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Proper Sign Distance for Optimal Visibility

You may have a great-looking sign, but what if your potential customers can’t make out what it’s supposed to mean? Ensuring that potential customers can view and understand your message is vital to your businesses success.

Below is a chart that advises on the appropriate letter height for readability at certain distances. This can be used for both indoor and outdoor signs.

Letter Height
(Inches)

Distance For
Best Impact (feet)

Maximum Readable Distance (feet)

3"

30'

100'

4"

40'

150'

6"

60'

200'

8"

80'

350'

9"

90'

400'

10"

100'

450'

12"

120'

525'

15"

150'

630'

18"

180'

750'

24"

240'

1000'

30"

300'

1250'

36"

360'

1500'

42"

420'

1750'

48"

480'

2000'

54"

540'

2250'

60"

600'

2500'

Proper sign color and contrast is an essential element in sign legibility

A high-color contrast factor will improve legibility. Here are the best combinations, ranked in order of legibility from a distance.

Sign Color And Contrast

Color Combination Effects

Sign Color Combinations

Contrast Solutions

Weak color contrasts can be strengthened with an outline or drop shadow. This can also help maintain contrast in spite of fading, weathering and other adverse effects.

signsnow.com photo 3

How Big Should An Outdoor Sign Be?

Exterior Now Open Banner SignWhether you're creating a bannerpost and panel sign or monument sign, the size of your outdoor sign will depend on a number of factors, including:

Location

Where is the sign positioned and who is likely to see it? If it's for drivers on the freeway 20 feet below, you may need some large 3D letters or a pylon sign for proper visibility. If you're communicating to pedestrians just a few feet away, then a simple a-frame or window graphic will suffice.

Speed of Traffic

Pedestrians can usually read signs easily at walking speed. However, if there's vehicular traffic moving 50 miles per hour, your sign will need to be big enough for them to notice and read clearly. For these situations, a large vinyl banner is an ideal temporary choice, while a monument sign or post and panel sign can act as something more permanent.

Competing Elements

If your sign is one of many competing signs - such as in a shopping mall or at a busy trade show - you'll probably strive for something bigger and better than all the rest (within reason, of course!). If, on the other hand, you're posting a lone yard sign on an otherwise empty green, you can scale back on size assuming the sign is legible.

Sign Type

If you already have a specific sign type in mind for your outdoor sign, here are some size variations for common sign types:

  • Outdoor banners typically range from 6′ – 12′ wide.
  • 3D Signs and channel letter sizes vary just as much as the buildings on which they're placed. Larger buildings such as hospitals, condominiums and corporate headquarters will likely need letters at least 12" high. Smaller businesses may get by with 6" high letters.
  • Monument signs and post and panel signs can range from 6' - 20' wide. Usually the lower end of the spectrum will suffice for visibility unless you're communicating to drivers several hundred feet away.
  • Yard signs are typically 24”x18” which allows for visibility from nearby drivers and pedestrians around 50' or less away. However, for bigger messaging, sizes such as 36″x18″ can be used.

To learn more, check out our Outdoor Signs infographic.

Related Resources

Looking for more ideas? Discover more resources below: 

Interactive Signage Map Interactive Signage Map

InfographicsInfographics

Free E-Book Free E-Book

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