to a material that reduces the material's flammability and retards the ability of fire to spread across its surface. Fire retardant does not make the material fire proof.

  • first surface

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

  • flag

    A sign made of non rigid material such as canvas or vinyl, and having no enclosing or supporting framework. A flag is usually rectangular or triangular in shape, and is attached at one end to a pole. Often intended for temporary use, a flag can be screen printed or painted. (See also banner and pennant.)

  • flammability

    The relative ability of a material or substance to support combustion.

  • flange

    On a sign, it typically refers to the 90

  • flashing sign

    An illuminated sign having an intermittent or flashing light source as a means of drawing attention to its message.

  • flat cutout letter

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

  • flat screen

    Generic term for an LCD display.

  • flex face

    A sign face made of a flexible material stretched over a supporting frame. (See also flexible face material.)

  • flexible face material

    Generic term for reinforced, translucent fabric made of PVC or polyester typically used for awnings, canopies and other types of signage.

  • 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.

  • font

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

  • footing

    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.

  • foundation

    A concrete substructure that anchors a sign and its supporting structure to the ground. (See also footing.)

  • four-color process

    A halftone printing process that uses the four essential ink colors of cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) to create a full range of colors on a printed surface. (Also called process color.)

  • frangible sign mount

    A type of sign foundation that allows a sign pole or other attached support structure to break away cleanly if struck by a motor vehicle, thereby reducing the force of impact to the occupants inside the vehicle. Required by law in many areas. (Also called a breakaway foundation.)

  • 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.

  • frequency

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

  • front end documents

    Documents from a prospective customer that state for the contractor the requirements and conditions of the project under bid. These documents typically communicate such details as design intent, desired materials, installation criteria and other project specifics. They also include standardized bidding forms and bidding instructions. (Also called bid documents.)

  • front lighted letter

    An illuminated channel letter having a translucent face.

  • galvanized steel

    Refers to steel that has been coated with a thin layer of zinc for corrosion protection.

  • gateway sign

    A sign marking the entrance to a town, neighborhood, development, park or other public area. (Also called precinct sign.)

  • gauge

    A unit of measurement for the thickness of sheet metal or wires. The lower the gauge number the greater the thickness.

  • gilding

    The artful process of applying a thin layer of gold or gold-like material to a surface by mechanical or chemical means for the purpose of ornamentation. (See also gold foil.)

  • glare

    Any direct or reflected light within your field of vision that is sufficiently bright enough to cause visual annoyance, discomfort or obscuration.

  • glazing

    The process of installing glass panes.

  • gloss

    An indicator of the amount of light reflected by the finish of a surface. A high gloss finish reflects 80-90% of the light directed at it. Semi gloss 50-75%. Satin 30-45%. Matte finish 5-15%.

  • glossimeter

    A device used to measure the amount of light reflected off a given surface. (See also gloss.)

  • gold leaf

    A very thin type of foil made of gold and used in gilding.

  • gradation

    The smooth transition from one color to another color, from black to white, or from color to the absence of color. (Also called gradient.)

  • grade

    The elevation or contour of the ground at a particular location. (See also height above grade.)

  • gradient

    The smooth transition from one color to another color, from black to white, or from color to the absence of color. (Also called gradation.)

  • grommet

    A small metal or plastic ring that is inserted into a hole made in another piece of material. It prevents fraying of the material around the hole and provides a durable, easily threaded opening for rope or twine. (Also called an eyelet.)

  • ground sign

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

  • guardian letter

    A metal letter having a curved face of highly-polished stainless steel.

  • guy rope

    A rope or cable used to secure and stabilize mounted signs, or awning and canopy signs. It is attached to the sign on one end and the ground or a building at the other end. (Also called guy wire.)

  • guy wire

    A rope or cable used to secure and stabilize mounted signs, or awning and canopy signs. It is attached to the sign on one end and the ground or a building at the other end. (Also called guy rope.)

  • hairline joint

    The thinnest possible joint between two edges.

  • halation

    A halo-like effect can result from extreme contrast between adjacent illuminated and non-illuminated portions of a sign. The light appears to spread or bleed across the non-illuminated area, making it more difficult for the viewer to focus on the sign and its message.

  • halftone

    The process by which a continuous tone image such as a photograph is reproduced and simulated using a pattern of printed or silk screened dots of varying size and equal spacing. At a normal viewing distance the reproduced image appears as continuous tone.

  • halo

    A glowing ring of light surrounding a object such as a channel letter which has been lit from behind. (See also halo lighting.)

  • 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. (Also known as a projecting sign.)

  • heat color-transfer

    A process of applying color to fabric whereby a pigmented resin is activated by heat and then pulled into the fabric with a vacuum applicator.

  • heat-bending

    The process of heating a piece of material such as PVC, acrylic or glass tubing in order to make it malleable enough to bend and shape.

  • height

    The measured distance between the highest point of a sign to the highest point of the grade underneath the sign.

  • 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. (See also access door.)

