With some designs, this is done by connecting stencil islands (sections of material that are inside cut-out "holes" in the stencil) to other parts of the stencil with bridges (narrow sections of material that are not cut out).

A template is used to create an outline for the image.

Stencils templates can be made from any material which will hold its form, ranging from plain paper, cardboard, plastic sheets, metals and wood.

Stencils are frequently used by official organizations, including the military, utility companies and governments, to quickly and clearly label objects, vehicles and locations.

Stencils for official application can be customized, or purchased as individual letters, numbers and symbols.

Stencils were popular as a method of book illustration, and for that purpose the technique was at its height of popularity in France during the 1920s when André Marty, Jean Saudé and many other studios in Paris specialised in the technique.

Low wages contributed to the popularity of the highly labour-intensive process.

Although aerosol or painting stencils can be made for one-time use, typically they are made with the intention of being reused.

To be reusable, they must remain intact after a design is produced and the stencil is removed from the work surface.

The masters from which mimeographed pages are printed are often called "stencils".

Stencils can be made with one or many colour layers using different techniques, with most stencils designed to be applied as solid colours.

When stencils are used in this way they are often called "pochoir".