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Glossary of Terms



Magnetic signs: Signs with a layer of magnetic material laminated to a flexible surface material such as vinyl which lettering and graphics can be applied. Magnetic signs are commonly used for temporary signage that can be placed on the side of vehicles or other metal surfaces. (See also vehicle graphics.)
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 centre. 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 frequently used by movie theaters and concert halls.
Matte: Having a dull or non-shiny surface or finish.
MDO (medium density overlay): An exterior grade plywood with a weather-resistant resin overlay bonded to one or both sides of the wood by heat and pressure.  The overlay improves the adhesion of paint and vinyl graphics and also provides superior weather resistance compared to standard plywood.  Crezon® is a well-known commercial brand of the material.
Memorial sign: A sign or 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 fast service restaurants where it is used to display the menu. (See also variable message sign.)
Mercury: A heavy, silver-white metallic element liquid at room temperature. When heated to a vapor through which an electronic current is discharged, it produces a bluish-green light. It may be mixed with rare gases, typically argon, to produce the ultraviolet light necessary to excite the phosphors in neon tubes and in florescent lamps to produce visible light.
Mesh: Any fabric or woven material having a loose or open weave.
Message area: Any segment or surface of a sign that conveys meaning to the viewer either through words or graphics.
Message centre: 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 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 sign mock-up is created full scale 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 features the same colours 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 both simple and 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 colour.
MSDS (Material safety data sheets): Information on the safe use and handling of various materials that is produced by the material manufacturer.
Multi-sided sign: Refers to a sign with three or more sign faces.
Muntz metal: An alloy of copper (55 to 61 percent) and zinc (39 to 45 percent) with up to 1 percent lead. This brass is highly malleable and is used for sign plaques and letters.
Mural: Wall surface that has been treated with a paint, tile, or vinyl graphic pattern, image, or shape. Historically murals have been either hand-painted or mosaics. Now murals can be achieved using large-format digital prints that can emulate any desired material or finish.