An Introductory Guide to Quality Sign Design

An Introductory Guide to Quality Sign Design

In today’s post, the Signworld team offers readers an introductory guide to quality sign design. Whether you’re a business owner, sign manufacturer, or DIY junkie with an event coming up, these tips will come in handy!

Use Contrast to Improve Readability and Audience Engagement

It doesn’t matter whether your sign is advertising a sales promotion or directing wedding guests to their seats – readability should always be a priority in your design. Being mindful of effective sign contrast is one of the best ways to ensure your content is legible, and its also the most important factors in your sign’s ability to attract people’s attention.

Effective contrast is achieved in a number of different ways. For the sake of this introductory guide, we will focus on two of the easiest: contrasting fonts and colors.

  • Contrasting fonts: Arrange your sign’s fonts in a way that create a noticeable contrast between the lettering of your headline and “secondary information.” To do this, you can manipulate the font’s size, style, and weight.Keep your taglines or selling points in larger fonts; bold san serif fonts are particularly effective here. This will set the headline apart from the body copy, and capture the reader’s attention with the “juiciest” detail.Secondary information should be set in smaller, thinner fonts. Tertiary information can be set in even smaller fonts. This is helpful for readers, providing an effective “roadmap” that differentiates the important information from the ancillary details.
  • Contrasting color: Contrasting color is easier and arguably more effective. Signs designed with high contrast will always get more eyes on them, and their messages and generally easier to read, too. Black on white is the old standard, but it’s rather boring, and may actually be easier to “tune out” than more exciting signs that make full use of the color spectrum. You can also use white fonts on black backgrounds, which are in turn outlined in another color. In doing so, you create two levels of contrast: first, between the headline and smaller elements, then again through use of positive and negative space. This brings us to our next talking point…

Making Positive and Negative Space Work For You

Effective signs balance positive and negative space to create compelling aesthetics that draw the eye and invite further study. Positive space refers to that which is defined by your letters and images, while negative space is the background material that is found around and between those images. When used properly, the balance between positive and negative space makes it easier to absorb the meaning of your sign, making it much more readable, even from long distances.

One of the most common mistakes in regards to the balance of positive and negative space is the failure to manage the spacing between letters, which is known in the industry as the “kerning.” When your message lacks adequate kerning, your copy bleeds together, becoming unclear and disorganized. On the other hand, too much kerning disorients the reader, forcing the brain to work harder to tie words and sentences together.

Doing Whitespace Right

Beyond positive and negative space, sign designers need to know how to manage whitespace. Be careful not to fill your sign with too many words or graphics, even if your customer demands it. Clutter directly reduces the effectiveness of a sign. Whitespace allows your sign to breath and makes your message much easier to consume.

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About Signworld

Signworld is a national organization with more than 300 independently owned sign companies, which provide commercial custom signage and graphics. It’s personable, creative, rewarding and ideal for people-oriented individuals who have the desire to learn how to manage a sales and production business. Signworld has been a part of the industry’s profit and fun since 1988. With over 28 years in the business, Signworld has established itself as the leader in the no-royalties and no-rules sign business concept. The ongoing support and training along with state-of-the-art equipment helps leave the competition behind. For more details visit –


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