A stencil is a thin sheet of material, such as paper, plastic, or metal, with letters or a design cut from it, used to produce the letters or design on an underlying surface by applying pigment through the cut-out holes in the material.
The key advantage of a stencil is that it can be reused to repeatedly and rapidly produce the same letters or design. The design produced with a stencil is also called a stencil.
The context in which stencil is used makes clear which meaning is intended. Although aerosol or painting stencils can be made for one-time use, typically they are made to be reusable.
To be reusable, they must remain intact after a design is produced and the stencil is removed from the work surface.
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).