Graphic Considerations (Color, Contrast & White Space)

Even within your budget confines or the legal limits of your sign code, an experienced sign design professional can help you create an attractive and effective sign. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Choose a typeface that is easily legible and one that fits your business’s style. Sans-serif fonts and open styles such as Verdana tend to be more legible. Make your message clear. Not every image can be translated onto a sign, so keep it simple. Because motorists have only seconds to read your sign, some sign experts suggest that text should only be three to five words in length. Abbreviations should not be used unless they are popularly known. Whenever possible, text should be arranged horizontally rather than vertically.

Maintain white space. An industry guidline is that 30 to 40 percent of the sign area should be blank space. Too much clutter distracts potential customers.

There are certain color combinations that are more legible than others. Howerver, the shade of the color is important, too. The most easily read combinations are black, dark blue or red text on a white or yellow background. However, keep in mind that it is not unusual for a community sign code to state that at least once color match that of your building.

Also, know that 8% of males in the U.S. are color-blind. It’s important to use color combinations that retain contrast when viewed by color-blind people. Blue and yellow, for example, is a good color combination, but blue-green or aqua on white or gray are difficult combinations for a color-blind person to read. Below are letter and background color combinations ranked in order of optimum legibility:

1. black on yellow 9. white on brown
2. black on white 10. brown on yellow
3. yellow on black 11. brown on white
4. white on blue 12. yellow on brown
5. yellow on blue 13. red on white
6. green on white 14. yellow on red
7. blue on yellow 15. red on yellow
8. white on green 16. white on red

Source: Claus, K.E. and R.J. Visual Communication Through Signage, Vol.1: “Perception of the Message.” ST Publications. Cincinati OH, 1974.