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All 50 State Flags

Parts of a flag Flag definition head graphic

The Parts of a Flag

When talking about flags, several words are used to describe a flag that may not always be familiar to all. The diagram below will help you to understand the different parts of a flag and help you to understand the descriptions of the state flags at NETSTATE.COM.

Parts of a flag

About the Parts of Flags and Related Items

    • Anatomy of a Flag

    • Hoist: Hoist is used to describe the height of the flag while flying. The term also refers to the edge of the flag that is attached to the flagpole or staff. You may hear the term "hoist end" to refer to this part of a flag.
    • Fly: 1) The length of the flag as measured from the attachment to the farthest point. 2) The distance from the end of the canton to the free end of the flag. 3) The width (length) of an extended flag.
    • Fly end: The fly end is the part of the flag that flaps in the wind and sometimes becomes frayed.
    • Canton: When it exists, the canton is found in the upper left-hand corner of a flag.
    • By definition, it is the "top inner corner of a flag." Flags with cantons include the United States flag, the Georgia flag, the Hawaii flag and the Mississippi flag.
    • Field: The section of the flag between the hoist and the fly ends is called the field or, sometimes, the ground. It does not include the canton.
    • Flagpoles

    • Flagpole: A flag is most often attached to an object of support such as a flagpole, staff or flagstaff, or mast. In general, when a flag is flown outdoors, if flies from a flagpole. When a flag is carried in a parade or displayed indoors, it is attached to a staff. On a boat or ship, a flag may be attached to a mast.
    • Truck: The truck is the cap at the top of a flagpole and may have holes to attach pulleys to raise and lower a flag.
    • Staff Ornament or Finial: The flagpole or staff may be topped with a decorative ornament or finial. A finial is an uppermost decoration such as the sphere illustrated above.
    • Halyard: A halyard is a rope or cable used to raise and lower a flag on a flagpole.

Good Flag Design

You may have heard or seen the term, Vexillology before. Vexillology is simply the "study of flags." There are thousands and thousands of people around the world who are interested in vexillology and these people have formed organizations. In our opinion, one of prime results from the study of flags is the answer to the question, "What constitutes good flag design?"

When we look at the state flags, we see a wide variation in flag design. Some flags make little impression on us. Others are memorable and seem to celebrate the state to which they belong. The North American Vexillological Association defines five principles of good flag design.



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