Promoter recognition in eubacteria is carried out by the initiation factor sigma, which binds RNA polymerase and initiates transcription. Cells have one housekeeping factor and a variable number of alternative sigma factors that possess different promoter-recognition properties. The cell can choose from its repertoire of sigmas to alter its transcriptional program in response to stress. Recent structural information illuminates the process of initiation and also shows that the two key sigma domains are structurally conserved, even among diverse family members. We use the sigma repertoire of Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, Streptomyces coelicolor, and cyanobacteria to illustrate the different strategies utilized to organize transcriptional space using multiple sigma factors.