  • hue

    A given color's tendency towards any of the four base wavelengths of visible light: red, yellow, blue and green. For example, if yellow appears more dominate in an orange colored ink, then that color orange would be said to have a yellowish hue. Hue is one of the three attributes of color along with brightness and saturation.

  • identification sign

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

  • illuminance

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

  • illuminated awning

    An awning sign that is lit from underneath by fluorescent or other high output lighting. The light shines through the awning fabric illuminating whatever text or graphics are on it and providing effective nighttime readability. The light emanating from underneath the awning also provides light to the sidewalk or street below. (Also called backlit awning. See also awning sign and canopy sign.)

  • illuminated sign

    A sign where the sign face is illuminated in some manner. (Also called backlit sign. See also internally illuminated sign and exterior illuminated sign.)

  • incandescent lamp

    A lamp that contains a wire filament (typically made of tungsten) that produces visible light when heated by an electric current to the point of glowing.

  • incidental sign

    A sign intended for informational purposes as opposed to commercial or advertising purposes. Typically smaller in size, examples of incidental signs include parking signs, restroom signs and entrance and exit signs.

  • incise

    To decorate a surface by carving or cutting into it using sharpened tools of varying size and shapes. (See also engrave.)

  • inert gas

    A gas that does not react chemically with other substances coming in contact with it. Also referred to as noble or rare gases, inert gases include neon, argon, helium, krypton and xenon.

  • inflatable sign

    A sign made of flexible material or fabric that is made to take on a three-dimensional shape (to blow up like a balloon) when filled with a sufficient volume of air or gas. Commonly used as a temporary sign for special events or promotions.

  • initial lumens

    The lumen output of a new lamp as measured after it has been powered on for a standard length of time.

  • ink

    Pigmented liquid used for screen printing, press printing, writing and drawing. Inks are either water-based or solvent-based depending on the application.

  • ink receptive

    Refers to any material that will absorb ink and bond with it.

  • inscribe

    To write, print, incise or stamp letters and words onto or into a given surface.

  • insert

    An uninstalled sign panel with no lettering or graphics applied. (Also called a blank.)

  • intensity

    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. (See also backlit sign and exterior illuminated sign.)

  • italic

    A font style characterized by a distinct slant in the letters and numbers. (Example: ABC123.)

  • job 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. (Also called a construction site sign.)

  • kerf

    The width of the cut or channel made by a saw or other tool.

  • kerning

    The act of moving printed or mounted letters further apart or closer together in order to achieve a desired effect. (See also letter spacing, tracking and justified.)

  • kick plate

    A metal or plastic plate placed along the bottom of a sign structure in order to protect its surface against damage from kicking or other light to moderate contact.

  • kiosk

    A small, freestanding structure traditionally used for the posting of temporary signs and notices. May also be equipped with an interactive computer screen and provide services such as event ticket sales.

  • lacing

    A common method of attaching a fabric covering to the frame of an awning. It is tied to the frame using thin rope that is threaded (laced) through grommets at the edge of the fabric.

  • lacquer

    A clear glossy coating applied to material for appearance and protection. Known for its ability to dry quickly. Similar to varnish but provides a harder finish.

  • lambert

    A unit of measure of luminance (brightness). One lambert is the luminance of a surface that emits or reflects one lumen per square centimeter. One lambert = 0.318 foot-candles per square centimeter.

  • laminated fabric

    Two or more layers of fabric (natural and/or synthetic) joined together with an adhesive. (See also lamination.)

  • laminated glass

    Two sheets of glass bonded to an inner layer of transparent plastic. For signage, lettering and graphics can be applied to the plastic layer prior to bonding. Laminated glass also provides a measure of safety as the bonded plastic layer helps prevent the glass from shattering if broken. In addition, laminated glass has greater sound reduction qualities when compared to glass alone. (See also lamination.)

  • lamination

    The process of binding together two or more layers of material by means of one or more of the following: heat, pressure and adhesive bonding. (See also delamination.)

  • lamp bank

    The array of lamps (lights) in a message center that are used to create the messages seen by the public.

  • landscape format

    An image or sign panel where the length is appreciably greater than the height is said to be in landscape format.

  • laser

    A highly focused beam of light that when generated with sufficient power can be used for the purpose of engraving or cutting material.

  • layout

    The overall arrangement of the graphics and lettering on the face of a sign.

  • letter spacing

    A typographic term for the space between letters and words.

  • life safety signs

    Signage that conveys life-saving information such as important fire, security and evacuation information. The specific types of life safety signage required are determined by local, state and federal regulations.

  • light box

    A sign that is self enclosed in a typically square or rectangular structure and houses an internal light system for illumination of the sign face. (See also box sign.)

  • light emitting diode (LED)

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

  • light reflectance value (LRV)

    An indication of the relative amount of light reflected by a given color. For example, yellow has a higher LRV than blue.

  • line screen

    The resolutions of a halftone print measured in lines per inch. The higher the number of lines per inch, the higher the resolution of the resulting print. Most halftone printing is at a line screen resolution of 133 and 175 lines per inch.

  • line spacing

    A typographic term for the space between lines or blocks of text.

