Pictograms used in way finding

Icons used alongside text mean this sign can be understood by more people. Signage by Vista System International. A sign with a laser cut-out pictogram built in at the top.
Pictogram, as defined by Webster Dictionary, is a "figure which describes a situation or prescribes specific behavior and which is used on a signboard or illuminated surface".

Pictograms and icons are a keystone of nonverbal communication. The earliest examples of pictographs include ancient or prehistoric drawings or paintings found on rock walls. Early written symbols were based on pictures which resembled what they signified (i.e. pictographs) as well as symbols which represented ideas (i.e. ideograms).

Pictograms remain in common use today, as a means of conveying information (concept, object, activity, place or event). Because of their graphical nature and fairly realistic style, they are widely used to indicate public areas such as information stands, toilets, security check post, and many other places.

Simply stated, Pictographs often transcend any one single language in that they can communicate to speakers of most (if not all) languages effectively. Accordingly, one can see pictograms widely used in direction of road traffic as well as pedestrians.

Several different pictogram regulations and programs exist worldwide (EC sign regulations, UK sign regulations, Disability Discrimination Act, American with Disabilities ACT, American Professional Association for Design, DOT Program, etc.); however, in an effort to create a unified language, a standard set of pictograms was defined in the international standard ISO 7001 (Public Information Symbols), reflecting the increasing needs and desires of humankind to communicate with one another without barriers.

Pictograms are most commonly used within the sign frame as part of the displayed message. However, unique solutions, such as laser cut-out pictograms offered by Vista System, are available and offer added value to the basic design.

* Danny Schneider is director of business development for Vista System International, which offers way finding sign systems.

For more information, visit www.vistasystem.com

A simple and effective laser cut-out pictogram.
Design by Hinchliffeart.co.uk