Specification is the process of providing detailed instructions for the manufacture and installation of signs or other visual communication elements. Designers typically provide fabricators with specification documents—accompanied by design drawings—that detail in written form the designer’s intentions for the sign type, dimensions, materials, colors, finishes, hardware, and installation methods.

Specifications and design drawings are critical communication tools in an environmental or experiential graphic design project, because they ensure that signs and other visual components are realized in the way intended by the designer and client. They contain all the information about the signs or graphics that will affect how they are priced, built, and installed. They are especially critical when the project is being put out to publicly advertised bidding, because the bidding process can attract unqualified fabricators.

The level of detail required in specification documents varies according to the complexity and scale of the project, but at minimum should address:

  • Minimum qualifications that fabricators need to perform the work
  • Drawings, samples, and other items fabricators will be required to submit for design review
  • Quality/workmanship standards
  • Materials and products
  • Fabrication and graphic application techniques
  • Installation and cleanup guidelines

Specification information paired with design drawings represents the documentation phase of the EGD/XGD project.

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