1. What's the name for a group of letters that create a unified information/message? (I'm looking for a general name whether they are on a sign, engraved, or written.)

  2. If I write myself a note on a paper, is it a sign?

  3. If a building has a name of the enterprise on it, can I say it's written on it whatever is the format of the letters?

  4. If the name of the enterprise is engraved or embossed, what to call it? Can I call it sign?


In Czech, I'd call all of these nápis, which translates as sign, inscription, lettering but I'm confused about differences between them.

  • A group of letters that form a syntactical unit is called a word. A group of words is a phrase or sentence. It's not clear how you are conceptualizing the letters in the pictures—and the two pictures could be of two different types of things. Apr 28, 2019 at 18:48
  • @JasonBassford I get where you're coming from but it's hard for me to put it any clearer without knowing what are the concepts called. Perhaps there's no words for these things, please help me out with any suggestions, I struggle with this every day.
    – Probably
    Apr 28, 2019 at 19:13
  • The problem is that it can mean several different things. It depends on how you're viewing it. There is a difference between sign, inscription, and lettering. (There are also the words billboard, plaque, message, among others, not to mention my use of sentence and phrase.) The name of a company on the side of building is normally called a sign. But that's not what you'd call a business card, for example, handed out by employees of the same company. So, context is important. And a note on a piece of paper could just be a note. Or it could be a message. (Or both.) Apr 28, 2019 at 19:28
  • @JasonBassford Thanks! This is what I'd like to hear. The definitions of the words from dictionaries are just too vague for me to infer their usage for these specific situations.
    – Probably
    Apr 28, 2019 at 19:37
  • Most of the question remains unanswered, tho :(
    – Probably
    Apr 29, 2019 at 9:59

4 Answers 4


In Czech, I'd call all of these nápis, which translates as sign, inscription, lettering but I'm confused about differences between them.

There's a difficulty, because from what I understand, nápis means thing that has been written or printed. But of course, there are some things not usually called nápis in Czech. Some things are better called věta or zpráva or značka or anything else.

In English, you're hard pressed to come up with a word as vague as nápis. So each of your examples I'll translate one by one.

  1. Sign, engraving, lettering, font, ... There are many ways to refer to it, depending on what you mean.

  2. That's a note. If you mean something you or someone else is going to use privately, such as a reminder. It could be a sign if you attach it to the wall so that others would be alerted to a fact, like "wet paint" or "no entry" or "quiet -- exams in progress".

  3. written usually means written by hand. So better might be to say "there's a sign or logo on the side of the building"

  4. An engraving or an embossing, if the fact that it's engraved or embossed is important to what you're trying to say. Or a sign, if you're more interested in what it says or what condition it's in. Or lettering, if you are talking about the style or the design.

  • Thanks, have you seen the images? What would you call them?
    – Probably
    May 1, 2019 at 9:11
  • @Probably I have thanks, I would call them signs, or renderings, or logos, or designs, or brand names, or labels, or images, or JPEGs, or links, or ... I am trying to convey that you need to say something about it in order to name the thing. May 1, 2019 at 9:15
  • 1
    @Probably so you could equally well say that the messages appeared in the air. That is, if you understood it's definitely a message and not just a jumble of letters. May 1, 2019 at 9:57
  • 1
    That's what I don't know for sure
    – Probably
    May 1, 2019 at 9:58
  • 1
    You don't know for sure if it's a message or just letters? Then you could say the letters appears in the air, or a sign if they are structurally attached to each other. May 1, 2019 at 9:59

Based off of the question with additional context in the comments for Wilson's answer, I believe the actual answer to your question is that there is no equivalent word in English.

Until context is provided, letters are simply letters. Once context is provided, those letters become a specific grouping of letters for some purpose.

Letters written on a piece of paper intended to be referenced later are referred to as a note.

Letters arranged on the side of a building that spell out the name of the company that owns the building are a name or brand; if the arrangement is peculiar or especially colorful, it may qualify as a logo.

Letters that are placed in order to be hidden are hidden messages.

  1. The text shown in your image would generally simply be referred to as “text” unless it’s also something more specific (e.g., “branding“ or “logo”). The text could also be qualified as, for example, “decorative text”, “futuristic text”, “neon text”, “text content”, “word art”, or “words”.
  2. “Note” and “sign” are mutually exclusive terms. Notes are for personal—typically private—consumption whereas signs are for public consumption. Notes are also often longer and more likely to contain complete sentences. So, no, a note cannot be called a “sign”.
  3. You can say that text is “written on” a building regardless of the format of the letters or whether or not the letters are literally written by hand on the building. However, it’d be slightly more preferable to instead refer to the “word(s)”, “letter(s)”, “lettering”, “text”, “sign(s)”, “signage”, etc. “on the building”.
  4. Yes, you can collectively refer to letters which are independently mounted on the side of a building as a “sign”. The terms “signage” and “text“ work too and are, perhaps, slightly more preferable because “signs“ are typically single, whole objects.
  1. That's called a logo.

    a symbol or other design adopted by an organization to identify its products, uniform, vehicles, etc.

  2. A note on a paper would be a message.
  3. The name of the enterprise would be what it's called.
  4. It's still a logo.

It's hard to put a suitable word/label on your first photo because it looks more like an abstract piece of art with no accurate name. It's just embossed or emboldened letters/words. In real life, the closest thing to it is a logo or a sign of a business/store.

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