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Actual legibility distance can vary greatly due to a variety of factors including atmospheric conditions
Colour contrasts also play a role

When designing window signs, banners, or car signs, make sure your target market can read what you want to tell them. The size of the letters and logos, as well as the colours you choose are crucial in creating a visible, easy-to-read sign.

Your goal is to make the biggest impact on your intended audience. The size, colours, and styles you choose should all depend on what you want as your end result. Always consider how your sign will be viewed and who you are trying to reach. Trying to save a few dollars by purchasing a sign with smaller letters is not a wise decision. You may be wasting all your expense and efforts when the sign cannot be read by the customers or viewers you are trying to attract.


The Letter Visibility Chart shows the maximum reading distance for your sign to make the best impact, as well as the overall readable distance. A good rule of thumb is every 1 inch of letter height provides 10 feet of readability with the best impact. For example, 3” tall letters make the best impact within 30’; however, they can still be seen and read from up to 100’ away.

How large do your letters need to be?
Letter Sizing Chart


When designing your sign, consider how you will be using it, as well as how far away the readers you want to impact will be. For example, if you are placing a sales advertisement inside your retail store, your text only needs to be visible to the people in the store. 1-2” letters (or smaller) would work just fine. However, if you are hanging banners and want drivers on a nearby highway to be able to see them, design your letters at 3” or even larger.


Another important factor is to use contrasting colours when designing your sign. Text colour with a contrasting background significantly increases the impact and visibility of your sign by making your text stand out more. On the other hand, using a background colour that is similar to the text colour can make your message almost impossible to see at any distance. Some of the most-visible text colours include black, red, and white, each of which can be seen the best with a contrasting background colour. Readable distance can vary 10% depending on various colour combinations.


The font type that you choose can also impact the visibility of your text. Very thin fonts and script fonts can potentially decrease visibility. When choosing fonts, you should select a bold style that is easy to read and sufficient spacing between letters (kerning). Test this by typing your message in a computer program using different font styles, colours, and sizes. Printing the document out and post it against a wall. Stand back and view the message at different distances to see how font choice comes into play when choosing the proper lettering for your sign.


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