  • liquid crystal display (LCD) sign

    A type of flat panel display that recreates an image or message through the manipulation of electrically sensitive crystals suspended in a liquid medium. Commonly used in electronic message centers.

  • load

    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. (See also dead load.)

  • logo

    A visually distinctive name and/or symbol that identifies a business, product or service. (See also trademark.)

  • 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.)

  • low voltage

    Voltage not exceeding 1000V AC or 1500V DC between conductors, or 600V AC or 900V DC between conductor and ground.

  • lumen

    A measurement of light output. One lumen equals the amount of light falling on a one square foot area located one foot away from a single candle.

  • luminance

    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.

  • luminance ratio

    With an illuminated sign, some areas of the sign face will have a higher luminance than others. The difference in luminance between any two areas is referred to as the luminance ratio.

  • luminescence

    The quality of emitting light by absorbing radiant energy from another source and converting it into a visible wavelength. (See also fluorescent lamp.)

  • luminous efficacy

    The amount of light produced by a lamp as measured in lumens compared to the amount of energy the lamp consumes.

  • luminous flux

    The total visible light energy emitted by a source in all directions, where the luminous flux is the radiant flux multiplied by the human eye's sensitivity. The unit of measurement for luminous flux is the lumen.

  • magnetic sheeting

    A layer of magnetic material laminated to a flexible surface material such as vinyl that can be printed with lettering and graphics. Magnetic sheeting is commonly used for temporary signage that can be placed on the side of vehicles or other metal surfaces.

  • mall signage

    A general term for on-premise signs located within a multi-tenant building or mall.

  • margin

    The space between the any lettering or graphics and the border of the sign face.

  • marquee sign

    A permanent structure attached to the front of a building and which incorporates a large message center. Typically illuminated and often ornate in design, a marquee sign projects over the entrance of the building and provides a canopy over at least a portion of the sidewalk or street. Marquee signs are often used by movie theaters and concert halls.

  • matte

    Having a dull or non-shiny surface or finish.

  • medium density overlay (MDO)

    An exterior grade plywood sheet that has been given a resin-impregnated overlay on one or both sides to improve its paintability.

  • memorial sign

    A sign, typically a plaque, which commemorates a person, place or event.

  • 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. (See also variable message sign.)

  • mercury

    A silvery-white metal that remains liquid at room temperature. In a neon lamp and fluorescent lamp, mercury is heated to a vapor through the application of an electric current and mixed with an inert gas such as argon to produce the ultraviolet light necessary to excite the phosphorous coating on the inside of the lamp, which in turn then generates visible light.

  • mesh

    1. Any fabric or woven material having a loose or open weave. 2. In screen printing, the material through which ink or paint is applied to a surface.

  • message area

    Any segment or surface of a sign that conveys meaning to the viewer either through words or graphics.

  • message center

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

  • mild steel

    A type of sheet metal commonly used to form channels and other sign components and structures.

  • mildew resistant

    Refers to fabric that has been chemically treated so as to inhibit the growth of mold and fungus.

  • mobile billboard

    A large sign mounted on a trailer or back of a truck. The sign may or may not be illuminated. (Also called a mobile sign.)

  • mobile sign

    A large sign mounted on a trailer or back of a truck. The sign may or may not be illuminated. (Also called a mobile billboard.)

  • mock-up

    A full scale model of a structure. A sign mock-up is created to test and review in detail the appearance, legibility and other aspects of a final design. It is typically made of cheaper, less durable material than the final sign but given the same colors and finishes. (See also model.)

  • model

    A scaled version of a structure. Typically, sign models are substantially smaller than the actual sign it represents, and are used during the design process to test and review different design concepts.

  • molded letter

    A letter created by heating a sheet of acrylic or plastic until it is pliable and then shaping it into the desired form using a mold of the letter. After the plastic cools, it retains the molded shape and any excess material is trimmed away.

  • molding

    A decorative strip of metal or wood that frames the outer edge of a sign. Molding can be simple or ornate in style.

  • monolith

    A structure created out of a single mass of material such as a block of granite or marble, or formed concrete.

  • monument sign

    A freestanding sign that stands directly on the ground or ground level foundation. A monument sign is often used to mark a place of significance or the entrance to a location. (See also low profile sign.)

  • mottled

    Term for a surface or finish that is marked with irregular patches of color.

  • muntz metal

    A type of brass alloy that has good casting and hot-work properties, and is resistant to corrosion. Commonly used for the making of plaques. (Also known as alpha-beta brass and yellow metal.)

  • mural

    A wall surface that has been decorated with a direct application of paint, tile or printed graphics.

  • nameplate

    A small wall-mounted or freestanding sign made of plastic or metal that states the name, occupation and/or title of the occupant of an office, desk or building.

  • negative space

    Empty or unused space (having no lettering or graphics) within the sign face. (Also called white space. See also positive space.)

  • neon gas

    An inert gas that remains colorless in its natural state. When a sufficient electrical charge is applied to neon gas, it produces a distinct orange-red glow.

