Vexillological symbols are used by vexillologists to indicate certain characteristics of national flags, such as where they are used, who uses them, and what they look like. The set of symbols described in this article are known as international flag identification symbols (IFIS), which were devised by Whitney Smith.[citation needed]

National flag variants by use

Some countries use a single flag design to serve as the national flag in all contexts of use; others use multiple flags that serve as the national flag, depending on context (i.e., who is flying the national flag and where). The six basic contexts of use (and potential variants of a national flag) are:

Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil flag – Flown by citizens on land.
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
State flag – Flown on public buildings.
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
War flag – Flown on military buildings.
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil ensign – Flown on private vessels (fishing craft, cruise ships, yachts, etc.).
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
State ensign – Flown on unarmed government vessels.
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Naval ensign – Flown on warships.

In practice, a single design may be associated with multiple such usages; for example, a single design may serve a dual role as

Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
war flag and ensign. Even with such combinations, this framework is not complete: some countries define designs for usage contexts not expressible in this scheme such as air force ensigns (distinct from war flags or war ensigns, flown as the national flag at air bases; for example, see Royal Air Force Ensign) and civil air ensigns.

Combinations

Symbol Meaning Symbol Meaning
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil flag
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
National flag
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
State flag
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
National ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
War flag
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
State and war flag, war ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
State flag, civil and war ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
State ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil and state flags and ensigns
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
War ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
State and war flags and ensigns
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil and state flag
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
National flag, civil ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
State and war flag
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
National flag, state ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil and state ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
National flag, civil and state ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
State and war ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
National flag, state and war ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil flag and ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
State and war flag, national ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
State flag and ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil and state flag, national ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
War flag and ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
National flag and ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil and war ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil flag, war ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil flag, state ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil flag, state and war ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil flag, civil and war ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil flag, civil and state ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil flag, national ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil and war flag
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil and war flag, war ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil and war flag, state ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil and war flag, state and war ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil and war flag, civil ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil and war flags and ensigns
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil and war flag, civil and state ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil and war flag, national ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil and state flag, war ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil and state flag, state ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil and state flag, state and war ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil and state flag, civil ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Civil and state flag, civil and war ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
State flag, war ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
State flag, state and war ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
State flag, civil ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
State flag, state and civil ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
State flag, national ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
State flag and ensign, war flag
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
State and war flag, civil ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
State and war flag, civil and war ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
State and war flag, civil and state ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
War flag, state ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
War flag, state and war ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
War flag, civil ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
War flag, civil and war ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
War flag, civil and state ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
War flag, national ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
National flag, war ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
National flag, civil and war ensign
Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
Other

Other symbols

Other symbols are used to describe how a flag looks, such as whether it has a different design on each side, or if it is hung vertically, etc. These are the symbols in general use:

In Unicode

This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (June 2021)

In April 2017, a preliminary proposal to encode vexillology symbols was submitted to the Unicode Consortium.[1]

Literature

See also

References