The arms, designed by H. Ellis Tomlinson, combine elements of the five local authorities that formed the new city of Salford in 1974.
The shield retains were approved by letters patent of the Garter King of Arms and based upon the former Borough of Salford arms; the blue background with a gold 'chief', giving the heraldic colours of the Earls of Chester, from whom Salford received its first charter in 1230.
Also from Salford are the gold shuttle and five bees, representing the growth of five industrial communities round a centre of the textile industry, and the two black millrinds (the iron centres of millstones) as symbols of engineering.
The ship motif comes from Eccles and signifies the importance of waterways in the area. The crest, a red-half griffin holding a flag staff with a pennon, with three boars heads, is one of the former Eccles supporters. The boars heads were also seen in the Irlam arms, and the circle of steel around the griffin's neck was part of the Irlam crest, symbolising the town's great industry.
The supporters'-lions brandishing miners' picks are similar to those of Swinton and Pendlebury. Each lion is collared with a steel chain (a further symbol of engineering) holding a white pentagonal medallion. On one medallion is the black pheon, or broad arrow, which, with the red lion, appeared in the arms of Worsley, whilst on the other is the boar's head from the crest of Swinton and Pendlebury, shown in that former borough's livery colours of red and gold.
The motto, already described, is that formerly used by the Borough of Swinton and Pendlebury, Salus populi suprema lex ("The welfare of the people is the highest law").