  • neon lamp

    1. A lamp that utilizes electrically charged neon gas contained within a vacuum tube (typically clear) to generate light. 2. A general term that refers to any lamp utilizing an inert gas.

  • 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.

  • neon tubing

    The vacuum tubing (typically clear) used to hold the inert gas (neon gas) used in a neon lamp. Neon tubing can be bent and formed into almost any shape to create lettering and iconic graphics. The color of the tubing and coatings applied to it may alter the color of the light emitted.

  • neoprene

    A type of synthetic rubber with good resistance chemical, oil, flame and abrasion. It remains flexible in cold conditions is commonly used for gaskets, cushioning and weatherproofing.

  • nickel plating

    A thin, protective finish made of nickel that is applied to a surface using an electrochemical process. It is commonly used as an undercoating for subsequent plating.

  • notched

    Describes channel letters that have been cut out in the back in order to fit over a raceway, conduit or other object protruding from the mounting wall or substrate.

  • nylon

    A strong and durable synthetic material used in a wide range of fibers/fabrics, objects and coatings.

  • 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. (See also on-premise sign.)

  • oil canning

    Refers to the occurrence of slight buckling or waviness in a metal surface due to insufficient thickness of the material or inadequate support behind it.

  • on-premise sign

    Any sign that is located on or directly adjacent to the business or property to which it relates. (See also off-premise sign.)

  • opaque

    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.

  • outgas

    1. The removal of gases trapped within a solid substance by heating it until the gases escape. 2. The escape of gases from a solid or liquid which occurs naturally over time.

  • paint

    1. The general term for pigmented coatings that are applied to an object or surface while in a liquid state and then allowed to dry into a colored, protective finish. 2. The process of applying a liquid coating to an object or surface.

  • painted wall sign

    A sign that is painted directly onto an exterior wall of a building.

  • 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.)

  • panel

    Any visible surface of a sign on which copy and/or art is present. One or more panels make up the sign face.

  • parapet

    A low wall built along the edge of a building's roof.

  • parapet sign

    A sign mounted on the parapet of a building. (See also building mounted sign.)

  • patina

    The thin layer of color, corrosion or texture that develops on a metal surface as a result of natural (exposure to the elements over time) or artificial (chemical treatment) oxidization. The color of patina on bronze is typically brown while patina on copper is typically green or green-gray.

  • pattern

    A full-scale design layout of a sign or its components such as the neon tubing or lettering. (See also pounce pattern.)

  • pavement graphics

    Graphics and markings applied to roadways and parking areas to guide and manage traffic and to supplement other traffic signs.

  • pegged out

    A term describing letters mounted using pegs or pins such that they stand off from the substrate to which they are attached. (Also called pinned out.)

  • pennant

    A triangular flag. (See also banner.)

  • 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.

  • permit

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

  • phosphor

    A chemical substance that becomes excited and emits visible light when struck by electrons from another source such as an ultraviolet light. Phosphors continue to emit light for a time even after the energizing source is removed. Phosphorous coatings are used on the inside of fluorescent lamps.

  • phosphorescent sign

    A sign that uses inks, paints or dyes containing phosphors.

  • photopolymer

    A type of plastic having a photosensitive coating which can be masked and photo-etched to create a tactile sign message. It is commonly used for ADA signage that requires Braille lettering.

  • pictogram

    A symbol or simple illustration used to represents an object or concept. Commonly found in ADA and DOT signage. An example of a pictogram would be the wheelchair symbol seen on some ADA signs, the presence of which indicates a handicap accessible location.

  • pigment

    A natural or synthetic insoluble compound used to infuse color into other materials such as paints and inks. (See also dye and stain.)

  • pinned out

    A term describing letters mounted using pins or pegs such that they stand off from the substrate to which they are attached. (Also called pegged out.)

  • planning permission

    Authorization required from the Local Planning Authority to install an illuminated sign or billboard. (See also permit.)

  • plaque

    An inscribed, commemorative plate or tablet, usually of metal, placed on a building, monument or the like.

  • plasma screen

    A type of flat-screen digital image display which is uniformly flat and less than five inches deep and uses gas plasma technology.

  • plastic

    A generic term for a wide range of synthetic materials which consist of long chains of polymers that are moldable and soften when heated. Many plastics used in the sign industry are of the thermoplastic variety, which means they can melt and solidify repeatedly.

  • plastic faced letters

    Channel letters in which the front of the channel is covered by a translucent plastic face, diffusing the neon lighting within. (See also regency and embassy letters.)

  • 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 (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.

  • polyester

    A synthetic fiber used for its strength and resistance to ultraviolet deterioration. It does not have the stretch and elasticity of nylon and, as a result, will often last longer.

  • porcelain sign

    A traditional process to coat metal with a ceramic slip which is fired at extremely high heat to create a durable, glasslike surface that is impervious to the environment.

  • portable sign

    A freestanding, on-premise sign, not designed to be permanently affixed in place. These could include free-standing signs or notices as well as point-of-purchase signs.

  • portrait format

    Proportion of a sign in which height is appreciably longer than width. (See also landscape format.)

  • positive space

    The copy and art on a sign face. The opposite of negative space.

