Sign Design Tips

BILLBOARD SIGN DESIGN TIPS

The effectiveness of your sign is dependent on the readability of the design.

LOGOs

Your logo or product identifier should be a prominent element.

SIZE

Everything on your sign should be as big and bold as possible.  First row of text should be about 18” tall to be read from hundreds of feet away.  Most of our signs start to be seen from over 600’ away.

“ APCO Distance Legibility Chart“
APCO Distance Legibility Chart
Source: Wayfinding, People Signs & Architecture, Paul Arthur 1992

FONTS and CASE

  • You should use thick simple fonts with normal spacing.  Fancy fonts, thin or thick fonts, or tightly spaced letters, make readability difficult.
  • Upper and lower case type is easier to read than all uppercase letters.  All uppercase words should be limited to short words/phrases and only used a few times.
  • Mixed case can be better for “shape recognizable” words – e.g. the word Left
  • Upper and lower case type is easier to read than all uppre case
  • Too tight letter spacing decreases legibility, too loose a spacing breaks up the words and makes type look weak.
  • At long distance very heavy letters become blobs and very thin letters become invisible
  • Ornate script, highly distressed or highly stylized faces, and excessive contrast between thicks and thins decrease legibility

Examples   (the second row is recommended)

Fonts and Case Examples   (the second row is recommended)

COLOUR and CONTRAST

There needs to be a high level of colour contrast between the background and the text or the image.

Examples
Contrasting Colours (WORKS):

Black on White

Red on Yellow

Yellow on Black

Black on Yellow

Blue on White

White on Blue

White on Black

White on Green

White on Red

Non-Contrasting Colours (DOESN’T WORK):

Yellow on White

Red on Blue

Blue on Red

White on Yellow

Blue on Green

Green on Yellow

IMAGES

  • Images need to be bold and simple so they can be understood quickly.  Detailed/complex background images can be confusing.
  • If the graphics “bleed” off the edge, the sign will appear bigger.

MESSAGE

  • Should be brief and eye catching.  Limit the sign to one message and keep it simple.
  • Maximum of 8 words and 1 picture/graphic.  6 words for maximum effectiveness.

SPACE USAGE

  • Make use of all available space. 
  • The rules of “whitespace” for other forms of print media do Not apply here.

RETRO-REFLECTIVE

  • Use of retro-reflective, though slightly more expensive, can add viewing time especially with shorter winter days.
  • Use of retro-reflective  is vital with shorter winter days – coloured reflective is seen at night 
  • If the graphics “bleed” off the edge, the sign will appear bigger

DISTANCE TEST FOR 8’ X 16’

  • Obtain a pdf version of your sign design
  • Open the pdf file on your computer and using the Adobe reader zoom control (see below) reduce the size of the displayed sign picture so that the width is only 4 inches wide on your monitor. 
  • Then stand back about 8 feet for an estimate of what a driver would see from 400 feet away.
  • You only have 5 to 10 seconds to make an impression. 

THE GOOD, BETTER, BEST OPTIONS FOR OUTDOOR BILLBOARD SIGNS

Best - Dibond Aluminum

Signs made from Dibond Aluminum will stay looking great for 7 plus years. They are perfect for those businesses like Real Estate Agents where branding is the most important part of the message.

Better - Coreplast

Signs made from Coreplast will stay looking great for 3 to 5 years. They are perfect for businesses who want to refresh their message more regularly.

Good - Vinyl 

Signs made for vinyl are perfect for those businesses that change their message every year.

Here are samples of great signs.