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Glossary of Terms



Dead load: The total weight of all 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, routed or otherwise recessed into the sign substrate.
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.
Decal: Printed lettering and graphics that can be transferred and affixed to another surface through the application of water, heat or pressure.
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 layers in a laminated or layered substrate. Typically caused by the failure or breakdown of the adhesive between layers.
Denier: A unit of measure for the weight of fibre. Specifically, it is the weight in grams of 9,000 meters of a given fibre.
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 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 that show only the basic size, profile and parts of a sign, 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 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. (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.
Dielectric welding: The process of joining two pieces of vinyl or other plastic material by heating and melting the seams together using electrical impulses.
Dimensional letter: Any letter, logo or symbol that has a raised profile in relation to the sign substrate. To be effective it is important that the letters are large enough and have sufficient contrast with the background to be easily read. For outdoor applications these signs must be illuminated by an external light source to be visible at night.
Direct illumination: Illuminating a sign by means of an external light source directed at the sign face. (See also exterior illuminated sign.)
Directional sign: Any sign providing written or visual information, that helps direct a person to a destination.
Directory sign: A sign that provides an organized list of names of people, offices, organizations or facilities located within a given building or area. Usually located at a public access point such as a building lobby or entrance to a complex.  A directory sign may provide simple text listings or also include maps and other wayfinding information.
Double-faced sign: A sign having two faces mounted in opposite directions. Pole signs and a–frame signs typically have back-to-back faces. (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 coloured but identically shaped copy of it behind it but slightly offset.