  • post and panel sign

    A sign panel with one or more posts.

  • post mounted sign

    A sign that is attached to one or more sign poles.

  • poster

    1. A series of paper sheets printed for use on a billboard. Other substrates used for posters include plastic and cloth. 2. Also, a sign typically printed on paper and intended for indoor use. Other substrates used for posters include plastic and cloth.

  • poured in place

    Refers to concrete footings for signs. Wet concrete is delivered or mixed on site and poured into a form, creating desired shape. Normal curing and finishing techniques are applied as necessary. Alternative to pre-cast concrete, which is formed, poured, cured and finished off site, then brought to site and installed.

  • powder coating

    A specific process for applying paint to a surface that creates a very durable protective surface.

  • precast concrete

    Steel-fiber or glass-fiber reinforced concrete cast in a mold.

  • precinct sign

    A sign marking the entrance to a town, neighborhood, development, park or other public area. (Also called gateway sign.)

  • primary colors

    The three colors from which all other colors can be created. In paint pigments, the primary colors are yellow, red and blue. In four-color process printing, all colors are mixed from yellow, magenta(red) and cyan(blue). In light, the primary colors are red, green and blue. See also RGB display, additive colors.

  • primary wiring

    Electrical wiring that directly connects a transformer to the breaker box.

  • projecting sign

    A sign that 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. (Also called blade sign.)

  • prototype

    Usually a full-sized sample that uses final materials, methods of construction, fasteners and finishes to test assembly, design, construction and appearance issues. Also used approve the "first sample" in a long production run.

  • public path

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

  • push-through

    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 sign

    A freestanding sign that is not a pole or ground sign.

  • quality assurance

    All those planned and systematic actions necessary to provide adequate confidence that a product or service will satisfy given requirements for quality.

  • quarter round

    Wood or metal molding and trim which in profile is the equivalent of a quarter circle.

  • raceway

    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. (See also deck cabinet.)

  • readability

    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. (See also conspicuity.)

  • readerboard

    A readerboard is a sign on which copy can be changed manually. It usually consists of a panel on which individual letters or pictorials are mounted. Like a window sign, it can advertise special prices or items. It can also be placed so that it can be easily seen from a passing motor vehicle.

  • recall

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

  • recognition

    Refers to the ability of a viewer to identify the message.

  • reflective sheeting

    Film with very small glass or glasslike bead materials encapsulated below its surface, creating the ability to bounce light beams back to their source, such as from a car headlight back to the driver.

  • reflectorized sign

    A sign that has been coated with a highly reflective material. (See also reflective sheeting.)

  • registered trademark

    A trademark that has been officially registered with the government by its owner. Indicated by the symbol ®. (See also trademark.)

  • registration

    1. In screen printing, the correct placement of the image to be printed on the substrate. 2. In multicolor printing, registration also refers to the correct alignment of the colors with one another.

  • regulatory sign

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

  • relief

    The projection of art from a flat surface. The shortened form of "bas-relief."

  • rendering

    An artistic sketch or representation of a design concept.

  • resin transfer

    A method of heating a colored resin material and printing it onto vinyl. The resin is sublimed, or momentarily turned into a gas without passing through a liquid state. The gas seeps into the vinyl and then resolidifies, creating a permanent image.

  • resolution

    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. 2. In plotting, the degree of accuracy with which a plotter will place a knife-head in relation to a theoretical, perfect location of a coordinate.

  • retainer

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

  • retardant

    An additive that slows the drying time of ink.

  • retractable awning

    A cantilevered structure, entirely supported from a building, and constructed so that the awning cover and supporting frame retracts completely against the building. This relieves the awning from wind, rain and snow pressure and loads normally associated with extended fixed frame awning or canopies.

  • return

    The sides of a channel letter.

  • reveal

    An indented detail on a sign.

  • 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.

  • roof sign

    A sign structure that is erected on or above a roof or that is installed directly on a roof's surface.

  • router-cut sign

    Describing a sign cut with a hand router or by a computerized router, using various shaped cutting blades (in a variety of sign materials).

  • routing

    Elimination of material in a substrate, using a tool bit that has been machined for this purpose. In computerized sign making, using a CAD/CAM machine, 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 unprotected area. 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.

  • 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. (Also known as sidewalk sign.)

  • sans serif

    Any typeface that lacks serifs. In most sans serif fonts, there is little differentiation between the width of strokes within the letter. Helvetica and Futura are familiar sans serif fonts.

  • schematic design

    A conceptual design developed at the beginning of a project which demonstrates a design approach or strategy. (Also known as schematics.)

  • scoring

    Cutting or notching a material prior to bending it. Sufficient scoring of some substrates will also allow them to be broken cleanly without cutting them all the way through.

  • screen

    A frame over which fabric is stretched for use in screen printing. The screen supports the stencil or emulsion through which the ink is forced by the squeegee, created the print.

  • 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.

  • seam

    A line formed by the joining together of two separate pieces of the same or different materials at their edges, as with flexible-face fabric material or wood, metal or plastic sheet. (See also butt joint.)

