If you’ve heard the phrase, but you’re not completely sure what it means, you’re not alone. Is your flag supposed to be g-spec, or is a regular, old flag good enough? To get the answers you need, let’s start with a bit of history.
The American flag was first adopted in 1777, with the current 50-star flag being adopted in 1960. Before President Eisenhower formalized the flag code, there were multiple flag variants being used across government agencies, the military, and naval ships. For instance, the offset rows of white stars you see in the blue section of the flag was not always the standard design layout.
Prior to Eisenhower’s codification, flagmakers were using a variety of creative star arrangements, such as the 33-star “Great Star” flag, circa 1860. That flag had the stars arranged in the pattern of one large five-pointed star. Once flag code was made official, however, all executive agencies and military facilities were required to display only flags in compliance with the code.
The Official Requirements
United States Code, Title 4, lays out the precise rules regarding the flag, including its required proportions and visual specifications. A flag that fully complies with the measurements in Title 4 is called a g-spec flag.
The code has a prescribed flag ratio of 1:1.9 (height by width). Flags not used by executive agencies often deviate from this ratio. For example, the popular 3x5 flag diverges in its ratio (1.67) and cannot be considered a g-spec flag.
The Stars and Stripes
As you know, the flag has thirteen horizontal stripes in honor of the original colonies. The stripes alternate between red (seven of them) and white (six of them). Under flag code, each stripe should be 1/13 of the hoist’s height, and each star must be 4/5 the width of a stripe.
For those of us that need a refresher, the side that’s attached to the flagpole is called the hoist (the end by which the flag gets hoisted). The part in the middle is called the fly (it flies freely in the wind). The opposite end of the flag from the hoist is called the fly end.
At the upper left of the hoist end are the 50 stars in a union of blue, with each star representing one of the states in the union. This section is also called the canton.
These Colors Don’t Run
To be a g-spec flag, the flag in question needs to be in the precise red, white, and blue hues specified by the U.S. State Department. Red is cable number 70180, and is appropriately named Old Glory Red. The white is cable number 70001, and the blue (Old Glory Blue) is cable number 70075.
Sizing Your G-Spec Display
We now know the ratio, design, and color scheme required under flag code. Executive Order 10834 eliminates any remaining confusion and specifies the approved proportions for flags to be displayed in an official capacity. The following measurements are hoist x fly:
● 20’ x 38’
● 10’ x 19’
● 8.95’ x 17’
● 7’ x 11’
● 5’ x 9.5’
● 4.33’ x 5.5’
● 3.5’ x 6.65’
● 3’ x 4’
● 3’ x 5.7’
● 2.37’ x 4.5’
● 1.32’ x 2.5’
G-Spec Burial Flag
One situation where you may need a compliant g-spec flag is as a burial flag for veterans. The flag is presented to the families of deceased service members or draped over a casket at a military burial service. 5’ x 9.5’ (about twice the size of a standard flag) is the traditional flag size for these purposes.
Need Help Choosing Your Flag?
Whether it’s for a festive display or a more somber event, you want to get the right American flag for you and your purposes. If you are purchasing in an official capacity or simply want your personal flag to be fully compliant, we have a selection of high-quality g-spec flags that are just right for you. If you’re ready to buy or have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us at 800-628-3524.