Trade Show Display Terms Dictionary

When ordering a trade show booth, it's not uncommon to come across terms or phrases you're not familiar with. In order to make the ordering process simpler, we've built a trade show term dictionary resource that lists the common terms or phrases you are likely to see.

General Trade Show Display Terms

VESA Mount Pattern

A VESA mount pattern refers to the space between each of the four mounting holes on the back of a monitor. There are several common size options that you may see such as, 100x100, 200x200, 400x400, 600x400. The larger the numbers, the larger the monitor size, generally speaking. The numbers themselves refer to the number of millimeters between each hole, vertically and horizontally.

For example, in a 200 x 200 mm VESA mount pattern, the holes are configured in a square 200 mm apart.

When looking at a monitor for your trade show display, check that your mount and your monitor share compatible VESA mount patterns. 200x200 is probably the most common for these types of displays. Here is a quick video to help give you a visualization.

Show Services

Services such as advanced warehousing, booth transportation, rental items, hanging sign rigging, display assembly and dismantling labor, electrical services and more. Often these are provided by unionized companies such as Freeman or GES.

Trade Show Drayage

The cost to move your booth materials from the truck or warehouse to your booth. This cost often surprises inexperienced exhibitors so please ask about this before arriving at your show.

Header Graphic

A small graphic panel that clips or screws to the top of your exhibit or stand.

Examples Of Headers

Return Wall

A display wall that runs from the back wall towards the front of the booth at a 90 degree angle.

Return Wall Example


This just means the shipping case converts to a counter stand, usually with branded graphics. This style is common with portable kits. An easy example is the CA600 hard shipping case-to-counter.

Dye-Sublimation Printing (Dye-Sub)

A printing process that heats sublimation ink into a gas form and then embeds that gas into the fibers of a fabric. This process creates a very durable and full color graphic print that is essentially fade, run, and crack proof.


A lightweight aluminum post used for display frames, usually three or four-sided. These typically come with small pre-cut channels for graphic installation and larger channels to connect other extrusions or bars. Often come between 1 inch and 3 inches in size.

Common extrusion based display type


This means 20ft by 20ft which is usually one of the larger spaces at most events. When ordering a 20x20 exhibit, know that the measurements are not referring to the exhibits but instead the booth size the exhibits fits in.

Common 20x20 Booth Styles


This means 10ft by 20ft which is a common booth size at most events. When ordering a 10x20 display, know that the measurements are not referring to the display itself but instead the booth size the display fits in. Often the back wall is just under 20ft wide and 8ft tall to meet common show restrictions

Common 10x20 Booth Styles


This means 10ft by 10ft which is the most common booth size at most events. When you're looking to order a 10x10 display, know that the measurements are not referring to the display itself but instead the booth size the display fits in. Often the back wall is just under 10ft wide and 8ft tall to meet common show restrictions

Common 10x10 Booth Styles

Tension Fabric Graphic

A stretch fabric graphic, often a polyester blend. Tension fabric graphics typically come folded in a bag and gain tension as they are pulled over a frame like a pillowcase or connected to a frame using a channel or hook.

Pillowcase Style Tension Fabric Example

Silicon Edge (SEG) Tension Fabric Example

Trade Show Display Types and Styles

Orbital Truss

Often compared to a large erector set, this exhibit style uses cutout steel extrusions that twist and lock together at hubs to create heavy-duty frames. Velcro lined terry cloth graphics connect to the frame to make large graphic panels. 

Orbital Truss Examples

Economy Table Throw

This table throw will cover the table top and hang evenly, to the floor, on three sides. The backside of the table throw will hang roughly 6”- 8” from the top of the table. This allows for easy access to items stored under the table. 

Full Table Throw

This table throw will cover the table top and hang evenly, to the floor, on all four sides.

Retractable Banner Stand Wall

Some combination, typically three retractable banner stands side-by-side, to create a back wall.

Retractable Banner Stand Wall Example

Retractable Banner Stand

Often called a roll-up, pop-up, pull-up, or just retractable banner. These displays include a graphic, typically vinyl, that retracts in and out of a metal base that sits on the floor. When up, the graphic rests on a support pole that connects at the top of the graphic and fits into a hole in the back of the base.

Retractable Banner Stand Examples


These exhibits are similar to the XVline but use lighter 1.75”  aluminum extrusions for the frame. They still use  a large tension fabric graphic with silicon edging (SEG) for the main graphic, and several branded hard acrylic graphics for wings and a header. All layouts in this style use a light canopy on the top of the display. 

ExhibitLine Examples


These exhibits use sturdy 3” aluminum extrusions for the frame, a large tension fabric graphic with silicon edging (SEG) for the main graphic, and several branded hard acrylic graphics for wings and a header. Some layouts use a light canopy on the top of the display while others just use small spotlights.

XVline Examples


This exhibit uses a scissor/accordion style pop-up aluminum frame with j-hooks that hold the frame in place once fully assembled. The fabric graphic stretches and connects to the frame using velcro running along the edges of the frame and graphic.  OneFabrics are known for their 3D/boxy look with a graphic in the front and slimmer graphic end caps on each side. You can order OneFabrics in numerous sizes from 3ft wide to 10ft wide in flat or curved. 