  • second-surface

    Refers to a sign made of a clear substrate, such as acrylic, where the art is applied in reverse on what can be an interior face of the sign, providing extra protection from the environment. Some large exterior signs are painted that way,as are many smaller identification, wayfinding, restroom and evacuation signs that are subject to handling on a regular basis.

  • serif

    A small line or embellishment finishing off the strokes of letters in some fonts (like this one). Well-known serif fonts include Souvenir, Times Roman and Garamond.

  • service

    The general maintenance of a sign. It may include cleaning, repainting, replacement of bulbs or lamps and repairs, which may be provided on a regular basis under contract.

  • service cover

    In an electric sign cabinet, a panel that allows ready access to the bulbs or lamps and the electrical connections for their replacement and maintenance.

  • setback

    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.

  • shade

    A color made darker than the original by adding black to it.

  • shadow

    Duplication of an image that is slightly offset. Drop shadow is a simple copy and offset; block shadow joins the outlines of the original and duplicate to create a 3D-relief effect; and cast shadow alters the shape and size of the duplicate to imitate shadows cast from varied placement of light, as the sun does on a sundial.

  • sheet metal

    Traditionally, drawings prepared by specific trades to describe the quantity, shape, size and materials and other details to be manufactured, built, or constructed. In signage, it now 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. The essential reason for shop drawings is to be sure the original design concept is accurately carried out in the construction process. (See also template.)

  • 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.

  • sidewalk 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. (Also known as sandwich sign.)

  • sign

    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 fo 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 cabinet

    The enclosure of an electric sign, not including the components and mounting structure. (See also box sign and light box.)

  • sign can

    An informal term for sign cabinet.

  • 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. (Also called face. See also panel.)

  • sign location map

    Usually a site plan or floor plan indicating where signs will be placed (called "sign locations").

  • sign location plan

    See sign location map.

  • signage

    Interchangeable terms used to describe signs. Any group of posted commands, warnigns, information or directions.

  • signature building

    Architectural design of a building or structure that reinforces signage.

  • signcentric design

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

  • silhouette

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

  • silkscreening

    One of the oldest and simplest forms of printing. A print is made using a squeegee to force ink through stencil or emulsion that is supported by fabric that has been stretched over a frame to create a screen. Several synthetic fabrics have replaced silk as the fabric of choice for screen printers. (See also screen printing.)

  • 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.

  • skeleton

    The metal frame on which a sign is installed.

  • slip-base

    Foundation consisting of two bolts fastened between the foundation plate and the concrete footer.

  • snipe sign

    An overlay sign added to an existing sign layout, as an additional message to the main sign, for example a band across a corner saying "coming soon." Also a term for illegal posting of handbills and posters without permits.

  • soda-lime glass

    The most common type of glass manufactured and the type used in most fluorescent tubes and incandescent bulbs. Soda-lime glass is made from a combination of sand, limestone, and sodium carbonate, and can either be clear or colored.

  • solvent

    A petroleum-based liquid used to modify oil-based pains and inks and to remove them from sign components, frames and brushes.

  • spacer

    Any device used in mounting letters or signs that separates them from the surface to which they are being installed. A spacer allows letters to be pinned out.

  • specifications

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

  • spectacular

    An extra large outdoor sign that incorporates special lighting and/or motion effects, or an interior sales display that also includes special lights and motion elements.

  • spinner sign

    A sign, either freestanding or wall-mounted, where the messages rotate in the wind. A spinner sign is not considered an animated sign.

  • spotlight

    A source of illumination for an extremely illuminated sign; a lamp with a strong focused beam directed toward a sign.

  • spun glass

    A strong, lightweight material created from tiny glass threads woven into a fabric and then hardened using a special polyester resin. Fiberglass can be used to create sign faces and cabinets of varying sizes and shapes. (See also fiberglass.)

  • sputtering

    Occurs when the electrode in a neon tube, because of the heat and electrical forces, gradually erodes, blackening the ends of the tube near the electrode and decreasing gas pressure, eventually making the tube inoperative.

  • squeegee

    1. In screen printing, a flexible blade mounted in a wood or metal handle and used to force ink through a stencil mounted on the screen. 2. In sign making, a hard plastic or nylon blade used to apply pressure to increase surface adhesion between cutting vinyl and the transfer tape or between the vinyl and sign face.

  • stain

    Wood stain is a type of paint that is very "thin," that is, low in viscosity, and formulated so that the pigment penetrates the surface rather than remaining in a film on top of the surface. Stain is predominantly pigment or dye and solvent with little binder, designed primarily to add color without providing a surface coating.

  • stainless steel

    As the name implies, this is a special steel alloy that is made more stainless than regular steel, due to higher concentrations of chromium and nickel.

  • stand-offs

    Insulators that support a neon tube,as well as hold it away from the background surface and provide some impact resistance. (See also supports).

  • standard frame

    The structural supports found inside a sign cabinet.

  • star of life

    The asterisk symbol, indicating exit level, showing preferred route for gurney, emergency egress, etc., required by ADA next to floor indication on elevator control panels and elevator jambs.

