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A Quality to Consider When Designing Your Signs: Legibility

March 2, 2012
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One of the most important factors to take into consideration when building a sign for your business is legibility of lettering: more specifically, its size, font and color, and intended audience.  Whether your aim is to direct foot traffic, impart important information, or generate new business, legible lettering at the correct distance can mean the difference between success and failure of your sign.  Being that so much depends on the visibility of lettering on signs, there have been several important scientific research studies conducted on the impact of size, font and coloring on a sign.

Studies show that character height has the greatest impact on the distance from which a sign is legible.  It has been determined that a letter height of 3” may be read by someone with normal vision from as far away as 100’, but the best measured distance in terms of “impact” can come down to a mere 30’.  When we say “impact” we are referring to the distance required for a person to see the sign, grasp its significance, and make a decision in accordance with what that specific sign entreats.  For an ad inside your store, your text would only need to be visible to the people in the store, so 1-2” or less would work just fine. On the other hand, if you are placing an outdoor sign and want those passing by at a distance to be able to see it, you would design your letters at 3” or more.

Color, font style and spacing are also crucial elements of legibility. Readability can vary 10% depending on various color combinations.  Thus, you must contrast the color of your text with the background in order to make it jump out at the reader.  Bold font with sufficient spacing between letters is also important. Studies have shown that inter-character spacing should be between 25 and 50 percent of character height and inter word spacing should be from 75 to 100 percent of letter height.  The age of your intended readers will also impact color and style choices.  If your sign is intended for readers over 65, increased size and contrast of your lettering is necessary for maximal impact on an older audience.  Interestingly, use of both upper and lower case letters helps ensure that words that may not be completely legible to people with a degree of vision impairment are still identifiable through shape recognition of the word.

At Engraving Marketing Concepts, our customized signs are designed and engraved to ensure maximal impact on their intended audience, whether the sign is placed indoors or out. With years of knowledge in the fields of rotary and laser engraving, and with a strong background in fabricating signage that is fully ADA-compliant, we understand the specialty science like few in our line of work.

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