OneFabric Examples

Infinity Backlit

Infinity panels come in numerous sizes from 3ft to 10ft wide and have a  very thin profile. The tension fabric graphics have a silicone edge (SEG) on all four sides that tuck into a pre-cut channel going all the way around the light weight aluminum extrusion frame. All of the LED lights are pre-installed into the top and bottom of the frame and easily connect to the needed power supply. Since the graphics stretch across the entire display, completely hiding the frame when looking straight on, you can slide multiple panels beside each other with minimal noticeable seams. Additionally, the Infinity offers double-sided (both sides backlit) graphic options. 

Infinity Backlit Examples

Wavelight Backlit

Usually thought of as a backlit Waveline display. Wavelight panels come in numerous widths from 3ft wide to 10ft wide. These stands use a slightly thicker click-together aluminum tube frame and a pillowcase style graphic with a sewn in blockout panel on the backside. Rollable LED curtains connect to pre-drilled holes in the top and bottom of the frame to illuminate the center area of the panel, backlighting the front of the graphic. Each LED curtain comes with it’s own plug-in power supply.

Wavelight Backlit Examples


Often used as a singular back wall panel, Waveline panels commonly come in 10x10, 10x20 and 20x20 sizes. The most common shapes are flat, curved, and serpentine. These exhibits use a click-together aluminum frame and pillowcase style tension fabric graphic. The flat style will use feet while the curved and serpentine stand on their own with no feet.

Waveline Examples

Waveline Media Panel

These panels are not as wide as standard Wavline panels though both are built using a click-together aluminum frame and pillowcase style tension fabric graphics. Additionally, most media panels are designed to use a built-in  mounting system as opposed to needing a separate monitor stand. Often you will use two media panels to create a 10x10 back wall with one panel holding a “floating” monitor.

Waveline Media Examples

Waveline Banner Stand

These look similar to the Waveline Media panels though they do not hold monitors and they are typically slimmer in width. These stands also come standard with double-sided graphics when purchased outside of a kit.

Graphic Design

White Space / Negative Space

White space, despite its seemingly misleading name, does not need to be white. It is the space, which can be any color, pattern or texture, between different elements in a design that are essential in creating a successful design. Think of white space as giving a design visual breathing room. It can also be called negative space which is  slightly less misleading.


The term resolution refers to the number of units, measured in either DPI or PPI, that occupy a linear inch an image, both on screen and in print. Resolution is used to denote the quality of an image. This can generally be assumed that the higher the resolution, the better the quality of the image. You can tell if the resolution is too low as the image will appear blurry or pixelated.


A vector is a graphic image that is made with mathematical equations. They’re defined in terms of 2D points connected by lines and curves to form shapes. Basically this means that vectors can be resized or scaled to any size without losing quality or getting blurry. They’re incredibly useful!


A type of graphic image, a raster (which can also be called a bitmap image) is an image made up of a certain number of pixels. Each pixel has its own color, hue, saturation and transparency which helps to make up the image as a whole. Unlike vector images, raster images will lose quality and become blurry as they’re resized.


That little bit extra, the bleed is a printing term that refers to the edge of the sheet that will be trimmed off. In design terms, the bleed is the artwork or background color that extends in to this area, in case the cut made to the graphic isn’t exact. It’s a way of ensuring that none of the design gets accidentally cut off or there’s no unexpected borders.


The two measurements used to measure art resolution. PPI stands for pixels per inch whilst DPI stands for dots per inch—they refer to the amount of pixels or dots, respectively, that can be placed in a line across one linear inch. PPI is used to describe the resolution of a digital image and DPI is used to describe the amount of ink dots per inch in a printed image. PPI can also affect the print size and quality of a design, but DPI has no affect on a digital design.

Pantone (PMS) Color

This is a numbered color match system created by the company Pantone. The this system works is that Pantone creates color swatches where they add numbers to thousands of color variations. When creating your design, you can pick a Pantone (PMS) color you like and provide that number to the printer so they are able more accurately match to that color when printing.


CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key. Key means the color that all colors key to which is black. Essentially, these main colors will be used to blend and print every color in your design. 

3D Rendering

A digital 3D representation of your order.

Hard Proof

A small, roughly 11” x 17”, sample of your final graphic print. Typically, you will select a specific section from your design and the vendor will print that section at 100% size on the fabric or substrate your display will be printed on. This process allows you to see how colors and images will print at full size. This can also be done with several color options so you can see how similar color shades will print and pick the best one for your design.


Advanced Warehouse

A warehouse near your event hall that will store your exhibit for a predetermined amount of time before your show.

Split Shipping

Shipping one order from two or more locations. A good example is your booth hardware is warehoused in one location and the graphic is printed in another. Instead of shipping the graphic to where the hardware is being warehoused and then shipping together, a vendor will ship each separately from their initial location. This method helps to save shipping cost and cut down on transit time. 

FOB Shipping

Free On Board shipping means that as soon as the shipped good leaves a predetermined location (typically the sellers shipping dock or warehouse) the sale is recorded as complete for the seller. The purchaser then owns the goods and is responsible for shipping charges. If the package is damaged in shipping, the purchaser is responsible for filing a claim. 

In-Hand Date

The date your order needs to be delivered.

LTL Shipping

Less Than Truckload (LTL) shipping is when you’re shipping your package to be delivered by tractor trailer but your shipment does not fill the entire space and will share a trailer with other shippers. This method is used for large shipments that either cant be delivered by UPS/FedEx or is more affordable and quicker to ship by tractor trailer.

You would commonly use this type of shipping for a booth like the 20x20 Truss Kits.