  • stationary sign

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

  • stencil

    A thin sheet of material into which a design is cut. When a stencil is placed on another substrate and paint or ink is applied, the image represented by the cut-out portion of the stencil is printed on the substrate below it. Stencils range from metal to card stock to photo emulsions.

  • stippling

    A method for taking out brush marks and creating a transparent look on windows. Paint is mixed with linseed oil to slow the drying process, then brushed on the surface to be stippled. A stippler is created by wrapping a piece of cheesecloth or other lint-free cotton rag around a wad of cotton, which is then either held firmly in the hand or securely attached to a short stick, taking care that the work surface of the stippler is wrinkle-free. Stippling is done by daubing the stippler over the wet, painted surface.

  • stochastic screening

    A silkscreening process that conveys the tone of a screened image by varying the number and location of dots rather than just varying the size of the dots within the grid.

  • stone signs

    Typically sandstone, granite, marble, limestone and other common decorative stone material. Letters can be stud-mounted to stone or they can be carved or incised into the face of the stone.

  • strain

    The measure of the change in size of shape of a body under stress, compared to its original size or shape. It is usually measured as the change (in inches) per inch of length.

  • streamer

    A long, narrow banner included in interior or window displays only.

  • 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. (See also bench sign.)

  • stretching

    1. The process of securing mesh to a frame in screen printing. 2. The stretching of vinyl face material over a flex-face sign cabinet.

  • stroke

    A single movement of the hand or arm, or of a marking tool. Stroke refers to a pass of the squeegee in screen printing, and a pass of the brush in painting. (See also stroke width.)

  • 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.

  • structure

    In the sign industry, a fabrication designed for and capable of supporting a sign. Can refer to internal or external skeleton (exoskeleton) of sign as well as support pole or mechanism.

  • styrene

    Refers to polystyrene, a usually colorless, rigid plastic that can be molded into objects, used in the manufacture of signs.

  • substrate

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

  • supports

    Insulators that support a neon tube, as well as hold it away from the background surface and provide some impact resistance. (See also stand-offs.)

  • symmetry

    The balance of design elements in which one side equals or mirrors the other.

  • tack

    The stickiness of an adhesive under a given condition. Some adhesives require a particular temperature range for maximum tack.

  • 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

  • tagged image file format (TIFF)

    Standard graphics file format used for scanned bit-mapped images.

  • 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.

  • tempera

    Pigment mixed in a water medium, usually with a binder and adhesive. Tempera paints produce a luminous effect.

  • template

    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.

  • temporary sign

    Any sign that 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 remain in place.

  • tensile strength

    The maximum load a material can withstand before it breaks. (Also called breaking strength.)

  • thermoforming

    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.

  • thinner

    Any liquid used to reduce the thickness of paint or ink.

  • three-dimensional (3D) engraving

    A routing procedure where the tool bit can be moved independently along the up-and-down z-axis while still traveling an x/y-axis tool path. 3D engraving can create relieves and hand-chiseled looks while removing material from a substrate.

  • thumbnail

    A type of rough sketch of a design made prior to developing more finalized presentations. 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.

  • tiling

    The digital process of dividing a large image into individual sections to print with overlap.

  • 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 switch

    A switch that utilizes a clock or timer to automatically turn on and off electric signs at set times each day.

  • time, place, and manner (TPM) 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.

  • tint

    A color made lighter than the original by adding white to it.

  • tone

    The effect on a color brought about by blending it with another color.

  • tongue tear

    This is a property of fabrics where a machine will tear a strip of fabric across the warp and filling. The resulting effort to this is measured in pounds.

  • top coating

    The coating intended for the front, side or top of a fabric or membrane.

  • touch screen

    Computerized CRT or LCD screen directory or information station that is activated by touching the screen.

  • tracking

    The ability of a computer, at the operator's instruction, to add or subtract minute increments of space between letters. (See also letter spacing and kerning.)

  • 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.

  • trademark

    Used by a business to distinguish itself and its products from competition. A trademark may include a name, symbol, word or combination of those. Protected by the federal government and considered to have financial value, a sign maker should only reproduce a trademark with the company's permission and should discourage customers who seek to imitate well-known trademarks too closely. (See also logo and registered trademark.)

  • 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.

  • transfer tape

    A medium-tack adhesive coated on translucent paper. Transfer tape is placed on weeded vinyl images still on the original carrier liner; the tack of the tape is stronger than the adhesion of the vinyl to the coated liner, so the image is pulled off the liner in a transfer to another surface.

  • transformer

    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.)

  • translucent

    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.

  • transparent

    The property of a material that allows light and images through and may also show a color tint.

  • trapping

    In screen printing, to overlap one color on another. Trapping may result in the creation of a third color in the overlap area, or, if opaque links are used, the edge of the first color may be hidden for purposes of registration. (See also bleed.)

  • tri-color LED

    An LED that displays only the colors red, yellow and green.

  • triple message sign

    A type of sign consisting of rotating triangular louvers. The louvers turn in unison showing three different messages as the three faces are exposed. Allows for three times the static advertising/communication power at one location.

  • trough letter

    A metal channel letter with an exposed cold cathode tube in the trough for illumination.

  • 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.

  • tube supports

    Insulators that support a neon tube, as well as hold it away from the background surface and provide some impact resistance.

  • tunneling

    The separation of a laminate from a substrate, appearing in a straight line/channel, due to insufficient adhesion, inadequate tension/stability during application, inadequate quality of substrate or improper curing after application.

  • typeface

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

  • ultimate strength

    The maximum strength under which an awning material is capable of sustaining a gradual and uniformly applied load.

  • ultraviolet light (UV)

    Part of the spectrum ranging form 185 to 450 nanometers. UV has both a negative and positive influence on the sign industry. When UV strikes certain surfaces, such as the phosphors in neon and fluorescent tubes, it is transformed into visible light. UV is also used for curing some screen printing inks and paints. On the other hand, UV light is the prime cause of pigment failure in some paints and vinyls, especially red ones.

  • under-canopy sign

    A sign designed to be mounted underneath a canopy.

  • 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.

  • vacuum pump

    A device used by a neon shop to draw a vacuum on the inside of a neon lamp.

  • variable message sign

    A sign on which the copy can be changed, either manually through the use of attachable letters (usually plastic) or electronically using incandescent bulbs or light emitting diodes. (See also marquee sign, readerboard. changeable copy panel, changeable copy sign, electronic message center, menu board.)

  • variable plank sign

    A variable sign that consists of a frame within which pre-printed sign planks can be assembled.

  • 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).

  • video matrix signal

    Array of CRT monitors, plasma screens, etc., linked to display a single image or variety of images.

  • video sign

    A variable sign displayed on a television screen.

  • vinyl

    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.

  • visibility

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

  • vitreous

    Resembling glass, as in transparency, brittleness, hardness, glossiness,etc.

  • vitreous enamel

    A hard, brittle glass coating applied to steel by firing at high temperature in an oven. Some limitations to panel size and complexity of shape due to distortion at temperature but is very hard wearing.

  • wall mounted sign

    A single-face sign mounted on a wall. (See also wall sign.)

  • wall sign

    In the most literal sense, a sign that is painted on a wall. The term is often expanded to include flat signs that are placed on or attached to the wall of a building. These latter signs are also called fascia-mounted signs and wall mounts. (Also known as a wall mounted sign.)

  • water resistant

    Describing a face that has been treated to make it resistant to damage or deterioration caused by water.

  • waterproof

    The use of the term in relation to treated cotton ducks is prohibited by the "Fair Trade Practices Act" unless the product shall be impervious to the passage of any water so long as the fabric may endure. "Water Resistant" is the proper designation for cloths treated to resist water penetration and leakage.

  • wax transfer

    A method of heating a colored wax material and printing it on to vinyl.

  • weathering steel

    A steel alloy that forms a tenacious, self-protecting rust layer when exposed to the atmosphere.

  • weave

    The configuration of threads running perpendicular to one another. A plain weave places weft thread over the warp thread in sequence, then reverses for the next row of threads.

  • webbing

    A sturdy fabric woven in narrow widths for use where strength is required, such as seat belts or headbands. Often used in banners, where heavy duty usage is required, like over-the-street banners.

  • weed

    The process of peeling extraneous vinyl or matrix way from a plotter cut, leaving only the sections representing the final image. Pulling the extra material away in one quick stroke is known as "rip weeding."

  • 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.

  • weft-fill

    Threads that run in the crosswise direction of woven fabric. Weft also is referred to as fill.

  • weld

    The process that connects pieces of material by heating until molten and fusing together.

  • welt

    A strip of material seamed to a pocket opening as a finishing and a fabric strengthening device.

  • welt cord

    A tape or covered cord sewn into a seam as a reinforcement or trimming.

  • wet location fixture

    A watertight electrical or light fixture that is sealed to protect against moisture.

  • white space

    Empty or unused space (having no lettering or graphics) within the sign face. (Also called negative space. See also positive space.)

  • wickability

    The property of a fiber that allows moisture to move rapidly along the fiber surface and pass quickly through the fabric.

  • 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.

  • window sign

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

  • wood lag screws

    Screws which are tapered to a point and do not utilize nuts. Their strength is proportional to the hardness of the wood in which they are embedded. In many awning applications that require fastening to wood framing, wood lag screws may be the best available option.

  • word space

    Horizontal space between words.

  • working load

    Also known as "working strength," this is the weight in pounds that is recommended for safe working conditions. It is applied to new rope in good condition with approprite splices and only under normal service conditions. Where dynmic loading may occur, the recommended working load should be adjusted accordingly.

  • x-height

    In a given typeface, the height of the lowercase letters which do not have ascenders or descenders.

  • yield

    1. In regulatory signs pertaining to traffic flow, concede right of way. 2. In production, the amount of material utilized versus what is wasted or dropped.

  • zinc

    A malleable metal that has unique gray appearance, somewhat like lead, and can be used raw in exterior applications.